What it is and why we advocate for it.
There are different solutions along a spectrum of entirely Israel to entirely Palestine, but based on the past, violence cannot end unless some compromises are made. Below is a basic history of the solution and how it has evolved over time.
The original proposal for a two-state solution was created in 1937 by the Peel Commission, a group sent by the British, who ruled the area at the time via mandate. The commission was tasked with investigating the motives for Arab unrest, and they found that the mass immigration of Jews had sparked fears that historical Palestine would be dominated by Jews. Ultimately, they concluded that the coexistence of the 2 parties in a single state would be impossible as a result of hostility and conflicting demands for land and status. The Peel Commission's Partition Plan in 1937 (below) had a much smaller Jewish state, more proportionate to the population difference, with Jerusalem being controlled by the British. The Arab State would stretch from the Red Sea almost to the Sea of Galilee, making up most of Israel today. Jews accepted the plan, but Arabs rejected it.
In 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine into a state for each group, although the way this would be done was highly controversial. Neither state would have any control over Jerusalem, which would be an internationally controlled city; both groups insisted Jerusalem was historically and spiritually crucial to their state. The Jewish state would comprise 56% of Palestine, despite making up 31% of the population, which caused Arab outrage. While Zionists justified this with the need for a homeland as a result of anti-semitism in Europe and elsewhere, Arabs did not see this as a reasonable excuse. In what Israel considers the "War of Independence", but what Palestinians call "Nakba" (the disaster), Israel forces captured far more territories than allotted in the UN plan. Over half of Palestinians fled their homes, leading to an intense refugee crisis that partially fuels today's violence.
Eventually, in 1967, Israel captured the remaining parts of historical Palestine from Jordan and Egypt, as well as the Sinai from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. The map now looked nothing like what was originally thought out (see timeline for more info). In 1988, Palestinian leaders formally recognized Israel and proclaimed a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, the first sign that Palestinians accepted the two-state solution.
However, efforts to implement such a solution have been undermined by diplomatic arguments as well as violence (some extremism) from both sides. The Oslo Accords of 1993 attempted to implement such a solution, but was only an interim agreement and did not spell out what a Palestinian state meant. As an interim measure, Palestinians gained the limited self-rule under the "Palestinian Authority". However, both sides continued to push more most or all of the entire landmass, without room for compromise, and this stubbornness and new physical confrontations stopped the peace process. As a result of many occurrences of violence, final status discussions supposed to be concluded by 1998 broke down. In a "Make or Break" conference, Israeli PM Barak and Palestinian president Arafat failed to reach any agreement, even with the mediation of US President Clinton.
The "Road Map" has developed over many conferences and is essentially an application of the two-state solution in the current situation that would establish a state for Palestine if Palestinians cease violence and reform their political system, and if Israelis stop settlement activity in Palestine. This moral solution is endorsed by the US, UN, EU, and Russia (as well as by us), but no significant peace agreement has been made with it. Unfortunately, with the increase of Israeli settlements and the 2002 wall built around the West Bank, many politicians find it illogical - as there is little territory even left for a Palestinian state. With every new aggression, the parties move farther from the possibility of a peaceful two-state solution that prevents violence.
One Jewish-led State - Many, especially right-leaning, Israelis claim that Palestinians have no historical and legal right to a state. They support this with the fact that Arabs have rewritten the past to "deny the 3,000-year-old connection of Jews to Israel", and that what the Jews have cannot be compared - archeological sites, monuments, language, etc. However, one such state can be remembered in post-1967 times, in which Israel had taken control of all Palestinian territories. Palestinian Guerrilla groups formed throughout the land, with violence intensifying not only in Israel but in nearby nations. It is true that a Jewish homeland is crucial as a result of growing antisemitism, but a single Israel-led state would not have this. In addition, the birth rate of Palestinians is over 4 births per woman, and increasing, while Israel is at about 3. It is predicted that, under an Israeli-led government, Arabs would soon be the majority, leading to sharp tension between the two parties, and undoubtedly more violence. Based on what history tells us, and reasonable predictions, this would lead to no more peace than the status quo.
One Arab-led State - Less supported by the international community, except for strong support by most to all Arab nations, this solution would be an Arab state. It is more than likely that this solution would cause mass chaos, or even extermination of some or all Jews (based on which Palestinian leaders are chosen to lead). According to reasonable statistics, as seen above, the total area in question will have more Arab Palestinians than Israeli Jews in the near future. With the support of the majority of the public and an Arab government, violence will undoubtedly spike. This is comparable to Hamas's governing style, as they encourage violence on Jews. The entire purpose of any concentration of the Jewish people was to escape persecution and antisemitism, and this path forward cannot be trusted to steer away from those times.
One Mixed-led State - Most historians and experts now believe, and increasingly so, that this is the best path forward. However, many neglect to remember the reason this conflict has become so complicated and intertwined with hatred, racism, and violence - greed and lack of willingness to settle. In this situation, which is gaining more traction, Israelis and Arabs will be competing in government to advocate for their own group and to lower the status of the other group, taking basic human rights as each side has done before. It is ineluctable that little, if anything, will get done in government, and issues that don't even relate to the conflict will be impacted severely. This back-and-forth tension will ultimately be too much to handle for the fragile new state and violence will once again break out. While many seem to be moving in this direction, our organization is firmly against this solution, as we feel it is unacceptable to settle for a decision that is likely to cause the furthering of hatred, bigotry, violence, and antisemitism.
WHY WE ADVOCATE FOR IT
The two-state solution recognizes and approves of both claims to the land. What is not approved by this plan and can never be accepted is violence against one's neighbors in the name of greed for more land (on both sides). Peace comes from contentment, and contentment can only come from the end of all-or-nothing politics when talking about Israel and Palestine.
RECOGNIZES RIGHTS FOR ALL
SELF-GOVERNANCE, NOT EXTREME PARTISANSHIP
Much of this conflict revolves around the lack of rights toward both Israelis and Palestinians. With Israel building settlements and using military activity to control movement, the Palestinian right to live and move where one wants in their society was limited. With Palestine using rockets and other weapons, they infringe on the Israeli right to safety. This solution allows rights for both groups to live peacefully, self-govern, and participate in international affairs with all nations, not just the ones that hate the enemy. Instead of using violence and rights abuses, diplomacy will be the main route of change.
A single state, which would be under joint leadership (provided no drastic changes) would inevitably have a wildly inefficient government. All politicians will be occupied advocating for their own group and attempting to lower the rights of the other. The ultimate consequence of partisanship, hatred will tear apart communities under tension-filled leadership. In a two-state solution, each people will have the ability to self-govern, making government more efficient as politicians will want to build up their own nations, not tear the others down.
KEY COUNTRIES ALREADY ON BOARD
MAINTAINS ORIGINAL IDEA OF A JEWISH HOMELAND
The 4 nations/groups most geopolitically involved Middle East peace - the US, EU, UN, and Russia, have supported this solution. In fact (disregarding a slight change in President Trump's policy), the US has officially supported this solution since the 1970s, though they do not recognize Palestine in its current state. In addition, the vast majority of the world already accepts both entities as states. Let's not forget that Israel and Palestine have both accepted some form of such a solution as well. If we can create a set of borders and guidelines that brings the two nations together, this solution is not that far-fetched.
In 1948, the idea to found Israel was profoundly necessary, as Jews throughout the world were under intense persecution and surrounded by anti-semitism. Israel was founded to give the Jewish people a safe place in the land of their ancestors, and has been successful in protecting international Jews from hatred. Unfortunately, hatred that would certainly derive from a one-state solution, even under a combined government, would destroy this ideal. Jews would be under attack throughout the country, not just in border areas, and there would, therefore, be no safe space for Jews to escape anti-semitism.
$173 billion dollars. This is the number a published research report from RAND from C. Ross Anthony, Daniel Egel, Charles P. Ries, and other credible researchers attributed to the amount that would be made off a two-state solution. For reference, that number would be the 53rd GDP in the world for any country. Alone. This study essentially estimated the net cost and benefits of five options/solutions to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a two-state solution, coordinated unilateral withdrawal, uncoordinated unilateral withdrawal, nonviolent resistance, and violent uprising. It looked at current economic costs of the conflict, including those that can't really be put into words.
First, lets define those terms. A two-state solution, in this case, would mean the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel based on Clinton parameters (94-96% of the West Bank, all of Gaza). Coordinated unilateral withdrawal would be a situation in which Israel coordinates with Palestine to relocate settlers in the West Bank. Uncoordinated, however, would be a situation in which Israel acts alone and pays most of the settler relocation costs. Nonviolent resistance would include legal efforts at the UN and elsewhere, trade restrictions, and demonstrations. Violent uprising, the scariest future, sees foreign terrorists alongside everyday Palestinians rising and organizing to fight and kill.
Researchers looked at both direct costs/benefits (budgetary costs at the governmental and household level) and opportunity costs (economic opportunities missed because of the conflict). For the first, researchers identified costs to Israelis for security, settlements, and Palestinian services and to Palestinians for destruction of infrastructure, territorial waters, Palestinian labor in Israel, freedom of movement, access to services, and prisoners in Israel. Regarding opportunities, however, the Israeli side is missing out because of instability, the BDS movement (sanctions supported by governments worldwide), tourism, Arab world trade, Palestinian trade, and Palestinian labor. The Palestinian side loses opportunities like the control of territory, access to water, barriers to trade, licensing, tourism and travel, and the dissolution of the PA.
The study found, by far, that a two-state solution provides the best economic outcomes for both sides. Billions upon billions for both sides to focus on their economies instead of killings could be saved. Israel would gain $123 billion and Palestine would gain $50 billion over ten years - but, this is far more proportionally for Palestinians (36% increase in average per capita income). The current GDP of Palestine is between 14 and 15 billion per year.
Meanwhile, current trends to return to violence would have horrible negative economic impacts, as expected. In fact, losses are far worse in this future than imaginable. Per capital GDP would fall by 46% in the West Bank and Gaza and 10% in Israel in just a few years. In most scenarios, values of economic opportunities is more larger than expected changes in direct costs. Withdrawal by Israel from the West Bank would be a huge economic hardship, requiring resettlement/movement of Israelis there. Taking into account security costs, the Two State Solution is the only solution that actually improves the situation, compared to the 4 others that either don't change or decrease GDP. Noneconomic factors pose substantial barriers to change, as well. Power imbalance and economic incentives, ongoing regional instability, perceived security risk, clash of historical narrative, lack of political consensus, and demographic trends help keep this conflict churning.