Forgive me for giving such an important topic terse treatment. But despite all the hopium and now Biden Administration misdirection, there will not be a two-state solution in Israel. Israel has created facts on the ground that make it impossible, namely settler balkanization of the West Bank. And now a devastated Gaza, even assuming Palestinians survive in meaningful numbers, will require state support to rebuild. That state will be Israel, perhaps with some financial support from the US and EU. It is not hard to foresee that any of what is left of Gaza that is allotted to the Palestinians will be kept at the barely habitable level, so as to encourage them to expatriate.
But back to the bigger picture. Some commentators point out that Israel never intended to end its occupation of Palestinian territory. For instance, from Aljazeera in 2017:
Following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, a resolution called on Israel to give up the territories it occupied in exchange for a lasting peace with its neighbours.
Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, resulting in the Palestinian “Naksa”, or setback, in June 1967.
In that year, Israel expelled some 430,000 Palestinians from their homes. The Naksa was perceived as an extension of the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, which accompanied the founding of the state of Israel.
In a matter of six days, Israel seized the remainder of historic Palestine, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Later that year, Israel annexed East Jerusalem as well.
Apart from the Sinai Peninsula, all the other territories remain occupied to this day.
Under the sponsorship of the British ambassador to the UN at the time, Resolution 242 aimed to implement a “just and lasting peace in the Middle East” region…
However, the resolution was used by Israel to continue its occupation of the territories, as it also called for “achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem” while falling short of addressing the Palestinian people’s right to statehood, analysts note…
But in the US-based Journal of Palestine Studies, lawyer and Georgetown University professor Noura Erekat wrote that Israel has used Resolution 242 to justify the seizure of Palestinian land.
“When Israel declared its establishment in May 1948, it denied that Arab Palestinians had a similar right to statehood as the Jews because the Arab countries had rejected the Partition Plan,” Erekat wrote, referencing UN Resolution 181.
The final language of Resolution 242 did not correct the failure to realise Palestinian self-determination, referring merely to the “refugee problem”, she added.
“Following the 1967 war, Israel argued that given the sovereign void in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip the territories were neither occupied nor not occupied,” Erekat said, noting that Israel used this argument “to steadily grab Palestinian land without absorbing the Palestinians on the land”.
To simplify what could be a much longer account, the Oslo Accords, an attempt to bring about a two-state solution, failed due to the inability to resolve key points of difference. A recent (but pre-October 7) Aljazzera article contends the deal was a bust only from the Palestinian vantage:
The second part of the accords were signed in 1995, with the aim of kick-starting talks with a two-state solution as the objective; specifically an independent Palestinian state through the establishment of an interim Palestinian government – the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The accords set the framework for Palestinian elections, and the PA was given a five-year lifespan. But the provisional government still exists today, plagued by allegations of corruption and police brutality.
Despite being granted limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank, Israel has maintained military control over the entire area…
To Palestinian leaders, the accords were doomed to fail.
Major sticking points were left unresolved at the time of the signing of the accords. These included concerns about territory, illegal Jewish settlements, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and the right of return.
Among other things, they also introduced the controversial security coordination between Israel and the PA.
But to Israel, the accords were not a failure, Osamah Khalil, professor of US and Middle East history at Syracuse University, said.
“Israel had no intention of agreeing to the emergence of a viable, contiguous, and independent Palestinian state,” Khalil told Al Jazeera.
“Israel was able to pursue its occupation and settlement policies with the political cover of endless negotiations,” he said.
Alaa Tartir, director of SIPRI’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, agreed. He said the accords offered Israel an internationally sponsored framework to “sustain its occupation and solidify its colonial control over Palestine and the Palestinian people” over the past 30 years.
Of course, deals are only as good as the parties who sign them. Yitzhak Rabin, who is often depicted as wanting to reach some sort of accommodation with the Palestinians, was assassinated in November 1995.
In 1996, the normally Israel-protective Clinton Administration rebuked Israel for its settlements policy. From the Washington Post:
President Clinton criticized Israel yesterday for creating an obstacle to peace with its new campaign to encourage Jewish settlement in the West Bank, and accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government of trying to unilaterally resolve an issue that Israel had earlier agreed to settle in talks with the Palestinians…
The criticism from Clinton — known here and in the region as a steadfast backer of Israel — came on the same day several former U.S. secretaries of state, national security advisers and Middle East negotiators, using considerably more blunt language, wrote Netanyahu that expanding the settlements “would be strongly counterproductive” and “could halt progress made by the peace process over the last two decades.”…
Asked if he considered new settlements an “obstacle to peace,” Clinton responded: “Absolutely.”
In 2011, a different Clinton criticized the continued expansion of the settlements in harsher terms. From ABC:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Israeli settlements “illegitimate” shortly before the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning continued Israeli settlement expansion as illegal.
In an exclusive interview with “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour taped on Friday afternoon, Clinton said, “I think it is absolutely clear to say, number one, that it’s been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate and it is the continuing goal and highest priority of the Obama administration to keep working toward a two-state solution with both Israelis and Palestinians….
In December 2010, Clinton took a similarly harsh line against continued Israeli settlements.
“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity,” she said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. “We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel’s future itself.”
So why did the US veto a resolution that was in line with Clinton’s criticisms? The excuse from UN representative Susan Rice was that it could poison negotiations. But the real reason seems to be that Clinton was not driving this bus. In one of the recent Judge Napolitano shows (I can’t recall if the interviewee was Alastair Crooke or Larry Johnson), the guest stated that Hillary Clinton, in a visit to Israel, told Netanyahu that the settlements had to stop, but when she got home, Joe Biden went to Obama to get her overruled.
Now in the wake of October 7 and the unification of sentiment in Israel against Palestinians, a two-state solution is simply na ga happen. Having the US, Egypt, and Qatar talk up a peace scheme that includes a two-state solution as a major component is an insult to intelligence, like the Collective West coming up with Ukraine peace plans they dreamed up in a vacuum, with no consideration of what Russia would accept.
But on top of that, even before October 7, the Palestinians had also soured on the idea. From The Strategist:
On the Palestinian side, long before 7 October it was evident the paradigm of Palestinian politics had shifted. Support for a two-state approach has collapsed.
Fatah, self-indulgent, corrupt and unwilling to do the hard yards of election campaigning, lost to Hamas in Gaza in 2006. It was crushed by Hamas when it attempted a coup in 2007.
Meanwhile, Israeli intransigence; settler violence in the West Bank; the loss of political authority on the part of Mahmoud Abbas; the contempt of Palestinians for the role played by the PA in meeting Israel’s security demands and destructive military and settler incursions; US promotion of normalisation between Israel and Persian Gulf Arab states, without addressing the Palestinian issue as an essential part of that process; and the emergence of West Bank urban militant groups defying the PA all combined to deadly effect.
And finally, let us turn to the ultimate obstacle, the fact on the ground of settler extreme balkanization of the West Bank. On top of settler occupation of much of the land, many of the roads are reserved for Israeli use, and Palestinians often have to take roundabout routes to get from Point A to B, as well as go through many checkpoints. The only way to create even some decent-sized chuck of contiguous Palestinian land would be through a reverse Nakba. And that simply will not occur.
Alastair Crooke describes how Israel has chosen to keep the Palestinians in an ambiguous, but of course second-class, position (emphasis original):
Even in 2008, Foreign Minister (and lawyer), Tzipi Livni, was spelling outwhy “Israel’s only answer (to the issue of how to maintain Zionism) was to keep the State’s borders undefined – whilst holding on to scarce water and land resources – leaving Palestinians in a state of permanent uncertainty, dependent on Israeli goodwill”.
And I noted in a separate piece:
Livni was saying that she wanted Israel to be a Zionist state – based on the Law of Return and open to any Jew. However, to secure such a state in a country with very limited territory – means that land and water must be kept under Jewish control, with differential rights for Jews and non-Jews – rights that affect everything, from housing and access to land, to jobs, subsidies, marriages and migration.
A two-state solution inherently therefore, did not solve the problem of how to maintain Zionism; rather, it compounded it. The inevitable demand for full equal rights for Palestinians would bring the end of Jewish ‘special rights’, and of Zionism itself, Livni argued – a threat with which most Zionists concur.
Sharon’s answer to this ultimate paradox, however, was different:
Sharon had an alternative plan for managing a large non-Jewish ‘out-group’, physically present within a Zionist State of differentiated rights. Sharon’s alternative amounted to frustrating a two-state solution within fixed borders…
Sharon envisaged the depth of the West Bank in its entirety as one extensive, permeable and temporary ‘frontier’. This approach could thus disregard any thin-nibbed pencil line, drawn to denote some political border. This framework was intended to leave Palestinians in a state of permanent uncertainty, caught within a matrix of interlocking settlements, and subject to Israeli military intervention at Israel’s sole discretion.
Crooke also developed these ideas in his Judge Napolitano interview on Monday. But he added some critical detail, particularly starting at 18:50: “Where are the two states going to be?” Continuing:
According to the Security Council resolution, it [the Palestinian state] includes all the West Bank and Gaza. Well, what are you going to do about the West Bank? I’ve already, you know that is peopled by nearly 800,000 settlers now who are armed and zealous, have absolutely no intention, whatever any government says, of abandoning. These are fanatics. I’ve been to them. I’ve spoken to them. They are really radical people. Even the Israeli Army, and look at the Israeli Army in the West Bank. It’s basically a reservists army, but also it is a settler army. Most of these people, when I was in Israel, I saw the big transformation of the Israeli Army into becoming a settler army. It used to be managed and led by the kibbutznik, the people who lived in the kibbutz, but then it changed and the settlers took command over the main points of this army.
So you’re not going to be able to use the Israelis to remove them. Who’s going to remove nearly a million Israelis from West Bank? There’s no discussion that is serious about these things. New fabulist sort of ideas that people are using just to manage the problem. We can’t solve it so we come up and we’ll say, “Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states will do this,” and the other things when they know that’s not going to work, it’s impossible to work.
In other words, shorter Crooke is that failure to admit how intractable the Israel/Palestine problem is allows Israelis to continue to use ambiguity and misdirection to the disadvantage and now physical destruction of Palestine and its people.