In the past week, Tablet Magazine has published two pieces embracing one state for Israelis and Palestinians as an inevitable outcome, even if it is not the most desirable. The skepticism the authors, Shaul Magid and Professor Sari Nusseibeh, express about a two-state solution is well placed. Israel’s creeping annexation of West Bank territory has long been underway, and with the Trump plan, more far-reaching moves now feel imminent regardless of who comes out on in Israel’s political deadlock. Yet each only addresses the obstacles to two states, and it bears considering whether one state is any less utopian.

Nussseibeh and Magid rest their cases on two traps. The first is assuming that an outcome that appears far off today is inherently impossible. The second is assuming that if a two-state solution is not viable today, a one-state outcome is more likely or achievable, even if it is not necessarily the most desirable.

Today, Israel is indeed the ultimate sovereign from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The Israeli government is uninterested in a two-state solution, settlement construction is on the rise and in places that fundamentally destroy any sense of Palestinian contiguity. The Palestinian leadership appears unwilling or incapable of making any compromises, and the West Bank and Gaza are divided between different governing authorities. However, this does not ipso facto create a one-state reality; what exists in between is not the foundation for a one-state solution but an ossified interim arrangement.

Despite being ultimately subservient to Israel, almost all Palestinians’ day-to-day needs are attended to by the quasi-state Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or the de facto Hamas regime in Gaza. Despite the rapid pace of settlement construction, nearly 80% of Israelis living over the Green Line are on only 4% of the territory, land envisioned as part of a fair and equal land swap in any permanent status agreement between the two sides. Despite the stagnant leadership on both sides, changes on each side may in time lead to a breakthrough. After all, months before Anwar Sadat traveled to Jerusalem to address the Knesset, nobody would have predicted Israeli-Egyptian peace, as nobody would have predicted before the 1991 Madrid conference that Israel would recognize and negotiate with the PLO. If there is any lesson to be learned from the modern history of the Middle East, it is that everything is inevitable until it isn’t.

Beyond the question of whether one state is inevitable, Magid and Nusseibeh do not grapple with what a single state would actually look like. In fact, for all of the talk that the obstacles to two states make it no longer feasible, any one-state variation is less feasible still. The economic, security, and political hurdles that stand in the face of a one-state outcome make it more of a wish than any hurdles that prevent separation into two states.

For instance, although they are deeply intertwined, the Israeli and Palestinian economies are still separated by a wide chasm: Israel’s GDP per capita is $40,000, the Palestinian West Bank’s is about $1,400, and Gaza’s is $900. There is no integrating these two societies: unifying Germany, for example, has proven troublesome enough when eastern and western portions were separated by just a few thousand dollars in per capita GDP and that was under the best possible political conditions, without the nationalistic, linguistic, and religious divides separating Israelis and Palestinians.

Nusseibeh contends that the status quo will lead Israeli Jews and Palestinians (both citizens of Israel and those living in the occupied territories) to become increasingly politically integrated, and that ultimately “an altogether new citizen might be born.” Nothing today or in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict suggests this would be the case. Jewish Israelis remain deeply divided on most issues, as the country’s protracted political paralysis reminds us, but the country’s Jewish majority is united in a near-consensus commitment to Zionism, even at the expense of its democracy. Few would countenance a situation in which Hamas, Fatah, and Likud all compete in a single national election, and the alternative to that is a non-democratic state. Israeli Arabs also support a two-state solution in even greater numbers than their Jewish neighbors, albeit for different reasons. Among Palestinians support for two states is waning, especially with the younger generation, but no other option has achieved a critical mass of support.

True, a one-state outcome obviates the imperative to address certain thorny issues. Settlements need not be evacuated. Jerusalem can remain united. Yet in seemingly closing the lid on these sources of disagreement, a one-state approach opens the door to new ones. What happens when an issue like the right of return of refugees is brought to the floor of a unified Israeli-Palestinian parliament? How would a coalition government that could possibly include actors like Hamas be trusted to be responsible custodians for Israel’s nuclear arsenal? And if that one state is not a democracy, how will its relationship with the United States fare?

Declarations of the two-state solution’s demise look increasingly appealing today. The release of the Trump plan, with its expansive annexation provisions, compounds problems emanating from a rising pro-annexation tide in Israel and a static Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. But there are no iron laws dictating when an idea is alive or dead, and the two-state solution is just that. Magid himself concedes that the two-state solution has never really been tried, and this is reason enough for cautious optimism. The two-state solution as generally understood today has only been official American policy for twenty years, and little of that time has been spent on any kind of formal negotiation process.

Yet while Magid and Nusseibeh’s arguments may not all be sound, supporters of a two-state solution need to understand that the present discussion around one binational or democratic state derives from an understandable sense of exhaustion. I recently co-authored a study with Dr. Shira Efron, “In Search of a Viable Option,” evaluating seven potential outcomes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During our research, we frequently heard from supporters of one democratic state that they knew their ideas were non starters today, but that over the course of the next several generations, their philosophy would begin to take hold. This same outlook is evident in Professor Nusseibeh’s essay: he frames the move to a one-state outcome in decades, not in days, weeks, or months. “It is not far-fetched,” he writes, “to foresee a deconstruction of this body-politic [Israel] at least beginning to make itself felt within the next 30 years.”

It is far too early to simply dismiss Magid and Nusseibeh’s long view of the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of hand, but I am certain that the one-state framework they are promoting in Tablet’s pages has not been subject to the same kind of scrutiny they rightly apply to the two-state solution. And giving up now cedes ground, literally and figuratively, to an expansionist agenda.