18.02.2021 analysis by Dr. Omer Einav

Israel’s Security in a Two-State Reality

One reason many Israelis have lost faith in the feasibility of a two-state solution is fears over security. Molad’s latest study unpacks these concerns and shows that a Palestinian state will not jeopardize national security – in fact, it is the best way to ensure Israel’s long-term interests
Read the full report here.
This is a deceptive time for Israelis. The decade we’re living through has been the most peaceful in the history of the conflict with the Palestinians, and the recent spate of diplomatic agreements with Arab countries seems to have proven the stance Netanyahu’s governments in opting for “conflict management”. The alternative, striving for a peace deal with the Palestinians, seems redundant. Why revisit a repeated failure, especially if changing tack has reaped such unanticipated diplomatic rewards?

As tempting as it may be to get caught up in the zeitgeist, the truth remains simple. All the experts interviewed for this report, including Israeli security officials who held top positions in recent years, agree: the calm of the present moment is merely a hiatus. Yes, living conditions for Palestinians have improved in the West Bank and the peace process has stalled; but people living under military occupation are bound to rise up, sooner or later. Support for the Palestinian Authority’s security forces is at an all-time low and will dwindle as a solution grows further. Violence will erupt again. We cannot know how or when, but it will – and when it does, we will be unprepared.

True, regional developments, and especially the latest diplomatic agreements, must change our geopolitical understanding of various issues. Yet the basic fact remains: about 14 million Israelis and Palestinians live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel has been holding millions of people under occupation for more than half a century. Holidays in Dubai and direct flights to Morocco will not make that go away.
This report is the latest in Molad’s series of analyses of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the lens of security, following on “The Strategic Balance of Israel’s Withdrawal from Gaza”, “Israeli Security Pays Price for Settlements”, and “From Conflict Management to Managing an Agreement” (Hebrew). The overall picture that emerges is clear: it is in Israel’s best interest to resolve the conflict based on the formula of two states for two peoples.

The report outlines the potential implications of a Palestinian state for Israeli security. Based on expert opinions, we analyze the alternatives and unpack popular counterarguments to show that the two-state solution is still Israel’s safest and least risky course of action.

Key findings:

  • According to top Israeli security officials, violent conflicts do not have a ‘status quo’. Reality is ever-changing and paradigms develop. Most Israelis understand this – as our commissioned broad public opinion survey found – along with other trends discussed in the report. The Israeli majority knows the status quo is not sustainable and prefers the two-state solution.
  • Avoiding action based on the assumption that the present state of affairs will last forever willfully overlooks changes already happening on the ground and ignores the growing risks.
  • Security concerns are not an obstacle to a peace deal. In fact, a Palestinian state established as part of an agreement may improve Israeli security. Senior members of Israel’s defense establishment say that the IDF will know how to respond to resulting threats. A future agreement should be guided by asking what kind of country Israel wants to be and what solution to the conflict will best serve its interests. The security forces will adapt accordingly.
  • Despite the failed negotiation attempts so far, the idea of partition has remained unrivalled for more than 80 years in terms of feasibility, rationale, level of detail and the extent to which it addresses the interests and aspirations of both nations. Although it seems further away now than ever, that does not make the idea any less valid. Nor does it diminish the need to achieve it, in one form or another, in order to ensure stability and security for Israel.
  • An agreement is not unilateral, and will include many mechanisms safeguarding Israel’s security interests not employed in the withdrawals from Gaza and Lebanon.
Over the last few years, security concerns have become a key argument against the establishment of a Palestinian state. This study proves these claims farfetched, biased, and fundamentally flawed. A Palestinian state will not be established tomorrow. What matters now is to recognize that the status quo is an illusion and that in terms of Israeli security, a Palestinian state is not a compromise – it is a necessity.
Read the full report here.
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