One Solution: Two States
There simply is no other way; without a viable Palestine, Israel will forever be looking over its shoulder. In fact, the main legal justification for Israel’s very existence is based on the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine, which officially recommended the establishment of two separate states. Israel accepted the ruling and made plans for independence. The Palestinian people, under a campaign of duress and misinformation by neighboring Arab regimes, instead made plans for war. Had they accepted the resolution then they would now, in all likelihood, have a thriving country of their own alongside of Israel, enjoying all the benefits of self-determination in a sovereign state. Whether this arrangement would have been sustainable in the long run is anybody’s guess, because history took a very different twist.
Instead of a country, the Palestinian people chose to gamble their entire future on the premise that the Jews would lose the inevitable war and that they would soon return to their ancestral homes, free of their pesky new neighbors from Europe. This is unfortunate, but not irreversible; even today we can still make a viable two-state plan into a reality. The only difference is that today, Israel is in a much stronger position to negotiate, meaning that in any case the Palestinians will receive less than was allocated to them by the Partition Plan. This makes the process of negotiations doubly painful for the Palestinians; not only would they have to deal with the shame of “admitting defeat”, but would be doing so only to accept an inferior deal than previously offered. I can imagine that this scenario must seem unacceptable to the Palestinians; however, given the current facts on the ground, their only alternative is to continue living as refugees. Peace is a win-win solution that will foster economic and security cooperation, massive growth in tourism and industry, and an overall increase in the quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Arriving at a mutually acceptable solution will be extremely difficult, and will most likely involve the forced evacuation of both Israeli and Palestinian communities in certain areas. Or perhaps an arrangement can be concocted which will allow citizens of one country to permanently reside in the neighboring one. Land swaps, water rights, security, access to Jerusalem and its holy sites, the list of sticking points goes on and on. In my opinion, almost any conceivable scenario in which Israel supports the creation of a sovereign Palestine is preferable to living in a constant state of war. Israeli families live in fear of the next barrage of rockets, while Palestinians live in horrific poverty and uncertainty. This is not a healthy state of existence for anyone involved; it is equivalent to each side cutting off their nose to spite their face. Putting aside all the emotional baggage, we simply must focus on creating a better future, and pressuring our leaders until they acquiesce and do whatever is necessary to put an end to the madness.