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“One State”, “Two State” & “Third Way” solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian...

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University of Westminster

309 Regent Street

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W1B 2UW

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The Centre for the Study of International Peace and Security (CSIPS) is proud to announce its inaugural Annual Middle East Peace Conference to be held at the University of Westminster in London on Friday 12th May, 2017.

Negotiations of the Middle East peace process have traditionally focused on one of two plans. The ‘Two-state Solution” dates back to UN resolutions of 1974, and proposes that an independent and sovereign state of Palestine - the precise geographical demarcation of which is disputed – should be established bordering Israel. The ‘One-state Solution’ dates back even further, although it has seen renewed interest since the turn of the 21st century, and proposes that all Palestinian and Israeli citizens should be granted equal rights irrespective of ethnicity or religious belief. However, neither of these processes have been successfully implemented to date, Israel continues to occupy significant areas of the Palestinian Territories as defined under the Oslo Peace accords, and in a recent interview following the passing of UNSC resolution 2332 (2016), Norman Finkelstein claimed that “the Palestinian cause has died.”[1]

At its first level, therefore, this conference seeks to examine ways in which either of these two peace plans can be revived and implemented. Issues of settlement activity, demarcation of borders, the status of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinians outside their homeland, violations of international law, and questions of both terrorism and appropriate responses to such under international humanitarian law continue to provide seemingly insurmountable obstacles to a lasting peace. From a pragmatic perspective, with an estimated 600,000 Israeli residents of settlements living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, the situation on the ground is radically different from that which formed the backdrop to the roadmap in 2003, and even more so the Oslo II Peace Accords in 1994.

Most recently, rhetoric from the president of Israel’s strongest ally – the United States – on the relocation of its embassy and the appointment of a pro-settlement US ambassador to Israel hints that any concessions being pushed for under previous administrations are likely to wane. In light of the current political environment, where even key neighbouring allied Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arab appear to have turned their backs on the Palestinian people, what prospects are there for a continuation of the Two-State solution? What are the roles of new figures in the US administration, Quartet leadership, the UN, and the international community in the coming years? Is it time to abandon the One and Two State-based roadmap for peace? Is it time for a new direction?

For this reason, this conference also seeks to examine alternative methods of peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict beyond the typical one and two-state discourse, questioning whether it is time for the introduction of a “Third Way”. What might this “Third Way” entail and how would it differ from the One/Two-State solutions? What internal and external factors need to be taken into consideration? What regional and international players must be involved, and what incentives need to be offered in order to bring them to the table? What is to be done about the disputed delineation of borders and settlements that have already been built? Where do armed resistance movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah fit? How might the Israeli public respond?

Finally, this conference also seeks to examine the technical structure of a Palestinian State. To date, the Palestinian Authorities have been overwhelmingly dependent on the Israeli authorities from tax collection to provision of utilities, a situation that is certain to last for many years even in the event of a peace agreement being reached. Beyond the political negotiations of reaching an elusive peace settlement, this conference seeks to examine what capacity-building is needed to create a functioning Palestinian state. A future state of Palestine lacks civil servants, policies, bureaucrats, and capacity in many other fields. Where does responsibility for assistance in this respect lie – with Israel as the former occupying state, with Jordan as home to the largest diaspora, with the Palestinians alone, with another side? What steps would be needed to create working administrative, legislative, and judicial branches of a Palestinian state, to provide water and electricity, to create international trade, to construct an economy? Put simply, how might Palestine get “up and running” as a state?


[1] “Norman Finkelstein on the UN Security Council Resolution 2334”, available at http://bit.ly/2ib9eqU

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University of Westminster

309 Regent Street

London

W1B 2UW

United Kingdom

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