Sunday, November 19, 2023

RAND, 2021, Alternatives in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The one-state solution ranked, on average, as the second least unfavorable alternative for the Palestinians. A number of Palestinian participants enthusiastically supported this alternative, with participants reporting that it was the “first solution proposed by the Palestinians and the best solution for us” and that, “to a large extent, the one-state solution is the best for Palestinians’ liberation.”7 Those who supported this alternative emphasized the potential benefit along core dimensions, including political and social equality, security, and economic opportunity. Detractors were primarily concerned that the one-state solution would legitimize Israeli control over Palestinian land and erode the Palestinian identity, though many also believed that Israel would be unwilling to follow through on the guarantees for political and social equality specified in the one-state solution alternative. This alternative was generally more favorably viewed by Gazans, as compared with West Bankers, which seemed to be in large part because they viewed this option as giving them the best opportunity to alleviate their poverty and improve their employment prospects.

The Palestinians overwhelmingly indicated that this alternative would not be feasible. Specifically, they stated that they did not believe that Israel, as the more powerful party, would be willing to make the many compromises that would be necessary for the one-state solution to succeed, particularly given demographic trends that suggest a gradual erosion of Jewish influence.8 Some of the participants sharing this view said that the one-state solution was incompatible with what they viewed as Zionism, which favors Jews above others, and that the hate, racism, and prejudice on both sides would make this very difficult to implement. A few participants were a bit more optimistic but stated that the details of the alternative would need to be much better articulated and have an associated international vision for overseeing and guiding their implementation:

This alternative will not be implemented unless there is there is an international vision to create one state that would be supportive to Palestinians and encourage integration similar to South Africa.9

Palestinian participants highlighted three major factors that explained why the one-state solution was preferred to the confederation, the status quo, and annexation. The first was that, for some participants, it was the only alternative that could lead to equality between Palestinians and Israelis (Table 5.4). Participants were supportive of the proposed governance structure, specifically the creation of a democratic govern- ment that represents Palestinians and Israelis in proportion to their demographic size. As compared with other alternatives, some Palestinians viewed governance under a one-state solution as achieving equality with Israeli Jews and the ability to exercise their political, religious, and cultural rights.10
7 The first quote is from Hebron, and the second is from Gaza.
8 As an example, a participant in Bethlehem opined, “I think it is a thesis from the left, but it won’t get the Israeli consensus. The majority of Israelis reject this solution, fearing the demographic expansion of the Palestinians and Arabs in general.”
9 Discussant in focus group in Khan Younis. 
10 One participant equated this alternative with secularism, which was an appealing factor: “What I like about this option is that the state would be secular and democratic. Religion has a lot of influence in many communities, including ours, leading to fundamentalism. In my opinion, a secular and democratic society makes life easier” (discussant in focus group in Bethlehem).

...The continuation of the status quo was the preferred alternative among Israeli Jews, with support across the political spectrum. Notwithstanding the problems of the status quo, as identified by some study participants as “occasional flare-ups,”1 the status quo is familiar and clear. This was true even among participants who self-identified as center-left, a group that is typically characterized as against the status quo. Israelis under the status quo are satisfied with their lives. Deviation from the status quo could entail risks, but there is no incentive to change. One participant in such a group stated that “Sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t know.”

Few participants doubted the feasibility of the status quo, which most participants interpreted as its sustainability. Unlike the discussions around other alternatives, study participants for the most part seemed not to understand why they were being asked about the feasibility of the status quo. In their minds, the fact that they were living in the status quo meant that it is feasible. There was a general sense that conditions were perhaps not ideal under the status quo but that the problems were reason- ably well understood and that Israel had proven able to manage those problems. One participant described this view as follows:

The status quo is the status quo. Of course, it is feasible. It is the current situation. We have been in the same crisis for 70 years, and crisis needs to be managed. We are managing the crisis and it’s not as bad here.2

1 The relative security and “occasional flare-up” phrase were raised in every group—for example, in the groups of immigrants from the former Soviet Union (Ramat Gan, Israel, July 12, 2018), traditional right-wing voters (Ashdod, July 16, 2018), and center-left voters (Ramat Gan, Israel, May 21, 2019).
2 Soviet émigré, Tel Aviv, 2018.

, Nov. 10, "What Israelis Think of the War With Hamas" 
Poll results were also hawkish when it came to the use of force in Gaza: 57.5% of Israeli Jews said that they believed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were using too little firepower in Gaza, 36.6% said the IDF was using an appropriate amount of firepower, while just 1.8% said they believed the IDF was using too much fire power, while 4.2% said they weren’t sure whether it was using too much or too little firepower.

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