One State Threat

This concept refers to an interplay of forces, expressed both through public discourse and actions, pushing toward a One-State Solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict.


The concept of One-State Threat refers to an interplay of forces, expressed both through public discourse and actions, pushing toward a One-State Solution and undermining a Two-State Solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict.

Dynamics of the One-State Threat


The One-State Threat arises from the interplay of two primary forces:

  1. The Contemporary One-State Argument – an argument, based on political theory and current demographic trends, that challenges the existence of Israel as a Jewish state; and

  2. Forces seeking to undermine a Two-State Solution, through the use of force and other tactics.

These combined forces are translated into political reality by way of the basic de-legitimization of Israel, which focuses the forces on specific issues under consideration at a given time.

The One-State Threat will reach its climax at the Moment of Inversion Toward the Palestinian Statehood, the point when the official Palestinian position will switch from advocating a Two-State Solution to advocating a One-State Solution.

The One-State Threat may be viewed as a manifestation of the Phased Plan, a long-term Palestinian effort, implemented in phases, to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state.

The Contemporary One-State Argument

The Contemporary One-State Argument operates in the arena of public discourse and political argument (see above). It appeals to contemporary liberal democratic ideals and provides an intellectual backdrop for modern Anti-Zionism.

Forces Acting to Undermine a Two-State Solution

At the same time that the Contemporary One-State Argument is being advanced, forces act to undermine a Two-State Solution. These forces often operate in an uncoordinated and unpredictable fashion. The principal such forces are:

  • Terrorism against Israel and Israelis. Certain groups use terrorism against Israel and Israelis to derail a Two-State Solution. These groups often strategically time their violence to coincide with negotiations, elections or other important political events (e.g., firing Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel as disengagement is being debated in Israel to make it more difficult for Israel to disengage). These groups include Palestinian factions (e.g., Hamas and Islamic Jihad), as well as groups supported by Arab and Moslem nations (e.g., Hezbollah in coordination with Iran).

  • Obstructionism and violence within the Palestinian territories. Certain Palestinian factions use obstructionist tactics and violence within the Palestinian territories to undermine the ability of the Palestinian Authority and other institutions that might promote a Two-State Solution.

  • Advocates of Raising the Bar for a Two-State Solution. Non-violent groups use political tactics to raise the bar for a Palestinian State to come into being and, as a result, impede a Two-State Solution. By setting high standards for Palestinian statehood, these forces work to ensure the failure of Israeli-Palestinian efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully. For example, proponents of the One-State Solution contend that Israel has ongoing Responsibility for ensuring the economic and political “viability” of Palestinian territories (See: Concept of a ‘Viable Palestinian State’). Opponents of a Two-State Solution can readily contend that Palestinian territories at any given time are not economically and politically viable.

  • Advocates of the Two-State Solution Is No Longer Feasible Argument. As facts on the ground develop, non-violent groups also contend that a Two-State Solution is, or is on the verge of becoming, no longer feasible. They point to Jewish settlements, roads, historic issues and other factors to argue that Israel and the Palestinians are now irreversibly and inextricably intertwined, and that only a One-State Solution is feasible.1

The One-State Threat as a Tool to Advance a Two-State Solution

The foregoing discussion assumes that proponents of a One-State Solution actually desire such a solution. However, some proponents of a One-State Solution may be using it as a means to obtain a Two-State Solution.

Because a One-State Solution presents an existential threat to Israel as a Jewish state, Israel cannot ignore the One-State debate. The threat of One-State creates a powerful incentive for Israel to increase concessions to the Palestinians toward creation of an independent Palestinian state. Given this logic, one may threaten a One-State Solution as a means to obtain one's true goal of a Two-State Solution – an independent Palestinian state co-existing with a Jewish State of Israel.2 Such use of the One-State Threat may, however, compound other forces that actually seek a One-State Solution. For further discussion, see Game Theory Issues.

The Basic De-legitimization of Israel and the One State Threat

The basic de-legitimization of Israel operates to mobilize the forces behind the One-State Threat and focus them around an issue of the day. Specifically:

  1. The forces behind the One-State Threat join with each other and with other potential forces. For example, forces behind the One-State Threat seek assistance from unrelated movements critical of Israeli policies (e.g., anti-globalization groups and certain human rights organizations). Those movements may be unaware that they are, specifically, undermining a Two-State Solution and supporting a One-State Solution.

  2. The combined forces converge on specific issues under consideration at a given time. For example:
  • In the period of the 1999-2001 Permanent Status Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, certain factions (Palestinian and non-Palestinian) committed violence to derail the negotiation process, while additional forces demanded a Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees to the State of Israel, demanded exclusive Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram Al Shariff (Temple Mount), and mobilized against the notions of End of Conflict or achieving Finality of Claims. Those actions served to prolong the conflict and impede implementation of a Two-State Solution.

  • In the period 2002-2003, the Quartet Roadmap – advocating the coming into being of a Palestinian State within a Two-State Solution – was the formally agreed-upon platform for political progress. Forces behind the One-State Threat converged to block implementation of the First Phase of the Roadmap through terrorism and of the Second Phase of the Roadmap by demanding that understandings regarding Permanent Status precede understandings regarding a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders, in violation of a central premise of the Roadmap, thereby derailing the Roadmap and the prospect of a Two-State Solution.

  • From 2003 to the present, the Disengagement Plan has been the principal platform for progress. A successful disengagement would support a Two-State Solution by, among other things, demonstrating that separation of Palestinian and Jewish entities is feasible. Conversely, an unsuccessful disengagement would be treated as evidence that Israel and the Palestinians cannot be separated, and, hence, support for the Two-State Solution Is No Longer Feasible Argument. Accordingly, forces behind the One-State Threat have converged to oppose the Disengagement Plan, in spite of the fact that it would result in Israeli withdrawal and dismantling of settlements without any corresponding Palestinian commitment. Those forces have attempted to undermine the Disengagement Plan through violent means (terrorism against Israel and Israelis) and non-violent means (e.g., advocacy against the plan). For elaboration, please see: Impact of the Disengagement Plan on the One-State Threat.

  • In the intermediate future, even in the event of full Israeli civic and military withdrawal from Gaza, key issues likely to arise will focus on whether there has been an End of Occupation and an End of Responsibility by Israel over Gaza, and whether Gaza is “viable”. Forces behind the One-State Threat are likely to converge to argue that there has been no End of Occupation and no End of Responsibility, that Gaza following disengagement is not viable, and that only a One-State Solution therefore is workable.3

  • In the long-term future, even if a Palestinian State comes into being (i.e., the Two-State Solution has apparently succeeded), forces pushing for a One-State Solution may converge around the status of Israeli-Arabs, arguing that Israeli Arabs are discriminated against and that the only way to improve their condition is to alter the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

1 See, e.g., Judt Tony, “Israel: The Alternative,” The New York Review of Books, Vol. 50, No. 16, Oct. 23, 2003; Tarazi Michael, “Kicking the Beehive,” Ha’aretz, Oct. 20, 2004.

2 See, e.g., Tarazi Michael, “Kicking the Beehive,” Ha’aretz, Oct. 20, 2004: “Some Palestinians may advocate one-state as a threat – ‘Jews are so threatened by equality that the best way to get a fair two-state solution is to say we only want one'” (italics added).

3 These arguments already are being advanced. See, e.g., PLO Negotiations Support Unit, “The Israeli ‘Disengagement’ Plan: Gaza Still Occupied” (Oct. 2004) (site visited October 10, 2004): “Notwithstanding the terms of the [Disengagement] Plan, Israel will remain an occupying power under international law after disengagement from Gaza and is therefore bound by the obligations of an Occupying Power under international customary law and the Fourth Geneva Convention”.