The Biden administration should also consider new ideas. One approach would be for American diplomats to take tangible steps to “improve the freedom, prosperity and security of all people living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River” while trying to preserve the possibility of a Palestinian state — a proposal outlined in a report by the Center for a New American Security.
Adopting this model would require American diplomats to speak out against restrictions on trade and freedom of movement for Palestinians and to advocate reducing the disparities in treatment of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The secretary of state, Antony Blinken, appears to be leaning in this direction, writing on Twitter that “Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity,” echoing language in that report.
Many Palestinians, as well as progressives in the United States and Israel, favor a second model, which would shift American policy in the region away from a nearly exclusive focus on obtaining Palestinian statehood and on Israel’s security to the protection of human rights. A number of analysts have floated this idea over the years, most recently in a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the US/Middle East Project.
In an ideal scenario, the rights-based approach, as it is often referred to, would lead to the preservation of rights of Jewish Israelis — to life, to security, to their religious traditions and to the idea of a Jewish homeland — and address the rights of Palestinians to life, security, political representation, freedom of movement, freedom to work and to citizenship in a country that values them.
Many young Palestinians say their parents’ dream of an independent state has morphed into a struggle for civil rights within the borders of land that Israel has controlled since 1967. But there are some who believe in the two-state solution that this editorial board has long advocated and argue that the rights-based approach is a strategy to get Israel’s government to grapple with what a one-state reality would really mean, which might motivate them to get back to the bargaining table to establish a Palestinian state.
A cease-fire should be celebrated. But when the guns fall silent, the hard work of forging a more lasting peace needs to begin. If it does not, it’s only a matter of time before more innocent lives are lost again.