Israeli and Palestinian leaders, together with the international community, have endorsed the idea that the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved by way of a two-state outcome. But such an outcome has eluded negotiators, creating the impression that it is becoming ever more distant. Pundits increasingly talk of a “closing window” and an “urgency” of achieving two states before it is “too late.” But on what basis?
The Two-State Index (TSI) assesses the state of the two-state solution. Examining more than 50 different parameters, the TSI organizes and systematizes the latest developments in your Israeli-Palestinian newsfeed, and determines whether they create progress toward or regress away from a two state outcome. Ultimately, the TSI produces a coherent assessment of the plight of the two-state option.
As we launch the index in early May 2018, its score is 5.60 on a 0-10 scale. Although not strictly-speaking a scientific tool, the TSI offers a fact-based, data-driven, wide-angle lens on the pursuit of two states: where there is greatest progress or regression, and what stakeholders should focus on. Produced by the Israeli-Palestinian teams of the Geneva Initiative, it reflects a uniquely bilateral and nuanced understanding of current political reality. The TSI relies primarily on public sources and third-party research, as well as expert analysis. At times, TSI editors will commission original research on issues that are not regularly covered.
In order to create an index, a baseline set of assumptions must be established:
International law, the statements of global leaders and institutions, and the records of previous negotiations all reflect a significant consensus regarding the parameters of a two-state solution and therefore provide a robust yardstick against which to measure progress or regression.
The TSI does not necessarily adhere to the Geneva Initiative model peace agreement published in 2003. But the body of official and non-official work accumulated over the past two decades — UN resolutions, Quartet statements, EU decisions, US policy statements (notably the 2000 Clinton parameters and the 2014 Kerry Initiative), the records of previous negotiating rounds, and informal model agreements such as the 2003 Geneva Initiative, a set of International Crisis Group proposals, the 2010 Baker Institute territorial report, etc. — produce a clear picture on final status issues. These parameters form the basis of what the TSI is testing. Notably, the consensus on what constitutes reasonable parameters may change over time. This will be considered as the TSI progresses.
The TSI consists of four layers:
Each arena, category, and parameter is attributed a weight and a score.
For example, an uptick of 1 point, from 3 to 4, in the Israeli Prime Minister parameter — which has a maximal weight of 5 — translates into upward movement of 0.38 points in the Leadership category, which also has a maximal weight of 5. It then translates into 0.18 points in the Political and Public Arena, which has a weight of 4. Ultimately, the total TSI score moves 0.05 points for every point the important parameter of the Israeli Prime Minister gains. Consequently, should the Israeli prime minister wholeheartedly adopt the two-state solution as Israel’s existential need and pursue it vigorously, leading us to change its score, say, from 3 to 9 — the overall TSI score would jump 0.33 points.
The starting point of the TSI is that the realization of a two-state solution depends on certain conditions. As noted above, the TSI is divided into four arenas, each of which is then divided into categories and specific parameters.
Creating the index and evaluating the parameters inevitably requires judgment calls — some of which will be more controversial than others. It is, for instance, hard to argue that a reluctant leader of one or both sides does not place a strain on the prospects for two states. Other indicators required greater explanation. How are security and violence to be measured? The case can and has been made, for example, that Palestinian resistance on the ground is more effective at delivering Israeli concessions in the direction of two states. Others argue that a quieter security environment is more conducive for progress. As a matter of principle, the Geneva Initiative does not support violence. Our analysis, however, will evaluate each security development on a case-by-case basis.
The score we attribute to each parameter is ultimately a subjective decision of our editors. These scores, however, reflect their best judgment, based on numerous conversations held with an array of experts in the relevant fields. We appreciate that on many of these value judgements alternative hypotheses can be offered, and we welcome your feedback.