Middle East conflict between Israelis and Palestinians: does the two-state solution still have a chance?

There are no more peace negotiations, Israel is taking tough military action against the Palestinians. Is there still a chance for the two-state solution, which the federal government is also sticking to?

The two-state solution can only be implemented in theory

Muriel Assenburg is a senior fellow in the Africa and Middle East research group at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin.

Theoretically, a two-state arrangement could still be implemented. But the hurdles are high: the current Israeli government seeks Jewish dominance throughout the territory and permanent control of the West Bank. She would like to push the settlement policy further.

The Palestinian Authority is sticking to the two-state approach. However, it no longer has access to the Gaza Strip and lacks the support of its own population. It has also lost control of cities in the northern West Bank in recent months. It would hardly be able to make compromises – if there were an offer to negotiate – let alone implement an agreement.

In addition, the population has increasingly turned away from a two-state arrangement: only a third supports it. An overwhelming majority of both population groups (93 percent), on the other hand, see themselves as the rightful owners of the entire country. A consolidation of the one-state reality with unequal rights for its two populations can thus be expected. At the same time, the risk of an armed escalation is extremely high.

We’re talking about a ghost

Omri Boehm is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. In his book “Israel – Eine Utopia”, published in 2020, he designed a model for the coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians.

The two-state solution is not dead. It is a specter: a being that is no longer alive but refuses to go away. The reason two states cannot come about is not the number of settlers but the number of Palestinians in the area being divided into two states.

The Palestinians are the majority, but even the most “generous” two-state offers give them sovereignty over only 22 percent of the country. Such a rotten compromise cannot bring peace. Also, about 700,000 Jewish settlers live in this area, the vast majority of whom would not leave the areas.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has long promoted the one-state policy; and the current coalition makes no secret of its agenda. This is also the main reason why the power of the Supreme Court — which, despite its questionable interpretation of international law, has so far prevented worse crimes against the Palestinians — is to be broken with the new “reforms”.

The death of the two-state solution thus also destroys the country’s internal democratic institutions: the West Bank will not be annexed to Israel, as some have predicted – rather, Israel will be annexed to the West Bank in terms of political practice and dealings with the Palestinians. There are alternatives to the two-state policy in the form of federal constellations. But the Israeli left and the international community have failed to make it viable. If we continue to cling to the two-state specter, the scenario now unfolding in Israel will become irreversible.

Europe should get the political vision

Carsten Ovens is Managing Director of ELNET Deutschland eV, a think tank dealing with German-Israeli relations and the fight against anti-Semitism.

For years, the EU has carried the mantra of the two-state solution in front of it – and has always found to its frustration that fewer and fewer people are interested on the ground. Hardly anyone in Israel wants to take the political risk anymore.

On the Palestinian side, the question arises as to who could negotiate at all. The terrorist organization Hamas, which aims to destroy Israel, rules the Gaza Strip. The 87-year-old Mahmoud Abbas has governed the West Bank since 2009 without democratic legitimacy.

Nevertheless, Europe should be given the political vision of a two-state solution to be negotiated locally. The Abraham Agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain gives hope. The most important initiative in decades promises more stability for the region.

Europe should seize the opportunity and work together with the Arab states to first improve the economic situation in the Palestinian territories in order to remove the breeding ground for hatred and terror. In this way, the basis for a new peace process can be laid.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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