What is Happening in Israel

On May 10, 2021, in the final days of Ramadan, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) stormed the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque with tear gas and stun grenades. 

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam, but is part of a larger complex called the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism. Though Israel is sovereign over the Temple Mount, it handed control of the area to an Islamic Waqf (committee) after the Six Day War in 1967. Currently, the Waqf forbids non-Muslims from praying on the Temple Mount and limits their visits to specific hours and locations. 

The siege injured more than 180 Palestinians, many of whom were worshippers. Immediately, controversy erupted. Israel’s opponents rushed to condemn its actions while supporters ran to its defense.

But really, this recent conflict just makes it clear why compromise between Israelis and Palestinians—in the form of a two-state solution—is more necessary than ever.

Storming Al-Aqsa

The events leading up to the siege, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict generally, are wrought with indefensible and morally questionable decisions.

In early April, Israel limited gatherings at the Damascus Gate, a popular Palestinian meeting place, responding to increased propaganda calling for violence against Israelis. The IDF worried that agitators would use the site to stage riots, as they have in the past. Palestinian media aired TV segments with phrases like “our bullets will make sounds of joy to herald signs of victory in order to cut off the invading occupiers . . . ” twenty times between April 2 and 10.

One day after Israel barricaded the Damascus Gate and on the first day of Ramadan, IDF soldiers violated their agreement with the Islamic Waqf. They cut power to Al-Aqsa’s speakers, silencing evening prayers to prioritize Israel’s national remembrance ceremony honoring fallen soldiers.

In response to Israel’s closure of the Damascus Gate and silencing of evening prayers, some Palestinians launched a “TikTok Intifada” against Jewish civilians. The intifada, or uprising in English, involved reposting violent videos of Palestinians attacking orthodox Jews. Fatah, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) dominant political party in the West Bank, also disseminated additional propaganda glorifying violence against Jews. 

One day after the TikTok Intifada began, Israel restricted worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to Palestinians with the COVID-19 vaccine. While most of Israel’s population is vaccinated, the Palestinians have only received 120,000 doses for their population of 5.5 million. The decision technically aligned with health recommendations from the CDC and World Health Organization but was also a predictable outcome of Israel and Egypt’s blockade of the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip. 

The TikTok Intifada spurred Jewish extremist group Lehava to march through Jerusalem in a display of “national honor.” The ultra-nationalists passed a large gathering of Palestinians and chanted “death to Arabs,” sparking further violence. Hoping to ease tensions, Israel reopened the Damascus Gate and banned Jews from the Temple Mount.

The rising temperature reached its boiling point in the days before May 10, when some Palestinians hoisted the flag of Hamas above Al-Aqsa, launched fireworks at IDF officers below, chanted we are all Hamas . . . shoot a rocket at Tel Aviv tonight, and sang “bomb, bomb Tel Aviv.” 

Hamas is the PA’s dominant party in the Gaza Strip and advocates for both the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews within. Members of Hamas’s military wing openly admit, “any killing of a Jew was considered a success.” The US State Department considers Hamas a terrorist organization and two of Hamas’ founder’s sons have defected from the movement and condemned it. 

But the strongest condemnation of Hamas comes from its founding charter, which persistently expresses contempt for the Jewish people. In 2017, Hamas attempted to reform its image by drafting a new charter that “affirms its conflict is with the Zionist project not with the Jews because of their religion.” But their revised constitution still accepts “all means and methods” (including violence) for overthrowing the “Zionist project” and does not distinguish between violence against Israeli civilians and lawful military targets. SkyNews highlighted this irony in an interview with Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar, who lauded Hamas’s attacks of “very important points [in Israel], including most of the overcrowded areas, the civilian society.” 

On May 10, the agitators’s support for Hamas, attack of IDF officers, and potential to riot spurred the IDF to storm the compound and disperse the crowd. The siege overwhelmed the agitators, but also disrupted the prayers of thousands of peaceful worshippers during one of the holiest times of the year. After the siege, the IDF discovered that some Palestinians had been stockpiling fireworks, stone slabs, and rocks for days, preparing for a potential offensive.

In the backdrop of these clashes, Palestinians were further enraged by a court case that threatens to evict six Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Once the UN created Israel, the surrounding Arab countries attacked. During the fighting, Jordan and Israel illegally invaded and captured East and West Jerusalem, respectively. In the time that followed, Jordan and Israel each expelled Jews and Palestinians from their sections, seized their property, and distributed ownership among Palestinian and Jewish refugees. Though, in some cases, Jordan leased refugees land rather than providing them ownership.

Later, Israel triumphed over Jordan in the Six Day War, captured East Jerusalem, and soon passed the 1970 Legal and Administrative Matters Law. The decree maintained Jordanian leases but returned land ownership to the original owners from before the Arab-Israeli war. Since Jordan only expelled Jewish residents from their territory, this exclusively benefited Jews. Meanwhile, Israel didn’t pass a similar law for West Jerusalem, where it had expelled Palestinians. In this way, Israel’s 1970 policy compensated Jews for the property that Jordan seized from them, but hung many Palestinians—from whom Israel seized property—out to dry. 

In 1982, East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents agreed to recognize Jewish ownership of their property on the condition that they pay rent as “protected tenants.” This status prevented their new landlords from raising lease rates or evicting residents. But recently, the Palestinian tenants violated their agreement claiming Israel tricked them into signing it. As a result, their Jewish landlords have moved to evict them.

Many Palestinians, who have faced years of discrimination via legal technicalities in Israeli property law, feel the case highlights a blatant example of anti-Palestinian bigotry: Israel provided Jews special land ownership privileges while denying Palestinian’s their residency rights. Meanwhile, supporters of Israel point out that the Palestinians involved in the case violated their own lease agreement, justifying eviction. 

Timeline of events preceding the storming of Al-Aqsa. Time progresses from left to right. Sources: April 10, April 12, April 13, April 15, April 16, April 19, April 20, April 25, May 4, May 7, May 8, May 10. N.d. indicates the exact date is unknown.

The Aftermath

As retaliation for Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa, Hamas launched an unprecedented campaign of rocket attacks against Israel. In three days, Hamas fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel. For the first 18 hours, Hamas launched nearly one rocket every three minutes, hoping to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Hamas’s missiles, aimed at civilian population centers like the cities of Tel Aviv and Ashkelon, are intended to kill as many Jews as possible. 

Though the Iron Dome successfully intercepts nearly 90 percent of rocket fire, 10 percent breaks through. By increasing the absolute number of rockets fired, Hamas increases the quantity that hits their civilian targets. Hamas even bombed an Israeli aid convoy on its way to help Palestinians in Gaza, shutting an Israel-Gaza border crossing and halting the aid.

Israel defends itself with precise strikes against military targets; however, Hamas purposefully plants weaponry in residential neighborhoods to increase the likelihood of civilian casualties. It’s a public relations victory when Hamas can claim that Israel bombed a residential area. Hamas knows that the western media will air headlines like “The Latest: Israeli aircraft strike another building in Gaza,” or “Videos show Israeli airstrikes leveling Gaza apartment buildings amid escalating violence” without any context. Specifically, that civilian areas become lawful military targets when co-opted for military purposes. 

To clarify, the IDF does not operate on the principle that the mere presence of soldiers in a building justifies its demolition. Rather, only using that structure for military purposes, like directing attacks or launching rockets, renders it a lawful target. 

Israel warns residents in Gaza to evacuate with targeted phone calls and the firing of non-explosive warning projectiles. In the cases of the headlines above, the IDF fired non-explosive warning projectiles at both compounds before destroying them. No law of war requires Israel to do this. Unfortunately, warnings don’t always work because Hamas often urges residents to stay home despite the danger

Hamas’s practices of “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population” and “utilizing the presence of a civilian . . . to render certain points . . . immune from military operations,” are both war crimes according to the Geneva Convention. The latter practice also explains why such a large fraction of those killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are Palestinian. 

Israel’s Iron Dome protects its population from 90 percent of the missiles fired at it and its bomb shelters add another layer of safety, while Hamas intentionally endangers their own population for the sake of public relations. As of this writing, rockets have killed between 100 and 210 Gazan civilians compared to twelve in Israel, though these numbers are subject to change. One estimate suggests that as many as ninety-one of these deaths were due to the 680 defunct Hamas rockets that misfired in Gaza, bringing the civilian deaths caused by Israel down to between ten and 120. Further, journalists caught the Gaza Ministry of Health—which provides the Gazan death toll—inflating civilian deaths in 2008 and 2014

Israel’s targeting of Hamas’s weaponry and intelligence apparatus—even when Hamas places them in civilian areas—is perfectly within their rights according to the Law of Armed Conflict. All nations have an inalienable right to self defense. When fired upon by Hamas, Israel has a duty to defend its citizens and retaliate in full force, regardless of Hamas’s military tactics. As American army lawyer David French puts it, nations have a right to defend themselves regardless of whether their opponent fights dirty.

Efforts to frame the Israeli-Hamas conflict as “disproportionate” and “unequal” unavoidably deny Israel its inalienable right to self defense. Conditioning Israel’s right on how many Israeli civilians Hamas kills blatantly violates the meaning of “inalienable.”  In World War II, Germany suffered fourteen times more casualties than America. No one seriously argues that America shouldn’t have defended our European allies because of this disparity. 

It’s borderline antisemitic that many people expect Israel, but not Hamas, to abide by guidelines stricter than the Law of Armed Conflict. Holding the Jewish state of Israel to different moral standards than America or any other country—like conditioning Israel’s right to self defense on the number of Jews killed by Hamas—is discriminatory. 

Many Things Can Be True At Once, but Biases Prevail

Many things can be true at once. 

  1. Israel’s decisions to close the Damascus Gate, prioritize honoring soldiers over Muslim prayer, and limit gatherings at Al-Aqsa were provocations that the preceding Palestinian propaganda did not justify.
  2. It was questionable for the IDF to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan. While some agitators were flying Hamas flags and there were legitimate reasons to fear a riot, thousands of innocent worshippers traveled to the mosque to pray and were caught in the crossfire. Though some Palestinians planned to stage an attack from the compound, the IDF didn’t know this at the time of their assault.
  3. Hamas’s response to the siege is also unjustifiable and illustrates their horrific tactics: they target civilians in Israel and they purposefully endanger their residents to manipulate media coverage of Israel. 

But, like with most complex issues involving a long history of morally questionable decisions, people take sides on the conflict according to whatever their predispositions already were.

For many opponents of Israel, Hamas’s rocket barrage is an act of self defense in response to years of Israeli aggression; specifically, the Israeli (and Egyptian) blockade that has crippled Gaza since Hamas’s election to power in 2006. For many supporters of Israel, firing rockets at civilians is not “self defense.” Rather, Israel’s blockade is self-defense against Hamas’s genocidal views.

For many opponents of Israel, the siege of Al-Aqsa and the restrictions on Palestinians that predated it were just the most recent examples of anti-Palestinian discrimination and violence. For many supporters of Israel, the siege of Al-Aqsa was justified since agitators were using it as a staging ground for terrorism and the restrictions on Palestinian gatherings were genuine attempts to prevent the reoccurrence of historic riots and a COVID-19 outbreak. 

For most opponents of Israel, Israel’s very existence as a majority-Jewish state requires displacing Palestinians from their native land, as evidenced by the Sheikh Jarrah case. For most supporters of Israel, the historic capture of Palestinian land simply resulted from Israel exercising its right to conquest in a defensive war; though Israel is a flawed country, it is capable of living up to the principles of equality in its Constitution and accommodating minorities without sacrificing its Jewish heritage.

Bring Back the Two-State Solution

But really, the reasons for this violence just demonstrate that there is fault on both sides. And it’s important to recognize this nuance when considering how to stop similar violence in the future. Taking all of the facts into account, a two-state solution is the only solution.

A single state governed by Hamas or Fatah would result in the widespread persecution, forcible removal, and killing of Jews in Israel, the same crime that Palestinians protest Israel for committing; in effect, a single Palestinian state would deny Israeli Jews their rights to liberty and life. Meanwhile, a single state of Jews in a region of countries that refuse to accommodate the Palestinian population leaves millions trapped in limbo with no clear homeland at best and anti-Palestinian discrimination at worst. Only a two-state solution, in which both parties agree to govern themselves, allows each to live how they want with shared access to important holy sites.

To opponents of Israel who believe that the right to conquest is bunk and Israel’s original sins in the Arab-Israeli war waive its right to exist in the first place, the wagers of the Arab-Israeli war are long dead and current Israeli citizens should not be held responsible—with violence and death—for the actions of their predecessors. It is unclear why one group’s right to return should trump another group’s right to life, especially when opponents of Israel believe it didn’t at the time of Israel’s founding. Put simply, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Further, contrary to Hamas’ claims, Zionism is not inherently “aggressive” and “colonial.” Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, helped draft the founding charter for the Jewish-Ottoman Land Company, a plan for a Jewish state that would not require any forcible population transfers or discrimination to maintain its Jewish identity. But Israel today doesn’t require these evil tactics either. After the Partition Resolution created Israel, Jews constituted a slim majority of its population. Some Jewish leaders worried that their majority wasn’t large enough and wanted to increase Israel’s ratio of Jews to non-Jews. There were two ways to go about this: bring more Jews in by prioritizing Jewish immigration, or push Palestinians out. Israel’s founder, David Ben-Gurion, decided on both—as evidenced by the Law of Return and the expulsion of Palestinians during the Arab-Israeli War—but this didn’t have to be the case. 

If Israel had followed only the first route, it would have reinforced its Judaic identity without any displacement of Palestinians. Historical data shows that within three and a half years of Israel’s founding, hundreds of thousands of Jews immigrated to Israel, effectively doubling its Jewish population. Today, if Israel pulled out of the West Bank and ceased all discriminatory practices, it would easily remain a Jewish State. Ben-Gurion’s decisions don’t represent Zionism as a philosophy and a democratic Jewish state can exist in the Middle East. 

Israel doesn’t waive its right to exist because of its current discrimination either. Many of Israel’s modern practices are disgusting and evil, but enacting change does not necessitate Israel’s obliteration. Nor should change be sought by replacing Israel with a government that’s even more discriminatory (e.g., Hamas). 

There is no country on Earth completely free of discrimination. It is unrealistic to set the bar for a country’s utter destruction at its unjust seizing of private land and discriminatory criminal justice policy. This standard necessitates substantial destruction elsewhere in the world, which no one has seriously considered. It borders on antisemitism to single out Israel—the only Jewish state in the world—for destruction because of its moral crimes while completely ignoring Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, China, and others for theirs. These nations are actually committing the type of genocide that activists frequently accuse Israel of, yet evade criticism from the international community and media.

There is no way to explain why the UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel ninety-four times since 2006, more than six-fold its condemnations of North Korea, other than antisemitism. Human Rights Watch rules North Korea “among the world’s most repressive countries” where the government frequently commits “crimes against humanity, including extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape, and forced abortions,” and “operates secret prison camps where presumed government opponents face torture, forced labor, and starvation.”

Some still justify singling out Israel, pointing to the annual foreign aid ($3.3 billion) it receives from the US. First, US foreign aid does not drive UN decisions. Second, the US also allocates foreign aid to Syria ($653 million), Pakistan ($684 million), Iraq ($960 million), Egypt ($1.5 billion), and Jordan ($1.7 billion), to name a few. The US shelled out more than $5 billion to countries with Islam as their official state religion in 2019 alone, many of which have undemocratic governments that commit atrocities equal to or worse than anti-Palestinian discrimination in Israel. Together, Egypt and Jordan receive nearly the same amount of US foreign aid as Israel; both are guilty of persecuting and forcibly expelling Jews. Egypt also persecutes Christians and criminalizes homosexuality.

And no, it is not whataboutism to point out that the international community singles out Israel. It is simply perspective. Israel’s crimes are wrong no matter what other countries do. 

Finally, Israel does not waive its right to exist simply for being a religious state. Israel’s desire to maintain its Jewish identity is no more problematic than Egypt maintaining its commitment to Islam or America maintaining its philosophical roots in the Enlightenment; renowned Enlightenment thinkers grounded the concept of Human Rights in religious thought.

Unlike race, a genetically-determined trait, Judaism is a belief system and culture with which people can choose to align themselves. And every single nation in the world is founded upon some sort of unifying belief system or culture; the very definition of a nation requires “a sense of affinity to people sharing the territory.” Because Judaism is akin to an ideology that anyone can adopt, Israel recognizes converts to Judaism and provides them similar benefits as non-converts. 

Attempts to preserve ideological principles are morally distinct from attempts to preserve a racial demographic. In the US, we acknowledge this distinction by allowing private companies to fire employees on the basis of their political ideology (but not their race), selecting immigrants according to their knowledge of American government and principles, splitting our government into states to accommodate ideologically-distinct populations, and permitting gerrymandering by party identification (but not race). While the US forbids companies from firing employees because of religion alone, this is to protect people’s right to identify how they want and does not stop employees from being fired for the principles or beliefs associated with their religion. Employers can still fire Christians for believing that gay marriage is wrong.

Of course, preserving ideological unity could never justify denying someone their human or civil rights, but unity is not itself problematic until it crosses this threshold. Therefore, an Israeli immigration policy that prioritizes those attached to the principles of Judaism is perfectly acceptable, just as it is acceptable for US code 8 section 1427 to require that immigrants be “attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States.” However, an Israeli policy that denies voting based on religious identity would be clearly unacceptable.

It’s notable that some groups opposing Israel operate according to its same religious-nationalist philosophy, but in the context of Islam. Hamas, for example, would like to establish an Islamic Republic under Sharia law that “welcomes every Moslem who embraces its faith.” According to Hamas, “in the absence of Islam, strife will be rife, oppression spreads, evil prevails and schisms and wars will break out.” 

Yet, only Israel receives mainstream criticism for being a religious state. Singling out Israel for its religious roots while ignoring Hamas, Fatah, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and all other religious states is often rooted in antisemitism at best and is blatantly antisemitic at worst. 

Creating Peace in the Middle East

Unfortunately, many obstacles block the path towards a two-state solution. One is that the current Palestinian government doesn’t seem interested. 

Fatah, the more moderate party in the Palestinian Authority, has already refused two offers from Israel to establish their own state (in 2000 and 2008). Though Fatah’s official stance on the two-state solution is technically one of support, their actions tell a different story.

To reiterate, only the Palestinian government doesn’t seem interested. Polling data shows that an equal plurality of Israeli Jews and Palestinians support a two-state solution.

Another obstacle is rampant antisemitism among the Palestinian government. Even if the Palestinians could be absorbed into Israel while maintaining its Jewish identity, violence would break out immediately. Hamas calls for killing Jews and engages in antisemitic conspiracy theories. Fatah fails to distinguish between Israeli civilians and soldiers in its frequent propaganda posts encouraging armed resistance against any “occupation” of Palestine. Fatah soldiers report that during combat, “no distinction was made between armed actions on [Israeli] soldiers or on civilians; the main thing was the amount of blood. The aim was to cause as much carnage as possible.” 

Though, the issue is complicated. Israel discriminates against Palestinians to such a degree that Human Rights Watch finds Israel guilty of apartheid (i.e., systematic oppression) and persecution, both crimes against humanity. 

In 1993, Israeli and Palestinian authorities signed on to the Oslo Accords, splitting the West Bank into three areas: Area A, 18 percent of the West Bank where the PA has full authority; Area B, 22 percent of the West Bank where the PA has civil authority and Israel has military authority; and Area C, 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel has full authority. 

In Area C, Israel rejected more than 98.5 percent of Palestinian building permit requests between 2016 and 2018. Then, it approved hundreds of demolitions of Palestinian buildings that lacked construction permits. In the West Bank and Israeli-owned territory, Israel frequently declares privately owned Palestinian land to be “state land,” and then repurposes it for Jewish settlements, evicting the residents. These settlements are usually segregated: Palestinians are not allowed inside. 

On top of this, Israel has a military court system with jurisdiction over the entire West Bank, including Jewish settlements in Area C. In 1980, the Attorney General decided to try Israeli offenders in civil court. As a result, Israel tries West Bank Jewish offenders in an entirely different court system than most Palestinian offenders for identical crimes. In 2010, the Israeli military courts self-reported a 99.74 percent conviction rate.

In East Jerusalem, Israel applies the 1952 Law of Entry to Palestinians, rendering them “permanent residents,” the status given to foreigners who immigrate to Israel, rather than citizens. Since 1967, more than 14,000 Palestinians have had their residencies revoked for failing to prove a “center of life” in Jerusalem, despite having lived there for years.

Still, it’s important to note that charges of “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” are wildly overblown. While the policies above are discriminatory, they impact relatively few Palestinians. 

Together, more than 630,000 Palestinians reside in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank. The average Palestinian household size is around five, suggesting that there are approximately 126,000 households across both regions. In 2020—when there was a spike in demolitions—278 Palestinian homes were demolished, impacting just 0.2 percent of the Palestinian population. Even if we make massive (unjustified) assumptions about the data, like that half of the Palestinian population is homeless, the fraction of Palestinians impacted is still a minuscule 0.4 percent. This inflated estimate is less than half the 2018 eviction rate in New York City.

Likewise, of the 300,000 Palestinians in the West Bank, only about 400 were detained in 2020, a measly 0.13 percent and one-third the chance of police incarcerating a White American the same year. 

Of the 330,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, just forty had their residencies revoked in 2020: 0.01 percent. Put differently, the average American was 18 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than a Palestinian in East Jerusalem was to have their residency revoked. 

Discrimination is not genocide if more than 99 percent of the population is unaffected in a given year. 

In the end, though, for believers in a two-state solution, Israel’s offers were too good to be true. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008, for example, provided Palestinians:

  1. 94 percent of the West Bank for an independent Palestinian state
  2. The evacuation of sparsely populated Israeli settlements totaling nearly 6 percent of Israeli territory
  3. Safe passage between Hamas-controlled Gaza and the West Bank
  4. Palestinian sovereignty over Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem
  5. Joint governance of the Holy Basin in Jerusalem, home to many Jewish, Islamic, and Christian holy sites, by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinian state, Israel, and the United States
  6. Independent law enforcement

The two-state solution proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008.

Israel is guilty of discrimination, but so is its Palestinian opposition. Neither group has any reason to believe the other is operating in good faith. Yet, Israel was willing to try something new. For Palestinian leadership, the only drawback of Israel’s offers was that they involved a two-state solution in the first place; Palestinian leadership rejected each offer, just as they promised to in 1967.

After Olmert’s agreement fell apart, one “senior Palestinian official” even told Israeli media directly that “[PA President] Abbas thought Olmert’s proposals for Jerusalem and the right of return were unacceptable.” Considering that the right of return would effectively replace Israel with a single state governed by the PA—a state bound to persecute Jewish Israelis—this official admitted that the PA rejected Olmert’s agreement explicitly because it offered a two-state solution.

In just the past few months, Israel’s legislative branch, the Knesset, formed a majority coalition that brings together groups from the right, left, and center; the government will need support from the left-wing Labor, Meretz, and Arab Ra’am parties to pass laws, putting Israeli Arabs in an unprecedented position of power. Right-winger Naftali Bennett—whose party won a meager seven of the Knesset’s 120 seats—will fill the role of prime minister for two years before centrist Yair Lapid rotates in. The rise of liberals in government is a significant deviation from the previous center-right coalition dominated by the Likud party and the Blue and White alliance. 

The newfound leverage of left-wing and Arab parties is already impacting Israeli policy: thanks partially to these groups’ swing vote, Israel’s government just struck down a law that many considered discriminatory.

Israel’s willingness to negotiate suggests that, while its discriminatory practices are certainly wrong, they aren’t the primary reason for continued conflict. Instead, Palestinian leadership is likely holding out for a deal that recognizes their right to return over Israel’s right to conquest and Israeli Jews’ rights to liberty and life.

Only international pressure on Palestinian leadership to accept a two-state solution will convince them their current hopes are unattainable and end the violence that erupted following the siege of Al-Aqsa. Of course, the global community should couple this with pressure on Israel to reform its discriminatory policies. We must convince Israel and Palestine to share the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

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