Why the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is dead and buried

Why the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is dead and buried
Why the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is dead and buried
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*Baconi is the author of “Hamas Contained” and chairman of the board of al-Shabaka, the Palestine Policy Network

After 176 days, the attack of Israel The Gaza did not stop and expanded to what the Human Rights Watch declared a policy of hunger as a weapon of war. More than 32,000 Palestinians were killed, and the international community once again called for a two-state solution, in which Palestinians and Israelis can coexist in peace and security. The President of the USA, Joe Bideneven declared that “the only real solution is a two-state solution” in his State of the Union address last month.

But the appeal rings hollow. The language surrounding the two-state solution has lost all meaning. Over the years, I have encountered many Western diplomats who privately roll their eyes at the two-state prospect – given Israel’s staunch opposition to it, the West’s lack of interest in putting enough pressure on Israel to change its behavior and Palestinian political ossification – even as its politicians repeat the same phrase ad nauseam. However, in the shadow of International Court of Justice said that it could be a plausible genocide, everyone returned to the chorus, emphasizing that the gravity of the situation means that this time it will be different.

Will not be. The repetition of the two-state solution mantra has allowed policymakers to avoid facing the reality that partition is unattainable in the case of Israel and Palestine, and illegitimate as an arrangement originally imposed on the Palestinians without their consent in 1947.

Image from 1993 shows then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin (left) and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (right) with US President Bill Clinton at the Oslo Accords. Negotiations raised hopes for two states, but failed Photograph: David Ake/AFP

And, fundamentally, the concept of the two-state solution has evolved to become a central pillar supporting Palestinian subjugation and Israeli impunity. The idea of ​​two states as a path to justice alone has normalized the daily violence exercised against Palestinians by Israel’s apartheid regime.

The circumstances Palestinians faced before October 7, 2023 exemplified how deadly the status quo had become. In 2022, Israeli violence killed at least 34 Palestinian children in West Bankthe highest number of deaths in 15 years, and by mid-2023, that rate was on track to exceed those levels.

Still, the Biden administration has seen fit to further legitimize Israel by expanding its diplomatic relations in the region and rewarding it with a U.S. visa waiver. Palestine was practically absent from the international agenda. The fact that Israel and its allies were ill-prepared for any kind of challenge to Israeli rule highlights how invisible the Palestinians were and how sustainable their oppression was considered on the global stage.

This moment of historical rupture offers bloody proof that the policies adopted so far have failed, but countries are seeking to resurrect them anyway. Instead of taking steps that demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace — such as significantly pressuring Israel to end settlement construction and lifting the blockade of Gaza or halting widespread military support from the United States — Washington is doing the opposite. You U.S have aggressively used their veto in United Nations Security Council and even when they abstain, as happened in the recent vote that led to the first ceasefire resolution since October 7, they maintain that these resolutions are not binding.

The United States is funding its military and at the same time defunding the UN Relief and Works Agency, an essential institution for the Palestinians, supporting the deeply unpopular and illegitimate Palestinian Authority, which many Palestinians now consider a subcontractor to the occupation of Israel, and subverting international law by limiting Israel’s avenues for accountability. In fact, these actions protect Israeli impunity.

The vacuum of the two-state solution mantra is most obvious in how often policymakers talk about recognizing a Palestinian state without discussing ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Quite the opposite: with the United States reportedly exploring initiatives to recognize Palestinian statehood, it is simultaneously defending Israel’s prolonged occupation at the International Court of Justice, arguing that Israel faces “very real security needs” that justify its continued control. over the Palestinian territories.

What could explain this apparent contradiction?

Image from March shows US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, after the Security Council approved the first ceasefire resolution for the Gaza Strip. US vetoed three resolutions before abstaining and allowing passage Photograph: Sarah Yenesel / EFE

The concept of partition has long been used as a blunt political tool by colonial powers to manage the affairs of their colonies, and Palestine was no exception. The Zionist movement emerged in the era of European colonialism and received its most important endorsement from the British Empire. The Balfour Declaration, issued by the British in 1917, called for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine without adequately taking into account the Palestinians who constituted the vast majority in the region and whom Balfour referred to simply as “non-Jewish communities.” .

This declaration was then imposed on the Palestinians, who in 1922 had become colonized subjects of the UK and were not asked to give consent to the division of their homeland. Three decades later, the United Nations institutionalized the division with the approval of the 1947 plan, which provided for the division of Palestine into two independent states, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish.

All of Palestine’s neighboring countries in the Middle East and North Africa that had gained independence from their colonial rulers and joined the UN voted against the 1947 plan. The Palestinians were not formally considered in a vote that many considered illegitimate; she divided their homeland to accommodate Zionist immigration, which they resisted from the beginning.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, created more than a decade later, formalized this opposition, insisting that Palestine, as defined within the borders that existed during the British Mandate, was “an indivisible territorial unit”; she vehemently refused two states and by the late 1970s was fighting for a secular, democratic state. However, in the 1980s, PLO Chairman Yaser Arafat, along with most of the organization’s leadership, came to accept that division was the pragmatic choice, and many Palestinians, who until then had been crushed by the machinery of occupation, they accepted it as a way to separate themselves from the Israeli settlers and create their own state.

It took more than three decades for the Palestinians to understand that separation would never happen, that the objective of this policy was to maintain the illusion of division indefinitely in the distant future. In this twilight zone, Israel’s expansionist violence increased and became more direct, as Israeli leaders became bolder in their commitment to full control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

A woman holds a sign that says ‘Free Palestine’ at a pro-Palestine protest in Seoul, South Korea, in an image from March. Two-state solution returned to debate after October 7 attacks Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP

Israel also depended on discredited Palestinian leaders to maintain its control – particularly those who lead the Palestinian Authority and who collaborate with Israel’s machinations, and are content with non-sovereign, non-contiguous bantustans that never challenge Israel’s overarching rule. This type of demographic engineering, which involves the geographic isolation of unwanted populations behind walls, is fundamental to apartheid regimes. Repeating the two-state aspiration and arguing that partition remains viable presents Israel as a Jewish, democratic state – separate from its occupation – giving it a palatable veneer and obfuscating the reality that it governs more non-Jews than Jews.

Viewed this way, the failed attempts at a two-state solution are not a failure for Israel, but a resounding success, as they strengthened Israel’s control over this territory while peace negotiations ebbed and flowed but were never concluded. In recent years, international and Israeli human rights organizations have recognized what Palestinians have long argued: that Israel is a perpetrator of apartheid. B’Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights organization, concluded that Israel is a unique regime of Jewish supremacy from the river to the sea.

Now, with international attention once again focused on the region, many Palestinians understand the dangers of discussing partition, even as a pragmatic option. Many refuse to resurrect this empty political discourse. In a message recently published anonymously, a group of Palestinians from Gaza and the diaspora state wrote: “The division of Palestine is nothing more than a legitimization of Zionism, a betrayal of our people and the final conclusion of the Nakba,” or catastrophe, which refers to the expulsion and flight of about 750,000 Palestinians with the founding of Israel. “Our liberation can only be achieved through a unity of struggle, built on the unity of the people and the unity of the land.”

For them, the Palestinian state that their inept leaders continue to sell, even if possible, would not be able to undo the fact that Palestinian refugees cannot return to their homes, now in Israel, and that Palestinian citizens of Israel would continue to reside as second-class citizens within the so-called Jewish State.

Global powers may choose to ignore this sentiment as unrealistic, if they take notice at all. They may also choose to ignore Israel’s rejection of a two-state solution, as Israeli leaders abandon any pretensions and explicitly oppose any path to the formation of a Palestinian state. Recently, in January, the Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel “must have security control over all territory west of the Jordan River.” He added: “This clashes with the idea of ​​sovereignty. What can we do?”

And yet the two-state solution remains at the forefront of policymakers who have once again distorted the reality of an expansionist regime into a policy recipe they can cling to. They make a cycle of provisions according to which the Palestinian State must be demilitarized, that Israel will maintain security oversight, that not all States in the world have the same level of sovereignty. It is like watching a century of failures, which culminated in the train wreck of the peace process, repeat itself over the past five months.

This will not be the first time that Palestinian demands have not been taken into account when it comes to their own future. But all policymakers must heed the lesson of the October 7 terrorist attack: there will be no peace or justice as long as the Palestinians are subjugated behind walls and under Israeli rule.

A single state from river to sea may seem unrealistic or fanciful, or a recipe for more bloodshed. But that’s the only state that exists in the real world, not in policymakers’ fantasies. The question, then, is: how can it be transformed into a just state?

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: twostate solution Israel Palestine dead buried

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