Trump and Netanyahu stand at podiums
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a joint news conference with President Donald Trump at the White House, Feb. 15, 2017. (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-Alex Wong)

Keep the drums beating for a two-state solution

It has become all too common for Bay Area Jews — as well as others throughout the United States — to become resigned to the status quo and believe that the time for a two-state solution is over. Indeed, recent events in both Israel and the United States, including the statements made by President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington last week, suggest that both countries are turning away from this long-established policy.

This is a mistake.

Not long ago, members of our community were aghast at accusations that Israel was becoming an apartheid state. Now, staunchly pro-Israel figures like Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak are warning that without a two-state solution, Israel could indeed become an apartheid state.

Currently, Palestinians living in the West Bank are under occupation by the Israeli military. While there is a Palestinian Authority, its powers and capacity to govern are limited and ultimate control lies with Israel. This control is only set to deepen as the Israeli government moves to legalize Israeli settlements on Palestinian-owned land, making it increasingly difficult to create a Palestinian state.

We must remember there is no one-state configuration that leads to peace. There will be no resolution to this conflict without full political rights for both peoples. Palestinians will not accept permanent rule by Israel. And if Israel were to grant full citizenship to Palestinians, the Jewish votes would soon be outnumbered and Israel would lose its Jewish majority and become a Palestinian state. We know Israel would not allow that to happen.

All so-called “one-state solutions” are recipes only for further infringement on Palestinian rights, more violence and civil war.

While the prospects of a two-state solution may not be bright in the present political climate, we must understand that the alternative one state is unworkable. As American Jews, we must raise our voices to remind our political leaders that the only way to resolve the Middle East conflict is to recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians must have their own countries.

U.S. policy must continue to recognize that a two-state solution is a crucial national interest and the only way to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Governments in Europe, elsewhere in the Middle East and at the United Nations, without a U.S. veto, recognize this. We must ensure that our government continues to recognize this as well.

Jon Kaufman
Jon Kaufman

Jon Kaufman is the Bay Area advocacy co-chair for J Street and a former board president of J. He lives in Oakland.