Absorbing the nearly three million Palestinians on the West Bank would either spell the end of a Jewish state or destroy Israeli democracy if Palestinians were denied equal rights.
“If the two-state solution dies, it will be the responsibility of Israel, not the Palestinians. But if the Israelis kill it, which they’re in the process of doing now, unfortunately with the help of Trump’s administration, then the only option will be for us to fight the apartheid system and bring it down, which means one state with equal rights for everybody.”
— Mustafa Barghouti, a physician who sits on the P.L.O.’s central council
The Israeli right, emboldened by President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, is not the only faction arguing for a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
The Palestine Liberation Organization has also begun to ask whether that might not be such a bad idea, though it has a radically different view of what that state would look like.
As momentum ebbs for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both sides are taking another look at the one-state idea. But that solution has long been problematic for both sides.
For the Israelis, absorbing three million West Bank Palestinians means either giving up on democracy or accepting the end of the Jewish state. The Palestinians, unwilling to live under apartheid-like conditions or military occupation, have also seen two states as their best hope.
Now, for the first time since it declared its support for a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel in 1988, the P.L.O. is seriously debating whether to embrace fallback options, including the pursuit of a single state.
“It’s dominating the discussion,” said Mustafa Barghouti, a physician who sits on the P.L.O.’s central council, which is to take up possible changes to the national movement’s strategy later this month.
Palestinian supporters envision one state with equal rights for Palestinians and Jews. Palestinians would have proportionate political power and, given demographic trends, would before long be a majority, spelling the end of the Zionist project.
That outcome is unacceptable to the Israeli right wing, which is pressing to annex the land on the occupied West Bank where Jewish settlers have built communities while consigning Palestinians to the areas where they live now.