Statement by National Security Leaders on an Israeli-Palestinian Two-State Solution and U.S. Policy USMEP | March 2nd 2018

For three decades, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization have stated their readiness to negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the goal of achieving the two-state outcome. The United States has also accepted this goal and has played a role in trying to achieve that outcome. Unfortunately, every effort has descended into mutual recrimination and the possibility of a two-state peace has slipped further away.

Given the degree of disruption and destabilization in the Middle East during this new century, it is important to remember that a sustainable and mutually dignified resolution of the Israel-Palestine issue—ending the occupation that began in 1967 and providing security to two states, Israel and Palestine —remains a core U.S. national interest.

It is not and never has been a panacea for all the region's woes. Addressing legitimate Palestinian grievances, and America's role in their prolongation, is however crucial to the goal of de-radicalization, denying oxygen to extremists, and resetting America's standing and relationships.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, February 20, affirmed the Palestinian commitment to a peaceful negotiated path to two states in line with parameters consistent with UN Resolutions and commonly accepted by the international community and previous U.S. administrations:

  • Two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, with borders to be negotiated on the basis of the 4 June 1967 line with equal and minimal land swaps agreed between the two parties.
  • Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and Palestine, in the west and the east of the city respectively, an open city for the faithful of the three monotheistic religions.
  • Ensuring the security of the two states consistent with their respective sovereignty and supported by a third-party security mechanism.
  • A solution for the Palestinian refugees agreed to by the two parties.

Abbas called for the convening of an international peace conference by mid-2018 with the participation of the parties themselves, the International Quartet, as well as the permanent members of the Security Council and regional stakeholders, creating a multilateral mechanism to assist the Israelis and Palestinians in negotiations, and to realize the Arab Peace Initiative and conclude a regional peace based on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement consistent with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

These are reasonable terms on the basis of which peace negotiations can be launched. We call on Israel and the United States to respond positively.

The Palestinian leadership has reiterated its commitment to a non-violent path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue. Having articulated principles for a peaceful settlement, Palestinian leaders must also demonstrate this commitment in words and deeds and desist from using unhelpful and strident language.

The U.S. Administration should support and actively engage in a return to negotiations based on these parameters, ending its equivocation regarding the two-state option.

If the Administration rejects two states and these reasonable parameters, then other members of the Quartet, of the Security Council and International Community should move forward with parameters and a mechanism to re-focus efforts on an early return to the two-state solution.

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Nicholas Burns, former Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to NATO

William J. Burns, former Deputy Secretary of State

William S. Cohen, former Secretary of Defense

Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Defense and United States Senator

Lee H. Hamilton, former Chair of the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees

Gary Hart, United States Senator (Ret.)

Rita E. Hauser, former Member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board

Carla A. Hills, former United States Trade Representative and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Daniel C. Kurtzer, former United States Ambassador to Egypt and Israel

Richard G. Lugar, former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Anne W. Patterson, former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and former United States Ambassador to Egypt

Thomas R. Pickering, former Under-Secretary of State and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Adviser

Henry Siegman, President Emeritus and Founder of the U.S./Middle East Project

Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell

Frank G. Wisner, former United States Ambassador to India