The PRO and CON statements below give a five minute introduction to the debate on the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. (Read more information about our one star to five star Theoretical Expertise System.)
PRO: "Well, there has emerged, over the course of the past ten years at least, a sense that the only way out of the situation in the Middle East is to establish a State of Palestine alongside Israel so that there will be an end of conflict. There is no other solution to end the conflict in reality.
There is an international consensus about it as reflected by the so-called Road Map Quartet [the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations], which is after all the whole world. You have the United States, you have Europe, you have the Russians and the United Nations, which is the whole world, and then there is the Arab League, which is twenty-two different states, and there is the previous Palestinian administration, and the Israeli administration, all of them committed to the two-state solution."
-- Ziad J. Asali, MD President and Founder of the American Task Force on Palestine
Interview with Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations
June 2, 2006
CON: "The paradigm of the Two States will not bring about stability. No! . . . (The Two-State solution) is not relevant. Not relevant . . . (The Palestinian state) will undermine the State of Israel. From there, the confrontation will go on.
The State of Israel is ready to give the Palestinians an independent Palestinian state, but the Palestinians are not ready to give us an independent Jewish state . . . Every agreement you make will be the starting point of the next irredenta. The next conflict. The next war.
The establishment of a Palestinian state will lead at some stage to war. Such a war can be dangerous to the State of Israel. The idea that it is possible to set up a Palestinian state by 2008 and to achieve stability is disconnected from reality and dangerous."
-- Moshe Yaalon Lieutenant-General and former Chief-of-Staff of the Israel Defense Forces
Quoted by Uri Avnery in "The Bogyman"
May 3, 2005
PRO: "The next diplomatic formula that will replace the 'two states for two peoples' will be a civilian formula. All the people between the Jordan and the sea have the same right to equality, justice and freedom.. [T]here is a very reasonable chance that there will be only one state between the Jordan and the sea - neither ours nor theirs but a mutual one. It is likely to be a country with nationalist, racist and religious discrimination and one that is patently not democratic... But it could be something entirely different. An entity with a common basis for at least three players: an ideological right that is prepared to examine its feasibility; a left, part of which is starting to free itself of the illusions of 'Jewish and democratic'; and a not inconsiderable part of the Palestinian intelligentsia.
The conceptual framework will be agreed upon - a democratic state that belongs to all of its citizens. The practicable substance could be fertile ground for arguments and creativity. This is an opportunity worth taking, despite our grand experience of missing every opportunity and accusing everyone else except ourselves."
-- Avrum Berg Former Speaker of the Israeli Knesset
"Now It's Your Turn"
New York Times
Dec. 23, 2011
CON: "Although the one-state approach proposes a united entity between the Jordan and the sea, in fact it represents King Solomon’s original proposal to cut the baby in half. In reality, one state means that Israelis and Palestinians each receive a mutilated and unsustainable version of its national dream.
The Palestinians will never get the national self-determination they seek in a Jewish-dominated single state. Jews will achieve neither the democracy and inner harmony they seek (or ought to), nor legitimacy from the world, as long as they obstruct Palestinian rights to national self-expression in their single state – even before Jews become a minority.
Finally, this conflict is tragically likely to ignite again over ‘some damn foolish thing in the settlements’ (with apologies to Bismark). A one-state solution not only fails to prevent settlements from ripping into Palestinian land and courting violence, it legitimizes expansion – since there is no border. Sadly, we all need one."
-- Dahlia Scheindlin, PhD, MTS Op-Ed Editor at +972 Magazine
"Is It Time to Move On to the One-State Solution?"
Feb. 13, 2011
PRO: "For the Jewish people, Jerusalem is not a city containing holy places or commemorating holy events. The city as such is holy and has, for at least two and a half millennia, served as the symbol of the historic existence of a people hunted, humiliated, massacred, but never despairing of the promise of its ultimate restoration. Jerusalem and Zion have, become 'the local habitation and the name' for the hope and meaning of Jewish existence, and of its continuity from the days when, according to the authors of the biblical books, God spoke of a certain place that he would choose, to the days of the return which -- however improbable it might seem -- was never in doubt for the Jew. Understanding the symbolic function of Jerusalem in Jewish tradition, we come to see that even the avowed secularist's use of this symbol has a measure of legitimacy about it, unparalleled in other traditions."
-- Zwi Werblowsky, PhD
Professor of Comparative Religion at Hebrew University
"Meaning of Jerusalem to Jews, Christians and Muslims,"
Israel Universities Study Group for Middle Eastern Affairs
CON: "According to Islamic tradition, it was the second caliph, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, who recognized this location [Jerusalem] as marking the site of the Prophet's night journey. The caliph is supposed to have done so immediately after the conquest of Jerusalem, during a visit to the city whose historicity is in question, but which most scholars agree probably took place.
The Muslim conquerors understood that this entire site had been the location of the temple first built by Solomon whose repeated destruction is described in the Qur'an, and what they found on their entry into the city was in fact the deserted platform on which the Herodian temple described by Josephus had stood until its demolition by Titus in 70 A.D. At the southern end of this platform the caliph 'Umar ordered the erection of the first of several structures to bear the name of al-Masjid al-Aqsa, the al-Aqsa Mosque, adjacent to which his successor 'Abd al-Malik was to build the Dome of the Rock a few decades later."
-- Rashid I. Khalidi, PhD
Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University
Jerusalem in History
PRO: "[T]he refugee problems [i.e. Jewish and Palestinian refugees] are settled in these two respective states - the question of Palestinian refugees will be resolved in the Palestinian state and not in Israel. Just as the question of Jewish refugees caused by that same Arab assault on Israel in 1948, was resolved within the Jewish state. The Arab attack, the attack of five Arab armies, with the Palestinians, on the embryonic Jewish state caused two refugee problems. About 650,000 Palestinian refugees and a somewhat larger number of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab states. Tiny Israel absorbed all the Jewish refugees and the vast Arab world refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees, and neither justice nor common sense mandates that 63 years later, the Arab world or the Palestinians will come to us and say: Now, absorb the great-great-grandchildren of this part of the refugee problem that we created ourselves. The solution to the refugee problem, both in a practical sense and in the question of justice has to be addressed in the Palestinian state and not at the expense of the solitary, the one and only Jewish state."
-- Benjamin Netanyahu, MSc Prime Minister of Israel
"Address to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors"
June 28, 2011
CON: "In spite of the great pains that were accompanied by uprooting the Palestinian people from their lands, they became more stubborn to return home... We will continue struggling until the principle of right of return as well as freedom and independence for the Palestinian people are achieved...
The return of the Palestinian refugee to his or her home is a constant right that can never be debated and a solution to the refugees issue would never be fair as long as it doesn't include all their historic rights...
The right of return will remain sacred for every Palestinian who was forced by the Zionist war machine to leave his or her home and land in Palestine. The Palestinians won’t succumb to extortion; either we get the home and land peacefully, or we will make sacrifices until we return."
-- Mahmoud Abbas, CSc
President of the Palestinian Authority and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization
May 15, 2010
PRO: "Israeli settlements are not an obstacle to peace... The West Bank is disputed territory. No Palestinian-Arab state ever existed in the region. Palestinian-Arab residents currently have claims to the West Bank, where they want to build a state. Israel also has legal, historic, and security claims to this land. Many argue that the West Bank remains an unallocated portion of the Palestine Mandate of 1920 because the international community never recognized a new governing authority.
The Mandate, the last legal authority, stipulated that Jews should settle in the land. The legal rights accorded to Jews by the Mandate led many scholars to argue that the fourth Geneva convention, which sets rules about occupation of a foreign territory, does not apply to Israel and the West Bank. The 1993 Oslo Accords also do not prohibit Israelis or Palestinians from building communities in the West Bank.
Today, Israelis and Palestinian-Arabs both live in the West Bank. Their governments are trying to negotiate the future borders and decide which parts of the area will be under Israeli or PA jurisdiction. Untill these negotiations conclude, there is no new sovereign authority that replaces the Mandate or an internationally recognized border...
Ideally, Jews should have the right to settle anywhere in the world, just as other national and religious groups do. If there is true peace, the Jewish right to continue to reside in the West Bank should not be abrogated, just as Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens (mainly of Palestinian descent) will have the right to remain in Israel even if a Palestinian state is created."
"West Bank: Settlements, Communities, and Facts on the Ground"
CON: "Settlement expansion extinguishes hope among Palestinians that Israel is serious about peace. It destroys the credibility of Palestinian moderates who reject violence and tell their people that negotiations will deliver a viable state.
Settlements are also a liability for Israel. It is because of settlements that the route of Israel's ‘separation barrier' has been distorted, lengthening and contorting Israel's lines of defense. It is because of settlements that Israeli soldiers are forced to act as police within the West Bank, rather than focusing on their real mission - defending Israel. Settlements are also a huge drain on Israel's economy, with the government continuing to fund construction and to provide settlers a wide range of financial benefits.
Finally, settlements threaten Israel's character as a Jewish state and a democracy. They force Israel to rule over a huge - and growing - non-Jewish, disenfranchised population, contrary to basic democratic values. They erode Israel's image in the world as a democratic state that respects the civil rights of all people under its rule. And, if allowed to block a two-state solution, they will ultimately leave Israeli decision-makers with an impossible choice: be a democracy and give full rights to the Palestinians, at the cost of Israel's Jewish character, or deny rights to the majority of the people under Israeli rule - which the Palestinians will soon be - validating accusations that Israel is increasingly an Apartheid-like state."
PRO: "The solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] depends on the ability of the leaders to cope with extremists and terrorism, and we are not speaking here only of the leaders of the sides directly involved in the conflict. This is the central task of the entire world leadership, and especially of the Arab and Muslim world."
-- Tzipi Livni, LLB Member of the Israeli Knesset
"Address by FM Livni to the Annapolis Conference,"
Nov. 27, 2007
CON:"Despite the attempts to discredit martyrdom operations by the modernists, by those who seek to pacify and tame Islam, and by those who ally themselves with the infidels, it is clear that martyrdom operations are justified and lawful, according to Islam."
-- Hamas "Martyrdom Operation in Islam"
Apr. 1, 2006
PRO:"Terrorism is a deadly obstacle to peace. The fence is a defensive obstacle to terrorism. The purpose of the fence is to keep the terrorists out and, thereby, save the lives of Israel's citizens, Jews and Arabs alike. By serving as a temporary, passive and effective barrier to terrorism, the fence will help restore calm to the region and thereby increase the chances of achieving peace. The wave of terrorism which has murdered over 1,100 Israelis since September 2000 has undermined the peace process and led to deadlock."
CON:"The combined effects of the illegal settlements and the Wall, that has been diverted illegally to protect them, have been devastating on the social, economic and cultural rights of many thousands of Palestinians. Families are divided from each other and from their neighbours, from their agricultural land and other sources of income, from their water sources and from other important infrastructure and services, including schools, health clinics and hospitals. Their new neighbours, the illegal settlers, often treat them with contempt, hostility and even physical violence. The settlers receive massive protection from Israeli security forces, but hardly any protection is being provided to the Palestinians living next door...
[Y]ou have to talk to its victims, to get a glimpse of the intensely negative impact the fragmentation of the West Bank by the Wall, settlements and checkpoints is having on human rights, peace, development and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination."
-- Navi Pillay, JSD UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
"Palestinians Open Case Against Barrier,"
Feb. 11, 2011
PRO: "It must be a peace that makes Israel a part of the neighborhood, a neighborhood that extends from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, across the breadth of the southern Mediterranean, to the coast of the Indian Ocean...
On behalf of all those who seek and strive for peace in my part of the world, I ask you now to exert that leadership once again. We ask you to join with us in an historic effort of courage and vision. We ask you to hear our call, to honor the spirit of King Hussein and Yitzhak Rabin, and help fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace today."
CON:"Israel is our enemy and does not want peace. Peace would mean that Israel would have to return the occupied territories again. Israel was built on aggression and the rejection of peace, and nothing changes."
--Bashar Al-Assad President of the Syrian Arab Republic
Quote from meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Damascus, Syria
PRO: "It is clear that in light of the Hamas majority in the PLC [Palestinian Legislative Council] and the instructions to form a new government that were given to the head of Hamas, the PA [Palestinian Authority] is - in practice - becoming a terrorist authority. The State of Israel will not agree to this. Israel will not compromise with terrorism and will continue to fight it with full force. However, there is no intention of harming the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population. Israel will not hold contacts with the administration in which Hamas plays any part - small, large, or permanent."
-- Ehud Olmert, LLB Israeli Prime Minister
Remarks to the Israeli Cabinet
Feb. 19, 2006
CON: "We should give Hamas time. I'm sure that Hamas will develop, will evolve. We should not prejudge the issue. We object to whatever policies on the part of the Israeli Government right now that are cutting the right of the Palestinians to receive their dues. So it's only a matter of time on that. We are sure that the Palestinians will recognize the requirements of the situation as they stand today: the roadmap; the need for a political peaceful settlement amongst the Israelis and the Palestinians; they need to see the two states living side by side in secure and recognized boundaries for both. So these are issues that the Palestinians and the government of Hamas, when composed, will have to face such requirements."
-- Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit Egyptian Foreign Minister
Quoted from meeting with US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice in Cairo, Egypt
Feb. 21, 2006
PRO: "It is critical that the United States take an active role in helping to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by playing the role of the honest broker at the negotiating table - with the trust of both sides and ability to facilitate direct talks between the parties. The U.S. is the only country that can be successful in this role because of its longstanding and special relationship with the State of Israel."
-- Howard Dean, MD Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)
Remarks at the Arab American Institute (AAI)
Oct. 18, 2003
CON: "To say that the United States is an even-handed broker is a preposterous mischaracterization. The United States is very much in Israel's camp. All the information we have on the negotiations during the last seven years of the peace process has shown that the United States has presented the Israeli point of view in the discussions and remains a partisan of Israel."
--Edward Said, PhD
Late Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University
Culture and Resistance: Conversations with Edward W. Said