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Two-state solution is rejected only by Israel and the Palestinians, but a Biblical 'from the river to the sea' can resolve the conflict

Protseters holding a banner "From the river to the sea" at European March organized by a coalition of organizations including the ABP to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, Brussels, Belgium, May 19, 2024. (Photo: Sophie HUGON / Hans Lucas)

While the two-state solution enjoys widespread support from the international community, the reality is that the vast majority of those who would inhabit these two states do not endorse the idea. Like it or not, based on all related public opinion polls, it is a fact that despite occasional and sometimes manipulative affirmations from top leadership on both sides, there is widespread rejection of the two-state solution within both societies.

While both sides blame each other for the decades-long spiral of violence, the world is also divided into two camps: one part blames Israel for the core of the problem, while the other believes that all the troubles stem from the Quran-inspired hatred of Jews among Muslims.

We can all have legitimate opinions on the subject, however, as believers, it is not our God-ordained task to publicly defend or criticize the decisions of Israel’s governments. Rather, we should view events with God's plan and promises concerning the people of Israel in mind, while praying for those suffering, mourning, for the release of hostages, for decision-makers, for all parties involved to turn to God, for forgiveness, and for reconciliation.

Beyond prayer, our optimal approach involves examining past events and confronting the seemingly bleak future with the guidance provided by God's Word. With this perspective, we are confident that the situation is not without hope; God has a plan and a favorable solution. However, to reach it, we must follow the path of the Messiah, walking steadfastly in the way of truth.

This path, though often difficult, means liberation from the captivity of false, deceptive narratives, and from concealing inconvenient facts. This is the way of the Redeemer, the path of redemption, which directs those who wish to walk on the way of life.

According to the Bible, God promised Abraham and his descendants the land stretching from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. This promise has been fulfilled: Abraham's descendants, including the offspring of Ishmael and his six other sons from Keturah, as well as partially Isaac’s descendants, have all dwelled in this region for millennia.

However, it is no coincidence that God later reaffirmed the promise specifically to Isaac and then to Jacob, that He would give the land of Canaan to their descendants, the Jewish people. This promise is what gave life to the Abraham Accords, made and intended to be expanded before the current war. However, until the Palestinian issue is satisfactorily resolved, it is unlikely that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that have shown a willingness to do so will normalize relations with Israel.

Every attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue has failed so far. This is mainly due to the one-sided approach, where parties involved often refuse to acknowledge certain facts and confront the truth of the other side's claims and legitimate expectations due to certain interests. However, if we examine both sides in the spirit of truth, an alternative to the two-state solution naturally emerges, offering attainable, just peace, securing fruitful coexistence for both nations in alignment with the principles of the Bible.

The majority of Palestinians reject the two-state solution, and so do the Israelis

The Arab inhabitants of the Promised Land were subjects of the vast Ottoman Empire for centuries, until the end of World War I, when the Land of Israel became part of the British mandate. Their population began to grow during the first waves of Jewish immigration, partly due to higher infant survival rates in the rapidly developing infrastructural environment. However, their numbers increased primarily due to the mass immigration of Middle Eastern Arab families hoping for work and a better future. During World War I, about half of the 600,000 Arab population living here were already new immigrants.

In the decades before the establishment of the state, the Jewish National Fund bought large tracts of land from local landowners, establishing new settlements, agricultural, and industrial enterprises. These areas and the Jewish-majority cities formed part of the newly established Israel. The UN decision that enabled the establishment of the Jewish state added further mostly uninhabited lands (e.g., the Negev desert) to Israel.

While Jewish leaders decided in favor of the UN partition plan in 1947, most local Arab leaders and neighboring Arab states rejected it. During the ensuing conflicts, the newborn Jewish state, poorly equipped with outdated weapons, managed to defeat the well-armed and much larger Arab forces. About 75% of the roughly one million Arab population fled their homes to the West Bank occupied by Jordan and Gaza occupied by Egypt, believing they would soon return after the Arabs' quick victory. They left behind villages and neighborhoods, roughly 4,500 square kilometers of privately owned land, about 20% of today’s Israel.

The refugees were deliberately kept in camps by Jordan in the West Bank and by Egypt in Gaza. They were denied passports, Jordanian or Egyptian residency, and even work permits outside the occupied territories by the Arab authorities in control. Along with this, for the first time in history, the collective consciousness of the Promised Land's Arab inhabitants, the Palestinian national consciousness, was born.

In 1967, Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt. In the subsequent peace treaties, neither Egypt nor Jordan claimed these areas, which were mostly inhabited by Palestinian refugees.

The Jewish state has expressed its willingness several times to establish an independent Palestinian state through agreements. The Oslo Accords and later negotiation processes, such as the Taba peace agreement and the Camp David summits, were all steps in this direction.

In this context, agreements were reached between Israel and the Palestinian leadership aimed at establishing self-governing structures. The much-criticized "security barrier" or "fence" built by Israel in the early 2000s was also suspected by many as a unilateral determination of future national borders.

Israel's most far-reaching offer was to give the Gaza Strip and 94-96% of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, along with territorial compensation within Israel for the Palestinians for the areas remaining with Israel. This offer included concessions regarding Jerusalem, offering its eastern parts to the Palestinians as their capital.

However, the divided, tribal Palestinian society, afflicted by corruption within the Palestinian Authority, scarcely rallied behind their leaders in the negotiation. It's no surprise that they couldn't muster concessions to reach agreements with Israel. Throughout lengthy negotiations, they consistently rebuffed the specifics of territorial divisions, proposals for compensating Palestinian refugees, the status of Jerusalem, and sovereignty matters.

Generations of Palestinians have been raised with the expectation that their family's property left behind in Israel will be returned to them. In schools across Palestinian Authority territories and Gaza, classroom maps depict the entire land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea without the '67 borders, featuring only Arabic place names. While some mainly desire to reclaim family properties left behind or receive compensation for them, many do not aspire to an independent state alongside Israel. Many, influenced by the falsehoods embedded in the Palestinian Authority's education system, believe that Israel's entire territory once belonged to the Palestinian nation. Their ultimate desire is for control over the whole country – preferably without Jews.

However, it is a big, counterproductive mistake to hold all Palestinians accountable for the attacks of October 7. As articulated in an ALL ISRAEL NEWS editorial, "Assertions of collective guilt of Gazans not only distort the truth but also harm Israel in several ways. They contribute to a toxic public discourse, impede the potential for constructive dialogue leading to future reconciliation, and complicate the challenging task of building trust." Palestinians, like any other population, are diverse. The day before Hamas' horrific attacks in Israel, the Arab Barometer conducted a survey, revealing that Hamas was not very popular among the population, with 22% expressing support. However, recent polls also show that since October 7 it has doubled: more than a third of the Palestinians support Hamas' fight. Despite the terrorists' inhumane cruelty. Even at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Gazans becoming homeless again, since, in contrast to Western individualism, radical Islam's collective perspective values community interests over individual lives, justifying any human sacrifice for the sake of an effective jihad.

Support for the two-state solution among Israeli Jews reached its peak in the mid-1990s, championed by influential figures who played key roles in the 1967 Six-Day War, like Yitzhak Rabin, who served as IDF chief of staff during the conflict before becoming Prime Minister and signing the Oslo Accords. However, following Rabin's assassination in 1995 and the subsequent rise of Hamas in Gaza after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, support for the two-state solution has significantly dwindled among Israeli Jews, both socially and politically. There's a legitimate concern that an independent Palestinian state, similar to Gaza's evolution into a terrorist stronghold, could pose a fatal security threat to Israel.

The collapse of peace talks and the failure of negotiations are thus the result of multiple factors, including chronic mistrust between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

So what's next?

In the Bible, there is a recurring admonition from Moses through the prophets, that the same laws should apply to the non-Jewish peoples living in the Promised Land as to the Jewish people. Today, this is true for approximately two million Israeli citizens who are Arab, Bedouin, Druze, and others. However, annexing the West Bank under current circumstances would spell the end of Israel's national security and its Jewish character if the millions of Palestinians living there were granted citizenship rights. Not to mention Gaza, since the combined population from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea includes roughly equal numbers of Jews and Arabs.

So, applying the Bible's requirement that "One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you" (Numbers 15:16) within the framework of a one-state solution "from the River to the Sea" seems entirely disconnected from present reality.

Especially as it is written in the book of the prophet Ezekiel:

"'Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance,' says the Lord God." (Ezekiel 47:21-23)

This is as impossible today as expecting a lamb to graze peacefully alongside a wolf. Yet God is capable of such miracles. As promised in numerous places in the Bible, He will act. Some believe that beyond prayer and waiting for God's miraculous intervention, there is little humans can do for peace in the Middle East. However, they overlook the fact that God's miracles often come about through human action. This is illustrated, for example, in the book of Esther, where God is not mentioned even once, yet the whole story is about His miraculous intervention. 

Israel needs miraculous deliverance and revival today. Even before the current war broke out, years of political deadlock and increasing social tensions had made it widely accepted that change and renewal were imperative. In religious circles, there is anticipation for the Messiah’s arrival, which they would like to hasten by extending the scope of religious laws in Israel. Others argue that the electoral system, and some believe that the entire state system, must undergo fundamental changes. While political and social battles over legal reforms have long been ongoing, discussions on changing the basic state structure have largely remained academic. Various alternatives have been discussed in forums among the highest echelons of society, religious and secular communities, and even the Arab sector.

One of the most discussed proposals is a new federal-based state system somewhat similar to that of the United States.

One-State Solution

There are several versions of this proposal, and many believe that if a serious political party were to support one of them, it could successfully address numerous social conflicts and problems, including the religious-secular divide and the Jewish-Palestinian issue.

This system would consist of autonomous states (cantons) with their own laws, fitting within the legal framework of a federal state. A future Constitution would guarantee equality before the law for every citizen, and ensure the loyalty of the member states to the federal Israel. The IDF and a federal security force, akin to the FBI, would be responsible for the country's external and internal security, respectively. Meanwhile, each state would maintain its own police force. The Constitution, along with the wise determination of the boundaries of the (at least a dozen) autonomous states, could also guarantee the preservation of Israel's Jewish character, regardless of the demographic impact of millions of Palestinians gaining citizenship.

To achieve this, satisfactorily compensating the Arab residents who waive their right of return is crucial. Those who do not wish to accept the obligations of Israeli citizenship would not be eligible to run in parliamentary (Knesset) elections for the federal Israel and would not be allowed to vote for it.

In addition to financial compensation, millions of Palestinians who previously lacked them would also be granted internationally recognized passports along with equal rights. This means that those who wish to do so could freely leave the country to start a new life elsewhere.

For Palestinians choosing to stay, renouncing violence would be a prerequisite to attaining full and equal citizenship in Israel.

Most skeptics cite the anti-Jewish passages in the Quran while dismissing the possibility of peace between Israel and followers of Islam. However, they overlook two key facts.

Firstly, our sacred texts also contain sections whose literal interpretations are no longer considered relevant by commonly accepted modern interpretations. According to Jewish religious law, which strictly defines the morality and ethical standards of the Israeli army, the Torah commandment to exterminate the Canaanite peoples cannot be applied to any living nation today, as their kinship cannot be proven. Therefore, the contemporary relevance of these commandments lies in the spiritual and moral realm.

Secondly, there are already Muslim states that have established peace with Israel, and others are considering it. In contrast to Shiite Islamic states hostile to Israel, in these Sunni states, jihad is more commonly perceived as an internal moral struggle focused on spiritual development, personal growth, and the peaceful advancement of communal and social well-being, similar to the Judeo-Christian interpretation strategy of the conquest of Canaan.

If, under the supervision of educational experts responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with Israel's constitutional principles, the anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli sections of the curriculum in Palestinian schools are replaced with civic education and a progressive interpretation of the Quran, significant change can be achieved in both the short and long term. This would be akin to the reforms in the educational system in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where antisemitic content, including passages from the Quran and the Hadith, have been removed from all public educational material. The realization of this is possible even here. Let's quickly add: God willing. For good intentions and organization alone are not enough; it requires a miracle, on both sides.

This miracle, like the miracle of the modern establishment of Israel, will happen someday, just as Jeremiah the prophet writes about the non-Jewish nations who choose to peacefully remain in the Land of Israel:

"And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people." (Jeremiah 12:16)

These are indeed times of suffering and critical decisions, but we believe they herald the birth of a new era, much like the pains of childbirth. This era carries the promise of renewal for both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as in their mutual relations.

The time will come when the reborn Israel will truly shine as a light unto the nations of the world, with Jerusalem standing as the capital of peace. While we may witness a very hard and painful reality at this moment, we are on our way there.

Yehuda is a former mathematics and science teacher in Israel's first accredited Messianic school, based in Jerusalem, holding academic degrees in mathematics, physics, and philosophy. He joined the ALL ISRAEL NEWS staff in August 2023.

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