Direct, bilateral talks are the only means for the realization of a two-state solution. A Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) will represent a Palestinian rejection of direct negotiations with the State of Israel, and will not bring about a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict nor satisfy Palestinian nationalist aspirations.
Indeed, unilateral action by the Palestinians will effectively end the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It would violate signed agreements with Israel, in particular the 1995 Interim Agreement which states that “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations.” It should be noted that the United States, the European Union, Russia, Egypt and Norway are signatories to this agreement.
In addition, the negotiated land-for-peace framework has been accepted by the international community since the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 in 1967. Since the 1990’s, Israel and the Palestinians have actively engaged in direct negotiation based on reaching an agreement based on land-for-peace. This aggressive unilateral action will violate the letter and spirit of this internationally-embraced fundamental principle.
Finally, a UDI will not provide Palestinians with a viable and sovereign state, and it will fail to meet the expectations of average Palestinians. At best, a UDI will create a Palestinian state with non-contiguous borders on less than 40% of the territory of the West Bank (what might happen in Gaza remains to be seen). No provisions will be in place for Palestinian access to water, electricity, the road network and telecommunications which are managed by and in Israel. Moreover, core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remain unresolved and festering, including final borders, refugees and Jerusalem. Such a makeshift and ill-functioning state could foster widespread dissatisfaction and frustration among Palestinians.
A UDI will create a Palestinian state born in confrontation, not cooperation, with the State of Israel. Israel will have no choice but to view this entity with (at the very least) suspicion and wariness. Given the atmosphere of non-cooperation, it is unrealistic to assume that negotiations on outstanding issues, such as final borders, refugees, Jerusalem and settlements, can easily be resumed following a unilateral declaration of statehood, and a new era of hostility will likely begin.