Why Israel's Future Well-Being  Depends on Obtaining a Two-State Solution 

    Opponents of a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have many powerful debating points. The Palestinians have had for many years and still have terrible leadership and they deserve much criticism for their frequent acts of terror, governmental payments to terrorists or their families, denial of the Holocaust and much of Jewish history, teaching of hatred in their schools, and much more. There is much truth in .Israel’s former UN ambassador Abba Eban’s famous comment that, “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

     Despite these negative facts and more, it is essential that Israel seek common ground and make  obtaining a resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians a major priority. Israel needs such a resolution in order to avert continued and possibly increased violence and diplomatic criticism, effectively respond to its economic, environmental, and other domestic problems, and remain both a Jewish and a democratic state.

     A  just, comprehensive, sustainable, mutually agreed-upon resolution of Middle East conflicts is essential and will have many benefits for Israel, the Palestinians, the U.S., and, indeed, the entire world. 

     Since I made Aliyah only about three years ago, after living in the US for 82 years, I am basing my analysis  largely on the views of retired Israeli security and military experts, the vast majority of whom believe that seeking a two-state resolution is the only way to increase Israel’s security. 

     As indicated in the 2013 Israeli Academy Award-nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers, all of the then six living retired heads of the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Service) believed that Israel should be doing more to help resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in order to provide Israel with a decent future. 

     There is an organisation, Commanders for Israel’s Security, composed of 250 retired Israeli generals and leaders of Mossad, Shin Bet and Israel’s police, with a cumulative total of over 7,000 hours of military and national security service, who also stress that it is essential for Israel’s future well being that there be a just, comprehensive, sustainable end to the  Israeli Palestinian conflict.   

    At a time when PM Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians are supporting the establishment of Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), making a two-state resolution of the conflict far more difficult, it is important to consider some of the reasons why ending the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is so essential for Israel’s future well being:

* If there is not a two-state solution relatively soon, Israel will face a future where Arabs are a majority or close to a majority of the population of Israel and Judea and Samaria  Israel would then face the very difficult choice of either giving the West Bank Arabs voting rights, which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state, or not doing so and being looked on by much of the world as an apartheid state. 

* The unstable situation and the widespread hatred and violence in the Middle East could result in a war with devastating consequences for Israel and many other nations. A September 10 Jerusalem Post editorial stated, “on Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Gaza . . . the specter of war is always present.” It is especially worrisome that Hamas and Hezbollah have been stockpiling increasingly accurate and lethal weapons.

* Although there are many causes of anti-Semitism, and it is never justified, one major source for anti-Semitism is the perception that the Israeli rule over West Bank Palestinians is oppressive. Jewish students on US college campuses would no longer have a difficult time defending themselves against criticism from Muslim students if a peace agreement was reached.

* A resolution of the conflict would enable Israel to more effectively address her major economic and social problems. Israel has a large and growing poverty gap and a large and growing deficit. The Israeli educational and healthcare systems have suffered in recent years because so much of the Israeli budget necessarily goes for the Israel Defense Forces and efforts to prevent terrorism. 

Israel needs peace in order to effectively help address an impending climate crisis and other environmental threats. Israel is especially threatened by climate change because, among other problems, (1) the hotter, drier Middle East that climate scientists project makes instability, terrorism and war more likely, according to military experts, and (2) a rising Mediterranean Sea could inundate the coastal plain that contains most of Israel’s population and infrastructure.

* Much of Israel’s attention is properly on security issues, but this diverts attention from other important issues, including health care, education, poverty reduction, adequate housing, and environmental sustainability.

* Failure to achieve a settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict damages Israel’s image worldwide. Of course, much of the negative views about Israel are due to misleading and false media reports, but a just settlement of the conflict would greatly improve Israel’s image.

* A resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would serve as a model for other trouble spots in the world. At a time when military conflicts are becoming increasingly destructive and when so many human needs are unmet, as nations spend huge percentages of their wealth on weapons, it is essential that there be a reduction in wars and violence. If Israelis and Palestinians – two peoples who have been at war for decades – can make peace, it could demonstrate that peace is possible everywhere. 

     The achievement of peace between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab states will be difficult, but working toward it puts into practice essential Jewish values and mandates: to seek and pursue peace (Psalms 34:14), to turn enemies into friends (Avot d’Rebbe Natan 23:1), to work cooperatively for justice (Deuteronomy 16:20), and to preserve God’s world (Genesis 2:15).      

     Among the many blessings of a just Mideast peace agreement s that it would enable Israel to strive to completely fulfill its true moral mission as a model of justice, compassion, and, most important, shalom.

     In conclusion, there is an important choice that Israel faces, between (1) continuation of the status quo, with violence, diplomatic isolation, and current socio-economic problems continuing and possibly worsening, or (2) actively seeking peace in order to avoid a very negative future.