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European Council on Foreign Relations




The Israeli debate

By - 10 December 2013

Under Israel’s present system of government, a peace agreement with the Palestinians that entails withdrawal from territory would need to carry a parliamentary majority and, if current coalition agreements stand, also pass a referendum. As Israel’s coalitions cover at least some spectrum of opinion on peace talks (and as there is always some political capital in representing the voters’ misgivings about any withdrawal from the West Bank), this challenge is not to be taken for granted, even in the event of a prime minister strongly committed to pursuing a two-state solution.

First, this category looks at Israeli support for a two-state solution and the priority given to an agreement with the Palestinians. Second, public opinion, especially if a referendum on the agreement is held, will be an important factor in defining the degree to which Israeli decision makers are willing to take risks and be forthcoming in a two-state process. The third indicator deals with the popularity of alternatives to a two-state solution. Although a two-state solution has been long framed as the “only” reasonable outcome of the conflict and that it was only a matter of time before it materialised, in reality, Israelis have at least two more options to choose from, broadly speaking. One is continuing the status quo, and the other is annexing all or some of the territories and either offering full civil and political rights to the Palestinian residents therein or withholding them – the Israeli political right, including cabinet ministers and coalition parliamentarians, increasingly advocate variations on the annexation option. And finally, given that policy is most immediately determined by the policy makers themselves – first and foremost, the executive and the legislative branches of government – the fourth indicator addresses the composition and main activities of the Israeli government.


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