Two States or One? The Future of Israelis and Palestinians

The Middle East Policy Council's 74th Capitol Hill Conference has concluded. The video is available below. You can also read the unedited transcript or listen to the podcast. A succinct press recap is provided below. To receive invitations to future events, click here, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. To view our recent Capitol Hill Conferences, click here.

October 9, 2013 at the Washington Court Hotel on Capitol Hill


Ian Lustick

Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania


Yousef Munayyer

Executive Director, The Jerusalem Fund & The Palestine Center


Jeremy Ben-Ami

President, J Street


Ahmad Samih Khalidi

Senior Associate Member, St. Anthony's College at the University of Oxford; Former Adviser to the PLO Delegation ('91-'93)


Omar M. Kader

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Middle East Policy Council


Thomas R. Mattair

Executive Director, Middle East Policy Council



Two States or One? The Future of Israelis and Palestinians

Experts from academia and civil society debate whether a two-state solution is still plausible

WASHINGTON, October 9, 2013 — The Middle East Policy Council's 74th Capitol Hill Conference featured a lively debate on what is possible versus what is plausible in resolving the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians. Some panelists offered a vigorous defense of the two-state solution, arguing that despite myriad challenges, this path is the best chance for long-term peace, security and justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike. Others portrayed it as a "two-state illusion," viewing the current negotiations as only deepening the oppressive conditions for Palestinians by relying on outdated assumptions about how to resolve the conflict.

The event panelists included Ian Lustick (University of Pennsylvania); Yousef Munayyer (The Jerusalem Fund); Jeremy Ben-Ami (J Street); and Ahmad Khalidi (University of Oxford). Omar Kader, chairman of the Middle East Policy Council Board of Directors, moderated the event. Thomas R. Mattair, executive director of the Council, was a discussant on the panel. More specific remarks from the four panelists included:

Ian Lustick described negotiations over a two-state solution as merely cover for continued settlement expansion and occupation. In his view, Israelis will not feel compelled to significantly alter the status quo except in the event that they feel existentially threatened. Deeply entrenched political, economic and security realities reinforce this assessment, he argued.
Yousef Munayyer sees a one-state reality today, obscured by three false but commonly accepted myths: that Middle East peace is a vital national security interest of the United States; that ending the occupation is in Israel's interest; and that the status quo is unsustainable. He views the status quo as not only sustainable but also profitable for Israel.
Jeremy Ben-Ami argued that when choosing between continuing to fight, dividing the land into two pieces or sharing it, the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would chose to divide the territory into two states. To him, the alternative — a "one-state nightmare" — poses a series of practical questions in implementation that would quickly undermine its plausibility.
Ahmad Khalidi offered further skepticism about the one-state solution because there is no plan for achieving it if two-state negotiation failed. He also cited various uncertainties in the region — ranging from Syria's chaos to Iran's nuclear program — as variables that could introduce unexpected new complexities to the current negotiations.

An edited video by speaker, including a full transcript from the event will be posted in a few days at and published in the next issue of the journal Middle East Policy. The full video from the event is already available on the Middle East Policy Council website.

Contacts: For interviews or other content associated with this event, please contact Rebecca Anderson – (202) 296 6767 –