Liberal political blogger Josh Marshall just wrote a blog post discussing the recent U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements, but he starts off by discussing the viability of long-term solutions to the Israel-Palestine problem:

There is no longterm solution to the conflict other than some form of partition of the land. This is dictated by an iron grip of demography and ideology. You can either have partition, a binational state or a state in which Jews and a portion of the Arab population (those who are currently citizens of Israel) have political rights and the majority of Arabs (those who now live in the territories) do not. You can call that last option anything you want. But the countries of the world will never and should never accept it. The binational option would be the end of Zionism and either a politically unstable and unworkable state or a slow motion and perhaps fast motion bloodbath. The least bad option for everyone is partition (indeed, it needn't be a bad option at all with creativity and good will, but both are close to non-existent).

This is obvious. The alternative ideas one hears from the Zionist right are either ugly or fantastical. From a Israeli and Zionist perspective, whether the Palestinians are nice or pragmatic or want peace or don't is basically beside the point. The trajectory is the same regardless. These questions affect timing and process, not end result.

My question is, what are these "alternative ideas" that Marshall is alluding to? Among members of the Israeli Right who do not support a two-state solution, what alternatives have they proposed?

I think there are some on the Israeli Left who support a one-state solution dissolving Israel's identity as a Jewish state and making all Palestinians into Israeli citizens. But that doesn't strike me as something that anyone on the Israeli Right would support.

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    @KDog Is there enough room in Jordan for all the inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank as well as the current inhabitants of Jordan? Has the government of Jordan expressed any willingness to take all the inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank? Dec 26, 2016 at 16:29
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    @KeshavSrinivasan Yes there is plenty of room. Note that most of the Palestinian refugee camps are in Arab lands. They just won't resettle them.
    – user9790
    Dec 26, 2016 at 16:35
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    This seems like a logical falsehood as a basis of the question, the assumption is that the right doesn't accept 2 state solution (as opposed to the truth, that it supports 2 state solution, but not the exact form of it that antisemitic left in Europe wants - they don't want Jews ethnically cleansed from where they lived for 1000s of years. You can call Hebron a "settlement" all you want, but Jews lived there 2000 years longer than Arabs). Note that any "two state solutions" proposed by others always ethnically cleanses Jews from one state but not Arabs from another.
    – user4012
    Dec 26, 2016 at 16:44
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    @user4012 lets have the facts talk: washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/12/22/…. How come settlements are spreading (25% in 5 years) if there is a real intention of leaving them later? This should not be a place for name-calling, warmongering ("everyone who does not agree me is an antisemite", etc., etc.) and other rather silly but mean tactics that only debase the people using them...
    – SJuan76
    Dec 26, 2016 at 23:25
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    @SJuan76 - I'm not willing to engage in play of words with you. You either support ethnic cleansing or not. Making excuses for why you support it is irrelevant (unless you advocate for Arab populations to be called "settlements" too and expelled from Israel? I doubt you are). The fact that Jews lived in many of those "settlements" (including Jerusalem) well before either 1967 war or 1948 war makes the whole discussion irrelevant to green borders or anything else.
    – user4012
    Dec 26, 2016 at 23:38

7 Answers 7


First of all, the main option the question is ignoring is that most opponents of the "standard" Arab-imposed 2-state solution idea (return to 1967 lines) are actually in favor of 2-state solution, just in forms different than what Arab states want.

  • Dual-citizenship idea. Quoting from Wikipedia:

    A number of proposals for the granting of Palestinian citizenship or residential permits to Jewish settlers in return for the removal of Israeli military installations from the West Bank have been fielded by such individuals[47] as Arafat,[48] Ibrahim Sarsur[49] and Ahmed Qurei.

    Israeli Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in April 2010 that "just as Arabs live in Israel, so, too, should Jews be able to live in Palestine." … "If we are talking about coexistence and peace, why the [Palestinian] insistence that the territory they receive be ethnically cleansed of Jews?".[50]

  • Populated-Area Exchange Plan (Lieberman plan)

    a territorial exchange whereby Israel would annex almost all Israeli settlements in the West Bank which are situated in major settlement blocs close to the border, and withdraw from the remaining few deep inside the Palestinian territories. At the same time, it would transfer Arab-Israeli areas to the Palestinian state.

Now, as to complete alternatives to two-state solution:

Woodrow Wilson School Graduate Policy Workshop to the Two-State Solution In the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict compiled a pretty comprehensive list of solutions.

Page 17 of the report lists a summary of main ones (I'm just listing the options themselves and not the workshop's analysis of them):

  • Status Quo: Many Israelis, and some Americans, believe that managing the status quo (meaning the continued absence of a formal settlement) is the most viable and feasible alternative to the two-state solution.

  • One-state solutions 1: Many left-wing Palestinian academics and activists, and some far-left-wing Israelis, view a one-state solution with equal rights for all inhabitants as the only just solution to the conflict.

  • One-state solutions 2: Growing numbers of right-wing Israelis, and Palestinian cholar Sari Nusseibeh, have promoted a one-state model in which Palestinians have limited or different political rights. Numerous variations of both ideas exist based on unitary, federal, binational and confederal models.

  • Three-state solution (Israel, West Bank and Gaza): There is a growing belief among some that prolonged West Bank-Gaza divide could become permanent, producing a de facto three-state solution.

  • Jordan Option 1: “Jordan is Palestine” idea promoted by far-right Israelis;

  • Jordan Option 2: Jordan-Palestine confederation promoted by some Jordanians.

  • Egypt-Gaza Option: Some far-right Israelis would like Egypt to annex or assume greater responsibility for Gaza.

  • Trusteeship: Interim international administration over the future Palestinian state

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    All the bullet points in the second part of the answer are full quotes from WW report, I just decided to omit the blockquote markup as they are all quotes.
    – user4012
    Dec 27, 2016 at 0:42
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    This would be a stronger answer if it directly answered the question of "which right-wing solutions is Marshall probably referring to as 'ugly and fantastical'?" As is, I'm guessing One-state solutions 2 and possibly Jordan Option 1 or Egypt-Gaza Option. It's not clear to me what makes the latter two options "ugly".
    – Brythan
    Dec 27, 2016 at 4:15
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    @Brythan - Marshall is arguing against straman, so I don't want to dignify his ideological ramblings with attempts to figure out what he was referring to since he didn't bother saying so himself. Frankly, I'm more than tempted to edit out any mention of that personage out of the question and turn it into a neutral "what are proposed alternatives to 2 state solution", but not sure if OP would strongly object.
    – user4012
    Dec 27, 2016 at 14:53

First, I want to point out that the occuapation is 50 years old. It has worked fairly well for Israel and its goals regarding regional security and territorial expansion have largely been achieved.

It might seem strange to say that a day after four Israeli soldiers were killed by an Arab Israeli ramming them with a truck. But look at the numbers, terrorism has waned over the years and the number of successful attacks are record low.

At the same time, Israel has improved its image in the Arab world. One example is the Arab Peace Initiative, presented by the Saudi king in 2002, which offered Israel peace and recognition in exchange for withdrawal from the territories captured in 1967. Such an initiative would have been unthinkable in the 1980's.

For Israel, things are moving in the right direction albeit slowly. The state knows there is a cost to the occupation, but so far it has been willing to shoulder it. Therefore it seems most likely that the state will uphold the status quo but advance its interest in key areas such as strengthening its grip on East Jerusalem.

@user4012's answer is a good summary of the most popular solutions to the Palestine question. So I will just describe the right-wing ones. Remember that these aren't (currently) seriously considered by the Israeli establishment.

Annexation of Area C

Education minister, Naftali Bennett wants to annex Area C of the West Bank. It corresponds to the white area of this map:

Area C of the West Bank

He is the leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party which currently holds 8 of 120 seats in the Knesset (Israeli parliament).

I think Marhall thinks this solution is "ugly or fantastical" because constructing a state out of the yellow areas of the West Bank would be impossible. The Palestinians in those areas would be living in a territorial void without political rights.

Population Transfer

Likely the "ugly or fantastical" idea Marshall has in mind. The idea is described in A History of the Concept of "Transfer" in Zionism by Israel Shahak:

Since early summer 1987, a movement has been growing in Israeli-Jewish society which supports the idea of expelling all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to neighboring Arab countries or, preferably, beyond. The present plans resemble older Zionist attempts or plans for the expulsion of Palestinians, referred to euphemistically as 'transfer' plans. It must be emphasized that the existence of a very strong minority that advocates this idea, combined with the support or at very least the lack of opposition from influential personalities, makes this idea of 'transfer' a potentially very dangerous one. Indeed, a significant minority of Israeli Jews takes this option seriously. In general, opposition inside Israel to transfer includes people from across the political spectrum, but it is much stronger among the secular than among the religious.

This idea was advocated by Meir Kahane of the right-wing Kach party which was banned in 1994.

A more recent party supporting "transfer" is Benny Elon of the Molodet party. His ideas, formulated in the Elon Plan is a mix of forced and voluntary expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank. He notes that about half of all Palestinians would be willing to emigrate given the right incentives:

"It can be examined whether it is not more humane, still, to give a million families 100,000 dollars each, and have them rebuild their lives, in the same way that my father, a refugee from Dusseldorf, and the refugees from Morocco and other places did when they built this country…"

An even more recent example is Baruch Marzel of the now defunct Jewish National Front.


It's important to note that these ideas are only propagated by the right-wing of the right-wing. Those who consider Benjamin Netanyahu a leftist.


(I highly doubt Marshall was referring to this solution, but it does answer the question, as it is a proposal from a member of the Israeli right -- Dr. Mordechai Kedar, the noted Israeli scholar of Arabic culture and lecturer in the Arabic Studies department at Bar-Ilan University.)

Any solution must pass the following litmus test: will it provide political stability to the Palestinian people?

The Palestinian Authority already fails this test abysmally. It holds power only because of its role as the largest employer in the area, because of the brutal repression it carries out against all dissenters, and because it cooperates with Israeli security forces. While Abbas is reported to be in good health, he's in his 80s and I suggest it's unwise to count on this state of affairs continuing much longer.

At this point, history demonstrates that any solution that involves a state run by Palestinians -- either a two-state solution, or a binational single state -- is liable to either fall into the same mold as the PA -- a secular regime repressing any sort of dissent -- or become like Hamas-run Gaza, a terrorist organization whose goal is to destroy Israel and push sharia law on the world. Neither possibility, nor the even worse case of a pendulum swinging back and forth between the two, can remotely provide political stability to the Palestinian people.

But if we look at the Middle East, there are a few countries who have achieved political stability, and thus economic stability, and even almost fantastic wealth -- the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.

Dr. Kedar's thesis is that these countries (the UAE is actually a loose federation of sovereign states, much like the EU) are each built around a single tribe. Because tribal loyalty is still an extremely powerful force in the Middle East, nation-states built around the traditional tribal structure have far more staying power.

In contrast, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, are all aggregates of tribes / ethnic groups / religious groups. The subgroup on top uses brutal force to maintain its hold on all the others, while the other subgroups constantly wage a near-existential battle to reach the top.

Dr. Kedar argues the same is true of the Palestinian people. Fatah is resented by the local families as much for its interloper status as for its failures. Per Dr. Kedar, the measure of tribal loyalty is the degree of intermarriage; the different families generally do not intermarry with each other.

Thus, in order to provide political and economic stability, the international community should push Israel to negotiate directly with the individual families, creating a separate and independent emirate for each one if they so wish. The resultant emirate city-states would be politically stable, because local authorities would have the greatest interest in policing their own people, but would not be resented as some kind of overlordship.

Dr. Kedar has identified 7 polities, in addition to Gaza. Each emirate would act with independent sovereignty, control its own economy, educational system and form of government. They might band together a la the UAE -- United Palestinian Emirates -- or they might keep separate.

This plan also benefits Israel. It addresses Israel's security needs. Stable political systems would be an incredible boon to Israel, but the economic benefits and interactions would outweigh even those.

The stability of the proposed emirates would make them greatly attractive targets for foreign investment. But even the local economy could see rapid gains, particularly if the emirates would leverage agreements with Israel in that direction. For example, Hebron used to have a thriving leather-working industry; but it failed when Israel began importing cheap leather from other sources. As part of the agreements between Hebron and Israel, Hebron could demand an Israeli tax hike on the imported leather, to make Hebron leather profitable once more.


The Camp David Accords say:

... In order to provide full autonomy to the inhabitants, under these arrangements the Israeli military government and its civilian administration will be withdrawn as soon as a self-governing authority has been freely elected by the inhabitants of these areas to replace the existing military government.

Egypt, Israel, and Jordan will agree on the modalities for establishing elected self-governing authority in the West Bank and Gaza. The delegations of Egypt and Jordan may include Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza or other Palestinians as mutually agreed. The parties will negotiate an agreement which will define the powers and responsibilities of the self-governing authority to be exercised in the West Bank and Gaza.

A withdrawal of Israeli armed forces will take place and there will be a redeployment of the remaining Israeli forces into specified security locations. The agreement will also include arrangements for assuring internal and external security and public order. ...

A strong local police force will be established, which may include Jordanian citizens. In addition, Israeli and Jordanian forces will participate in joint patrols and in the manning of control posts to assure the security of the borders...

In other words, the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza shall have full autonomy, but not an independent state; much like many other autonomous administrative regions around the world.

As the accords were signed by a right-wing government headed by Likkud (the largest right-wing party in Israel), this can be seen as the official position of Israel's Right.


What alternatives to a two-state solution have members of the Israeli Right proposed?

It is worth noting that some of the solutions viewed today as right-wing were not in fact seen as such a few decades ago, notably in pre-Olso world.

The most manifest example is the idea of giving the West Bank (back) to Jordan, which was the Israeli Labor party (i.e. left-wing view) in the aftermath of the Six Day War of 1967 (and the follow-ups in the form of the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippour/October War).

This view was grounded in the famous UNSC resolution 242, which required Israeli withdrawal from territories captured in 1967 conflict in exchange for the recognition by its neighbors (aka "land-for-peace".) This also meant return to the status quo before 1967, when the West Bank was a part of Jordan, whose Kings saw it as quite logical that they should be guardians of the Muslim Holy Places in Jerusalem, as descendants of the Prophet and of the Sharifs of Mecca. Indeed, Jordan (for its own reasons) has been the most pro-Peace country throughout the history of the conflict.

The right-wing view at the time was simply incorporating West Bank into Israel, arguing that the pre-1967 borders were no more viable than the borders enshrined in the earlier resolution 181 (the UN Partition Plan for Palestine.)

It was only at this point (after failing to destroy Israel and grab some land for themselves) that the radical regimes in Syria and Egypt (led respectively by Assad-father and Nasser/Sadat) began promoting Palestinian cause, as a way of eliminating Israel. Indeed, their opposition to peaceful settlement even resulted in rupture of the diplomatic relations between Egypt and Jordan in 1972, over the Jordanian alleged intention to reach an accomodation with Israel. (Of course, Egypt itself would be later boycotted by the Arab world for making peace with Israel in 1978.) Likewise, Syria attempted invading Jordan as a way of helping Palestinian Guerrillas to overthrow the monarchy during the Jordanian Civil War of 1970.


I recall hearing talk of a 3-state solution during the George W Bush administration: Israel as-now, West Bank as a PLO-run state and Gaza as a Hamas-run state.

For now though, I think the political actors are happy with the status quo so expect greater amount of settlements into West Bank, violence in new settlements from Palestinians in reaction to encroachment and then wall extension and construction as Israel's booming economy gobbles up more land whereas the hobbled Palestinian economy continues to underperform.


Even otherwise right now in 2017 many even pro-Palestinians feel that the two state solution, advocated tirelessly by mediocre politicians who lack historical vision, is therefore unrealistic, unworkable and dangerous. Unrealistic and unworkable because one can’t unscramble an egg, and dangerous because genuine grievances can’t be suppressed permanently by shortsighted political decisions.

Moreover, Jews, Muslims, Christians and others would be perfectly free to practice their religious beliefs and, unlike the current situation, would enjoy unfettered access to their respective holy places. And all would be treated equally before the law as citizens.

Furthermore, every citizen would be free to live wherever he or she likes in accordance with the law. For example, a Jew would be free to settle anywhere in Israel/Palestine. A Palestinian would be accorded the same right.

Nonetheless, the two communities must realize by now that that they have to reform and amend their old, anachronistic ways and especially their views of each other.

Palestinians will have to discard, once and for all, their dreams of cleansing Palestine of Ashkenazi and other Jews who arrived in the country following WWII.

Likewise, Jews must come to terms with the fact that Palestinians have at least an equal right to this land of Israel/Palestine.

This vision of one-state for all, where Jews and Palestinians live equally and peacefully in a unitary, democratic, civil state is not too idealistic to be practical. It happened in South Africa; and it is practiced in many countries all over the globe.

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    Welcome to Politics.SE, we normally expect answers to be backed up with credible/official sources, could you provide any for this answer? May 5, 2017 at 15:03
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    Even more problematic, this doesn't answer the question. The question is what the Israeli right thinks should be done, not what should actually be done. Perhaps this responds to one of the other answers, but it is not itself an answer to this question.
    – Brythan
    May 5, 2017 at 20:14

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