In the latest in a series of pieces they have written together, Rob Malley and Hussein Agha published an op-ed in the New York Times earlier this week titled, "The Two State Solution Won't Solve Anything." The piece has been criticized by various analysts, with some interpreting it as an epitaph for the two-state solution and for the peace process.
I was curious if this is what they intended, so I sent Rob Malley a few questions by email. Below are his responses:
In your recent New York Times op-ed co-authored with Hussein Agha, you write, "It is hard today to imagine a resolution that does not entail two states. But two states may not be a true resolution if the roots of this clash are ignored. The ultimate territorial outcome almost certainly will be found within the borders of 1967. To be sustainable, it will need to grapple with matters left over since 1948." Are you arguing in favor of a one-state solution?
MALLEY: Absolutely not. Our work over the years has consistently been about the two state solution. This article is no exception, as the passages you cite illustrate. Far from arguing against the two-state solution, we are seeking to understand why, despite years of efforts, attempts to achieve it have failed. And we are suggesting that this has less to do with disagreements over the precise territorial boundaries than with something deeper that must be grappled with rather than ignored.
You also conclude that "the heart of the matter is not necessarily how to define a state of Palestine. It is, as in a sense it always has been, how to define the state of Israel." Some analysts have interpreted the op-ed as arguing that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not possible unless Israel loses its Jewish nature. Is that what you are saying?
MALLEY: No. What we are saying is that Israelis insist that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state, that Palestinians insist that the rights of the refugees be respected and that a sustainable outcome somehow will have to take those two views -- shared by vast number on both sides -- into account. Neither of those issues involves the borders of a future Palestinian state or its sovereignty. Israel is a Jewish state and that's a fact.
Some also have interpreted the op-ed as calling for a right of return. Are you saying that?
MALLEY: We are merely restating the fact that Palestinians insist on recognition of the refugees' rights. We are not calling for the right of return. It is not the same thing.
Your article was entitled "The two-state solution won't solve anything". Is that your view?
MALLEY: The title was unfortunate and was not of our choice. A two-state solution would bring the occupation to an end. That would be of huge consequence. The question is whether an end to the occupation on its own will end the conflict once and for all and bring about a lasting, sustainable peace.