In a new essay for Jewish Currents, Peter Beinart argues that the two-state idea is dead and that liberal Zionists must now carry the banner of a one-state solution. The article isn’t particularly consequential for its ideas, many of which have long been advanced by Palestinian thinkers (some of whom Beinart credits). While the piece is compellingly written, there is no escaping the fact that part of the reason the piece is trending is who Beinart is.

Beinart was once an outspoken advocate of the two-state solution in the American Jewish community, a belief encapsulated in his 2010 book The Crisis of Zionism. Anyone who has been following Beinart’s work and commentary in recent years will probably know that he has been moving in this direction for some time. Nevertheless, seeing him explicitly renounce two states in favor of a single-state formula is significant.

I’ve never embraced the idea that the two-state solution  (or one state, Jordanian option, confederation, and so on) is dead mostly because you can’t kill something that was never alive. There is no formal peace process today and there has not been one for the better part of the last decade. No iron law dictates when two states cannot be established, nor does any formula prescribe the exact number of settlements that will make a two-state solution impracticable. Annexation will be exceedingly difficult to walk back — this is one of the reasons it is so harmful — but there is no way to state definitively that it cannot be done.

Unsurprisingly, Beinart cites the current drive toward annexation from among a litany of Israeli practices as the catalyst for his change of heart.

To Beinart’s credit, he goes further than many proponents of a one-state model in conceding its flaws, although in many instances he stops halfway in addressing them. Beinart knows, for example, that Islamist Hamas and authoritarian Fatah, the two dominant political forces in the occupied territories, would fit awkwardly into a multiethnic liberal democracy, but he says that one state will provide room for a Palestinian leader with greater moral authority (implicitly Ayman Odeh) to sideline them (how?). This feels like a band-aid response.

I’m not writing this to pick apart Beinart’s article, point-by-point. My colleague Shira Efron and I have written a study, which already examines many similar ideas, and I don’t think Beinart’s essay was intended as a comprehensive policy plan. Instead, I’d like to posit a broader point about non-two-state proposals for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict embodied in the Jewish Currents piece.

There are some who support one state as a corrective to Israel’s establishment as a Jewish state, which they may see as illegitimate. But one state and confederation models (which Beinart notably frames as distinct from two states) largely exist today out of a sense of exhaustion with empty rhetoric about a non-existent peace process, a vacuum currently filled by Israeli and American leaders who are happy to formalize a non-democratic system across Israel and the West Bank.

These “alternative” proposals aim to reconcile the deep flaws in the two-state solution, which presently render it unimplementable, yet in doing so, they create new ones, initiating a cycle of Israeli-Palestinian whack-a-mole. One state passes over the issue of settlements and borders, but it opens up the question of bridging the economic gap (more of a gulf) between Israel and the territories. One state elides the problem of Jerusalem and how to partition the city, but now the issue of dismantling the PA, disarming militias, and merging institutions pops up. The back-and-forth can repeat ad nauseam.

There is nothing wrong with debating whether the benefits of a two-state solution still outweigh the costs and barriers, and annexation means that those discussions can no longer be dismissed as marginal.

The biggest question is how Beinart sees these ideas being imported to Israelis and Palestinians. He admits that both two-state and one-state outcomes are unrealistic today, and that what needs to be considered is which will inspire the greatest number of Israelis and Palestinians. If this is the axis on which Beinart’s argument pivots, then one state is a very curious choice. While younger Palestinians are increasingly disillusioned with two states, it maintains a plurality of support that no other formula approaches in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli Jews are increasingly right-wing and tolerant of the status quo and de jure annexation. Israeli Arabs, including Ayman Odeh, whom Beinart envisions as a central vehicle of support for his one state vision, back two states more enthusiastically than their Jewish neighbors. An aide to a member of Knesset from Odeh’s Hadash party that I met earlier this year reacted negatively to the suggestion that even the pan-Arabist Balad faction does not support the two-state solution.

I understand those who support one state out of principle: a Palestinian-American scholar I consulted during the research for Israel Policy Forum’s study on non-two-state proposals cautioned me to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I also agree with my colleague Ilan Goldenberg, who argued in these pages that one democratic state is the only morally defensible option aside from a two-state solution. But none of this means a one-state vision is near at hand. While Beinart’s essay will likely be remembered as an important contribution to the debate in the American Jewish context, unprovable affirmations of the two-state solution’s death or the viability of a single state remain just that.