The challenge is complex and great, but the stakes are critical for peace and stability in the Middle East. Seven decades after the British Mandate for Palestine came to an end, only a single state exists in its territory—but nothing has been resolved between the two peoples who live there. Forty years after Palestinians formally adopted the two-state solution as a goal, the project appears to have run out of steam—not because Israeli or Palestinian societies as a whole have rejected the idea, but because most Israelis and Palestinians no longer believe it is possible.
Indeed, although recent polling suggests that both publics are divided on the desirability of a two-state solution, both have become increasingly pessimistic about whether the other side will accept it, even more pessimistic about whether it is feasible, and simply gloomy about whether it will happen any time soon. And the Palestinian leadership is split between those who never supported it and those who have lost any idea of how to pursue it. In the region, emerging generations are coming into political maturity with a two-state peace process that is little more than a historical memory.
Among Palestinians, the new generation is already shifting focus from Palestinian statehood to rights. Moreover, U. This diplomacy, whether intended or not, will likely underline the impossibility of a two-state solution and accelerate thinking among Palestinians and Israelis about situations in which a single sovereign entity controls the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Parties on both sides—such as Hamas, and many Israeli nationalist and religious rightist supporters—dream of a single state in which the other side is utterly defeated or dominated. Such options would only perpetuate the conflict and likely increase the cost in human lives. But there are also efforts to think about single-state alternatives that might be more peacefully achieved and less likely to lead to permanent conflict.
In , the territory of historic Palestine was divided after a war between Arab states and Israel. Three-quarters of the land became the state of Israel. A narrow coastal strip, centered around the city of Gaza, was governed by Egypt. In , however, after a second war with Arab states, Israel gained control of the West Bank and Gaza territories as well. The idea of settling the conflict with a two-state solution—transforming the West Bank and Gaza into a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel—gradually gained ground among some of the adversaries, and was officially adopted by the Palestinian National Congress in In , the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships began a process of negotiations that produced a set of agreements in collectively called the Oslo Accords.
These agreements allowed the construction of a Palestinian Authority PA to govern Palestinians in the territories that Israel had occupied in Israeli and Palestinian leaderships seemed to be moving toward a two-state solution in practice, even if Israel and the United States declined to commit to the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Since , the international community has increasingly embraced the two-state solution, and plans such as former U. Important leaders and even popular majorities in Palestinian and Israel societies came to support the project, although significant minorities on each side objected to it. Nonetheless, three decades of diplomacy to secure a two-state solution have failed, leaving behind ever-expanding Israeli settlements, a divided Palestinian polity, and a host of supposedly interim arrangements that have become entrenched and stagnant.
Indeed, political realities seem to be eliminating the possibility of Palestinian statehood alongside Israel. Perhaps more critical, the two-state goal now attracts little interest or hope in either Israeli or Palestinian society. As the two-state solution has faded, it is all the more necessary to recognize that a single state actually exists in the contested territory right now and controls both its security and much of the economy: the state of Israel.
Although this current single-state reality is undeniable, can that necessity be turned into a virtue? That is, can one state be transformed from its position of indefinite and conflict-laden domination into a solution that meets the needs of Israelis and Palestinians? There are strong reasons to be skeptical. Yet proposals and criticisms of a one-state solution should be discussed openly and fully. Or rather, such discussions—which have been occurring—should be made more visible and receive more attention. International actors have avoided such discussions for understandable reasons.
Previously, many of those who said the two-state solution was dead were the same as those who had opposed it in the first place, so taking a one-state solution seriously seemed to be tantamount to embracing them.
But rejectionists are no longer the only people interested in alternatives. In private discussions, even senior officials of countries that support two-state diplomacy have inched in the direction of accepting that the peace process is not leading anywhere. Observers familiar with the situation on the ground began speaking of the demise of the two-state solution years ago. International reluctance to discuss alternatives to the two-state solution is less a refusal to recognize the trends that have undermined it and more a fear of abetting those trends. Open embrace of an alternative approach threatens to legitimate Israeli settlement activity, acquiesce in the Israeli annexation of Jerusalem and perhaps parts of the West Bank, abandon the tremendous international investment in the PA, and encourage rejectionist actors including Hamas on the Palestinian side.
Those are powerful reasons, but the silence is more damaging than has been realized. The pretense that a two-state solution is viable is masking the very realities that have undermined it. Futile two-state diplomacy saps the energy from any effort to confront those trends, even as their long-term effects become more pernicious. Settlement expansion has made it difficult to find a way to separate the two societies, and yet simultaneously it fails to provide them with any way to live together.
Indeed, the logic of separation—the guiding principle of the two-state solution—ignores how the two communities are intertwined. Besides the settler population, large numbers of Palestinians live in Israel. The societies, economies, and even basic infrastructure are intermeshed. Even when the Oslo process was working, there was a real tradeoff between prosperity and sovereignty for any Palestinian entity; with the deterioration of the Oslo arrangements, Palestinian leaders have largely abandoned partial economic separation from Israel for now.
The Israeli leadership , for that matter, has never pursued any logic of economic separation. To be sure, groups on both sides of the conflict have always regarded the two-state solution as inappropriate for core national needs or goals. On the Israeli side, much opposition to a Palestinian state stemmed from concern about its implications for Israeli security, but some was ideological as well, resisting the idea that parts of the land of Israel would be excluded from the control of a Jewish state. On the Palestinian side, the opposition stressed the truncated nature of the state was developing for a time.
And even when it seemed viable, two-state diplomacy had trouble addressing the Palestinian diaspora and risked leaving many individuals permanently stateless, yet still very much present in the Palestinian national identity. A shift to an integrative approach, or a one-state solution, may bring in those who have worked to undermine past efforts—a step that offers both new opportunities but also real risks.
It treats the territory as a unit and attempts to deal with the problem as it originated—namely, in , with the denial of Palestinian nationalist aspirations and the eviction of many Palestinians from their homes, rather than in when Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza. In many ways, the Palestinian discussion on alternatives is more wide ranging than that found in Israel.
This is not surprising, since existing arrangements are more tolerable for Israelis than Palestinians. Thus, the Israeli leadership has accepted the status quo and failed to articulate a meaningful alternative to the two-state solution, even as it moves to undermine it. It has not explained how it proposes to keep Israel Jewish and democratic in the absence of a two-state solution—because it is under no pressure to do so. The shift to thinking about a one-state solution, with its many varieties, does not mean that a formula has been found that satisfies both Palestinians and Israelis.
All variations have their real contributions in peace, justice, and security to offer—and equally real threats of undermining all those goals. But they are hard to assess as long as the argument remains largely abstract. One-state proposals hardly approach the level of detail that developed when the two sides were negotiating borders and security arrangements in Oslo and in other discussions.
Realities on the ground will probably push one-state alternatives to take center stage as an acceptable two-state solution appears less viable over time. Proponents will therefore have to develop more detailed ideas. The novelty of the one-state idea is not the only reason for a lack of detailed thinking. In fact, the proposal is actually an old one, recurring over time in different guises. It appeared as far back as the s, advanced by the Jewish Brit Shalom organization, and was embraced in a different form by the Palestine Liberation Organization founded in in the late s and through the s and into the s.
Some leading Israeli politicians, like former defense minister Moshe Arens and current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, have presented ideas that lead in a one-state direction, even as others have shied away from the term or declined to grapple with the details. Moving beyond a two-state framework is often propounded by people who are politically at odds. But it may be time for them to stop talking past each other. Indeed, these discussions have grown more frequent and more detailed in both Palestinian and Israeli societies.
There also have been some discussions between members of the two camps in quieter track 2 efforts. Instead, the diplomatic efforts of the s have decayed into social, political, and occasionally violent conflicts, played out at checkpoints, international academic meetings, the Gaza fence, college campuses, social media, and international organizations. A one-state outcome imposed by either side annexation of the West Bank and Gaza; definitive military defeat of Israel is no solution.
And even Hamas may be backing away from that plan by leaning toward the idea of a separate Palestinian state even as it insists that it has not accepted Israel. Many on the Israeli right seek to encourage greater domestic and international acceptance of the current one-state reality but in a manner that alienates rather than incorporates most Palestinians.
And the continuing one-state reality may be more likely but does not offer much of a solution. Scenarios that offer a two-tiered citizenship approach, where Palestinians have less than full political rights in what is basically an apartheid system, will not be considered; again, this is not a real solution.
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So variations of a one-state outcome that accord similar rights to both communities are worth considering. For some , the most just outcome would be a single, unified state with equal rights of citizenship for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. It is a mark of how deeply entrenched other identities are that such a proposal seems radical. Who could object to such a liberal utopia? The model may address individual rights, but it is based on the denial of collective rights, which both sides hold to tenaciously. It does not allow either community to fulfill its national aspirations and express its identity in an undiluted form, effectively marginalizing the strong sense of nationalism among both communities.
This model also sets off different fears in each camp. Demographic trends suggest that the model would threaten Jewish nationalism, and most Israelis likely would not accept such a call for equality, seeing in it an equivalent to the demise of their current state. Many Palestinians who have struggled for so long to build a national movement and to steer that movement toward realistic options fear that pursuit of a one-state goal would legalize Israeli settlements and weaken the diplomatic gains that the Palestinians have fought for over several decades.
A second model is for a single state that recognizes both individual and collective rights. It would preserve individual rights for all but also give some firm institutional expression to collective rights for each community. In some forms, this model resembles the previous one. In general, the calls for binationalism come from those who are less enamored of nationalism even within their own camp but are willing to make concessions to it, although the concessions are rarely specified beyond the symbolic. In binational schemes, the two groups would share the land and some accoutrements of joint statehood but remain nationally separate.
Zionism could be maintained in some form; the country could still be regarded as a national home for the Jewish people, but it would also be a home for the Palestinian nation and could no longer be a solely Jewish state. Palestinians would be able to inscribe their identity within the contours of a unified state, not only at the central level but also through decentralization. Despite its guarantee of national rights, this model would not only involve Israelis disengaging from many of the instruments of statehood that mainstream Zionist movements have called for since the late mandate era; it also would mean a partial Palestinian disengagement from the demand for a Palestinian state, a movement that is just as old if not older.
In this regard, Palestinians have begun that mental shift, but there are few signs that Israelis have done so. Moreover, the relationship between individual and national rights would have to be defined in such a manner that both national leaderships felt they could trust. There are few positive examples to emulate that have been stable over the long run. The United Nations committee that recommended partition in included a minority report that suggested a binational, federated state. It would transform the dispute between Jews and Palestinians as national entities into a constitutional one about the relative authority of the central government and of the two constituent parts.
But it thus carries the risk of simply shifting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to one occurring within the boundaries of a state without resolving or even managing it. The approach also risks abandoning Jews and Palestinians who live on the wrong side of the settled borders. One possible alternative is a more complex federal system that has not two units, but many. This model has the advantage of allowing the diversity of each side fuller expression. In a sense, Palestinians already have this reality imposed on them by the restrictions on movement among autonomous areas.
It would be beneficial to have an arrangement that was not based on Israeli imposition but rather one that had a common set of rights and central institutions yet still allowed local autonomy to communities. Again, however, a workable solution would depend on devising guarantees that require trust from societies where mistrust is profoundly deep. And there are few successful models of sustained federations formed by such devolution—federations are more commonly formed by smaller units coming together than by centralized units being divided.
It is difficult to imagine the Israeli security establishment somehow being transformed into a body under the management of a mixed Jewish-Palestinian society or to envision the Israeli Defense Forces folding in Palestinian units on an equal basis.
Thus, the idea was not fully developed. But more ambitious visions have emerged since. Some of the most imaginative are based on the argument that Westphalian sovereignty is anachronistic and inappropriate, at least as it came to be associated with national states. Based as it is on an assumption of territorial integrity and homogeneity of people, it can be criticized as incongruent with Israel and Palestinian realities. Under such models, the entire land of historic Palestine again becomes one where Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs both claim the whole land as theirs.
The Parallel States Project, led by former ambassador Mathias Mossberg at Lund University, has advanced one such proposal, attracting contributions from a variety of experts , including some Palestinians and Israelis. The two states would retain their separate identities, national symbols and political structures. But they would be distinguished by their lack of internal borders, allowing free movement and access to land, resources and economic opportunity for the citizens of both states.
What such models boast in imagination, they can lack in practical details—though the Lund project tried to overcome this by providing ideas about how both internal and external security could be arranged through multiple forces. Even then, the approaches do not persuade the critics. But such details generally do not emerge except when Israelis, Palestinians, and critics are directly engaged. When the ideas are ignored or dismissed as utopian, they tend to remain maddeningly vague.
For those who do not subscribe to any of these alternatives, there are, of course, other options. There is, for instance, an indefinite prolongation of the status quo, its evolution into apartheid-like arrangements, or forced expulsions. The West Bank could be delivered back to Jordan and Gaza to Egypt, though it is difficult to imagine either country accepting such a delivery. Regardless, none of these other options is a genuine solution: they simply continue the conflict in a way that is not only unjust but unrealistic and, if pursued over the long term, likely unstable.
They should be mentioned, however, to warn about existing trends and what ideas they may offer if more attractive ones are not developed. Most recently, the Syrian conflict has shown that previously unimaginable scenarios can arise with fearsome speed under the stress of brutal realities. The death of two-state diplomacy has triggered a range of alternatives, none of which is ideal. Many have argued that the two-state solution will materialize because all the other options are either impracticable or worse.
In that way, perhaps the only remaining argument for the two-state solution is that these other solutions are worse. Yet even if this were true, wishing for the best option does not necessarily mean it will happen. Can the alternatives discussed here be made more practicable to answer the critics? As is clear from a review of these options, each one has not only serious gaps but also provokes serious suspicions on one side or the other, and often both. Any solution that impinges either on the Palestinian or Israeli national identities, questions a national claim to absolute sovereignty, or undermines control over parts of the land runs the risk of implacable objection.
All ideas on the table lack critical details. They are better seen as general visions of alternative outcomes than as detailed blueprints. The details emerge not from the dreams of visionaries but from the back-and-forth of debate and the involvement of those on the ground. In short, their vagueness will end only when they are taken seriously by otherwise adversarial actors. That process is only beginning. But even more than such vagueness and opposition, the various one-state scenarios run aground on the absence of any process that would bring them about. In other words, the most profound problem with each one is not how it would work, but whether there is any way to bring it about.
But the obstacles might seem less formidable if the exclusion of one-state options from international discussions were relaxed. Indeed, whereas the two-state model has been negotiated in minute details, allowing a clear picture of its features to emerge, no such picture or set of pictures exists for a one-state solution. Even though discussions have taken place in all sorts of public and private forums, most of the debate has occurred within each national camp. No idea has acquired a critical mass among both communities to allow for compromises or detailed articulations of a particular model.
Of course, all conceptions are utopian if they are devised only by small groups with agendas are not shared by important actors. He wants to marry him and we love ourselves. Please i need advice thank you. Hey Mike, and other readers, I am simply commenting to say thank you very much for this post and the amount of clarification you provide for those who comment.
I am going through a situation now, just graduated, wanting to live together with my girlfriend, all that. And though I intend to marry, we are not yet married. Awesome David, thank you so much for reading and for the encouragement! I broke this rule now live in eternal damnation.
I really hate myself because God is the only good thing in my life, now He is going to leave too. Thanks I really needed this. I wish there was a better way. Be encouraged to not give up pursuing The Lord, even when you are struggling. I think if you desire to have a relationship with God and you know of these in your life that are wrong like you mentioned, then I would change up your situation and make some big changes in your life. Any advice would be appreciated. Well this is a bit of a unique situation I met my girlfriend in the same house I lived in, let me explain we were students and moved into a commune we didnt know each other before hand but became best friends and close from Day 1 then two weeks later we were dating.
Hey Nick, thanks for sharing and appreciate you reading the post. That was a great first step. Sleeping in the same bed and being that close to each other is a benefit of marriage in my opinion and not something to do in dating. She is a believer in Christ. She sees red flags with the way her boyfriend disciplines her two boys. And a few other things about him bother her. I asked if she ever thought about asking him to move out.
She owns her own house. Hey Ana, great questions and thanks for sharing. Especially if Christ going to be first in her life. Everything comes back to that.
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Are the decisions she is making more concerned with glorifying God or something else? I got saved 8 years ago, after having children with the father of my kids. God honors marriage, and I want to be married. The father of my kids is not a believer. In all my years serving the Lord, he has yet been convicted by the Holy Spirit. I want out of this relationship so badly, but am riddled with guilt if I walk away. Hey Christina, First off thank you for sharing and being vulnerable. If you are stuck in a relationship where either the boyfriend or girlfriend DO NOT get along with your children then you need to end that relationship.
End it fast. What about the Samaritan Woman at the well? Jesus did not recognize her as being married to the guy she was living with! She realized it was a Sin when he pointed that out! Just Saying!!! I myself have a Question of my own. Hey Payton thanks for reading and great question. My boyfriend and I have already comitted sexual sin, and as a result, we are having a baby.
We know God forgives, and we have talked about stopping the sex until we would be married. But not sure we are quite ready for marriage yet though. I cannot imagine not living together once the baby is born. It just seems like it would complicate things tremendously. Hey Nancy, thanks for sharing. The difficult thing about this and we know this as followers of Jesus…when we make decisions that are outside of the way God has designed things, we often find trouble with them and complications are the result of many of those decisions. Thanks for sharing Emily. The difficult part for the Christian I think is that we are called to live to a higher standard of living than the world.
Everyone including them and you guys would play a role in the sin and would be held accountable. So given that this is just a matter of interpreting vague scripture, that is, this is the opinion of a man, and given that this nowhere says anything about living together married or not, I take it as a matter of personal conviction. I lived with my wife before marriage and it helped us grow together and adapt to each other.
Our marriage was by the county clerk too, which the Bible does not actually say is recognized by God. Show me a verse in the Bible where it specificically says not to live with a female before marriage all this article did was prove that sex before marriage is a sin but when it came to living to get her you provided no scripture to back your statement you did for everything g else but that all that is is a just an opinion.
For example however it may sound silly, does the Bible say not to drive on the wrong side of the road? Hi Cody, If you want your answer accurate and precise is best you seek them from the lord, he will surely convey his message through his disciples or through your conscious — a mind which is designed to his likeness. I also told this person that there is no mention of homosexuals not marrying in the Bible either, but once again, if you have his Spirit and know his nature and character you know that this is not pleasing to God either.
It takes the holy ghost of our Lord Jesus, and the father to reveal this principles to us as he sets such examples by his teachings and doctrines. Its best to examine the gospel clearly and the letters of the apostles who experienced the physical Jesus and spirit.
Follow these examples and let them rectify us to see the standards of God in clear form of his divine image. Additionally, for both men and women to cohabit together in harmony, the lord always directed this context to marriage. Hello Mike, I was wondering if you could please help my boyfriend with this topic. Maybe over E-Mail?
Sure thing Kayla, no problem! Have him email me at mike beforethecross. Thanks so much!! Would you be willing to mentor him over email? Sure thing, that would be awesome! Thanks for reaching out! Mike, Apologies. I had to start a new thread since there wasnt enough room. To recap, I asked that if a couple lived together before marriage and stayed pure meaning no fornication then married did they sin?
I asked that you answer this with scripture. You responded that you believe they should not move in. I know you believe that. However, lets just say that they did, and did fornicate, then married. So… in short, living with a member of the opposite sex is not a sin. You will never find that in the bible. It just looks bad amongst other belivers. I meant to post this here. I assure you, I read through your post again and came to the same conclusion: based on what you have posted here, there is no scriptural evidence that the act of a man and woman living together is a sin in the eyes of almighty God.
While you have given plenty of scriptural evidence for why it appears so in the eyes of men. We are called and encouraged to flee from fornication. I assume this is why you simply suggested that couples not live together. Thanks for that, Mike, I think you misunderstand my statement.
There was no statement made insinuating remotely that man has anything to prove to God. This is not scriptural. However, it gives me insight to how easy it is for misinterpretation to lead to false conclusion. The God we serve is a deliberate God. He makes his intention for what he wants his children to not do very clear. Thanks again for sharing Lee. So to answer your final question…I still believe that those two people should not move in.
Thank you. However, you did not answer my question. The context given is that they did move in, stayed pure and married. Did they sin? Use scripture. Lee, you are trying to use scripture to justify what you are doing. The scripture you are asking Mike to show you is already there — you just have to choose whether or not you want to obey it.
Thanks Pat. No need to be rude. Context is important. Thanks, Bukky. I Appreciate the response. You make a great point. We have to be careful with what we interpret as a commandment. You are sincerely welcome. You have a brilliant mind, Christ led by the Holy Ghost who is grace to all men that follows the wisdom of God rather the foolishness of the world. Marriage is always a joint relationship between husband, wife, and God.
Pray that God would allow you to put the marriage above any individual concerns.
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Ask God to guide you in how he wants the funds earned, used, and distributed. Plead with God to give you the necessary strength to release control of your money and give God control. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James NIV.
Marriage is an amalgamation of all the pieces of life. The husband and the wife lose their individual identity and become one. This includes finances. Every dollar brought into the home is a dollar that belongs to the home. Every dollar that goes out the door is a dollar that the household spent. Erase all notions of individual finances.
Forget about who bought what. From now on we are in this financial situation together.
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We have an equal responsibility and an equal opportunity. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis NIV. This goal setting is not just about finances, but it is about all things in life. Where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? What do you want people to say about your life accomplishments? In 10 years? In 15 years? If a husband and a wife have separate goals it will be nearly impossible to have financial intimacy in marriage. Matthew NIV. Since there is a union between husband and wife it is essential that couples combine bank accounts and all other financial items.
It is difficult, but possible, to function financially with separate bank accounts. However, what do you seek for in your marriage? I do not believe a marriage can thrive until there is intimacy on all levels. This involves combining all financial resources. Some couples think that the one who earns the money spends the money or dictates how it ought to be spent. Instead, you should respect your unique contributions to the home.
Our family has made the decision that my wife will stay home and raise our children. She is well educated and easily marketable in the professional world, but we made a choice, and we each make a contribution to the decisions we made. Money management takes time, energy, knowledge, and wisdom. One of the common complaints about the modern family is the burden of so many responsibilities and commitments. This makes its way into the home as couples are forced to decide who will take care of the different tasks related to personal finances. When you have defined your goals you now have a broad or general direction that you would like to follow in your lives.
In addition, you have figured out the financial implications of those goals. If you have first agreed on your long term goals your dollars should more easily fall into a natural pattern for short term usage. The budget represents the small goals you meet along the way to achieving your ultimate goals. Once the budget is set it is important that you track your progress. The best way is to meet together regularly.
Imagine if Junior got sick and I bought a bunch of medication. My spouse needs to know that happened because we may need to adjust another budget item to make the budget work. Here is what my wife and I do. Every Monday night is budget night. After the kids go to bed we sit down at the dinning room table together.
We take all the receipts we collected from the previous week. She reads them and I type them into our budget program. We then take a quick look over the budget to be sure the dollars we allocated to each category still seems sufficient. If we have overspent on a category we take the money from somewhere else in the budget.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.