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Blog 1 – Over the Border Line: the Israeli-Palestinian Statehood Conundrum

US-Israeli relationship dates back to its creation in 1948. It has been strengthened through foreign aid assistance, shared democratic principles, and mutual concerns and goals in the region. This alliance has developed into joint military exercises, intelligence sharing, and military aid to Israel. This alliance has drawn concern from Israel’s neighbors and tested the resiliency of Arab allied nations in the region. Palestine is not totally left behind though, having received $357 million in foreign aid from the U.S. in 2016. Additionally, the U.S. contributed $355 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency which aided Palestine Refugees (UNWRA); $95 million was specifically dedicated to the West Bank and Gaza. Naturally, aiding to entities at conflict renders the question, can a two state solution ever come to pass? Both claim “right” to inhabit, as seen by the map featuring the Western Wall (Biblical “proof” of Jewish territorial existence), and Al-Aqsa Mosque (continued active center of worship/existence).

The U.S. has long been a proponent of human rights and the spread of democracy; it is here where this week’s blog meets the question of statehood for Palestine and Israel. How do we allow one at the expense of the other? Does this continued U.S. support of two warring nations compromise the American ideological anthem of democracy and basic human rights for all? A single-state solution is not viable for two reasons: each group wants sovereignty resulting from their respective “right” to exist, and a single-state would nullify the Jewish majority in order to justify a “Jewish” state. In the many years of both sides “trying” (used loosely here) to come to an agreement, many lives have been lost and abuses have been dealt from both as well (1987-2014 data). This statehood question for Palestinians becomes murkier with alarming actions by Ramadan Abdullah Shalah. As recent as Feb 2017, he called for joint action between Palestine and Hezbollah against Israel; Hezbollah who is deemed a terrorist organization. In doing so, this call can be seen as rational from the Palestinian perspective; they feel isolated and forgotten in what they deem an Israeli occupation of their lands. Israel, on the other hand cannot afford to allow a single state solution; doing so would end the status of a “Jewish” state, and possible actions Israeli leaders may take to suppress Muslims/Palestinians in order to maintain a political advantage erodes their claim to democracy and human rights. A two state solution is then, the only solution. President Trump most recently shifted from letting Palestine and Israel figure it out, to stating that he would “do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement — to mediate, to arbitrate, anything …” after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This pivot made reaching a solution not just a nicety of the Trump Administration, rather a crucial goal as part of his legacy. Achieving a palatable agreement is easier said than done, but the following is a short list of what my research has shown is needed for peace:

  • statehood for both
  • mutual recognition
  • return of some settlement areas
  • re-drawn borders of Jerusalem
  • Palestinian rejection of terrorism
  • external monitoring (Arab & Western coalition)
  • economic infrastructure & social investment in Palestine
  • Palestinian creation of approved, small army (Germany/Japan-like)

Only time and actions will tell if a solution (a two-state at that) will occur. It goes without saying, Israel is not leaving the region, and the Palestinians have been in the region since under the Ottoman Empire. Both sides deserve peace, safety, and basic human rights that come along with statehood. What are your thoughts?

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