President Obama addressed the State Dept. last Thursday, outlining new terms for peace negotiations for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The President proposed a two-state solution with a demilitarized Palestinian state and readjusted Palestinian and Israeli borders aligned with the 1967 boundary agreement prior to the Six-Day War. The proposal would grant the Gaza Strip and West Bank to Palestine with mutually agreed upon land swaps to account for Israeli settlements located in the West Bank.
According to UCSB Hillel Treasurer Danny Fischer, a fourth-year biopsychology major, the new borders would potentially jeopardize the safety of Israeli citizens living in the region.
“I don’t think it’s an option,” Fischer said. “We can’t go back to those borders because there are Israelis living on the Palestinian side and Palestinians living on the Israeli side. It is possible to relocate those people, but that is a potentially dangerous situation.”
Fischer said Palestine should exert autonomy over the land that it already occupies before Israel can consider making any concessions.
“The Palestinians need to get control of the land they already have,” Fischer said. “Particularly, they need to control the Gaza Strip before they can negotiate with Israel.”
According to UCSB Students for Justice in Palestine member Nadim Houssain, a second-year global and religious studies major, the president’s solution displaces millions of Palestinians and denies them the right to populate their homeland.
“Six million Palestinian refugees live within Palestine and throughout the diaspora, and Obama needs to address that as well,” Houssain said. “These people should have the right to return to their land — to Palestine proper, a place they once called home. That is a lot of what the Palestinian struggle is about, and it is something that I would like to see Obama focus on more.”
Additionally, Obama discouraged Palestine from petitioning the United Nations for their right to statehood in September.
However, Houssain said the petition and Obama’s speech’s promotion of two distinct states has become unfeasible.
“My personal view is that a two-state solution is unrealistic,” Houssain said. “I would like Obama to consider a one-state solution — something that is becoming more and more popular. I think it is possible to have Palestinians and Israelis living side-by-side in a democracy, under a secular government.”
Fischer said both sides agree negotiations are necessary to resolve the ongoing issue.
“I think Israel tends to look at this like it is another attempt to redefine the borders,” Fischer said. “It has happened many times; [this is] just another reminder that these negotiations have to happen, so it is good that Obama brought it up because we have to keep it on our minds.”
Houssain said younger generations are more likely to engage in discussion and find a viable solution for both parties.
“I think it is possible to co-exist, but it takes time — the wounds are still fresh,” Houssain said. “It is possible, especially with the new generation. Some of my best friends are Israeli and we are able to sit down and talk about it. We might disagree on things, but we are able to talk about it.”