For decades now, the international community has been fostering the two-state solution as the only plausible response to the long lasting Palestinian – Israeli conflict and the only possible way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This means concretely two separate states, alongside one another on the land between the western bank of the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. Broadly this territory would be divided along the pre-1967 armistice line and Jerusalem would be shared. All past negotiation rounds have so far failed to deliver progress and there are presently no fresh ones in view . Talks have stalled since the United States mediation failed in the spring of 2014.
Notwithstanding the central question of Israel’s insistence on being recognized as a “ Jewish state” despite the fact that one fifth of its population are Palestinian, and the political split on the matter between the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and leaving aside all other complicated and overlapping issues, the fundamental set of questions at stake are borders, Jerusalem, refugees .
The dividing border along the green line would leave the Palestinians with much less than a quarter of the disputed land; and even this has been substantially infringed upon by Jewish settlements over the past 50 years. Time has run out and the unceasing settlement expansion has already swallowed up too much land, making any future Palestinian state smaller and broken up into noncontiguous pieces.
Israel absolutely reject any deal on the division of the city of Jerusalem between the two sides, while the Palestinians will not cede their holy sites, located in East Jerusalem, on the Palestinian side of the green line. The five million Palestinians expelled during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war claim an inalienable right to return to their homes, but too many returnees pose a threat to Israel in demographic terms. Besides, it does not even recognize responsibility for their departure.
These issues, besides security, have been the most challenging to the belligerent parties and are in fact mutually exclusive ; each one of which consists of a whole set of bedrock demands on both sides. What makes any potential deal even more complicated is the political breach between Fatah and Hamas ; the two main Palestinian factions, the impotence of the Palestinian Authority, the hollowness of the Arab and Islamic Organizations, the acquiescence of the neighboring countries in the region and reluctance of the international governance bodies, and the chronic hesitation of the main peace talks brokers.
Amman Declaration following the 28th Arab summit held at the Dead Sea in Jordan last March reiterated the unified Arab support for the Palestinian cause, urging all member countries not to relocate their embassies in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or even recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Yet, this is precisely what the American President did during his two days visit to Israel, when he pledged to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which signals that the US administration considers the city , undivided, to be Israel’s “eternal capital”. Donald Trump expressed his satisfaction with the Muslim world leaders in Saudi Arabia and said that he had felt strongly that the Arabs would love to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. The Arabs have common cause with Israel in the threat posed by Iran.
Indeed Israel has been seeking to ally Sunni Arab Nations to mutually counter the threat of Shiite Iran, and thus subordinating the Palestinian conflict. The status quo, as a matter of fact, suits Israel. The Palestinian Authority is doing the job of keeping the population under control, and doing it well, even contributing to the cost through the financial aids it receives from outside, while Israel is succeeding in taxing Hamas and other opposing Palestinian groups with terrorism, and slowly but surely adjoining more land with the unchanging vision of the historical Israel that extends from the river to the sea.
This is why Benyamin Netanyahu was irritated at President François Hollande who hosted an international meeting of foreign ministers to re-launch the peace process in the Middle East, which the Israeli Prime minister described as a tricked scheme and refused to attend. On the other hand, he was pleased when he was invited to take part in the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of mass deportation of Jews to Nazi concentration and death camps in 1942, for which President Emmanuel Macron reiterated France acknowledgment of responsibility in the crime against Jews perpetrated by the French police under the commands of the German occupation authorities. He was equally pleased with the French president reaffirming the attachment of France to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, Settling the conflict with the Palestinian is Israel existential need. For it to survive according to the two core elements of its identity both as a Jewish and democratic state depends on a two state solution.
Two weeks before, President Macron received Mahmoud Abbas in Paris and reassured him on France’s commitment to the two-state solution and its condemnation of settlements in the Palestinian territories, the two conventional positions of French diplomacy concerning the conflict in the Middle east.
A growing chorus of Palestinians and Israelis, turning the focus more to civil rights campaigns, advocate a one bi-national state, but this would mean the end of the vision of the Jewish homeland and thus utterly unacceptable to the global Jews . The Israeli hard right is pushing for an outright annexation of the West Bank, keeping the Palestinian population under military rule, or pushing it out into neighboring Arab countries, particularly into Jordan, which Israel considers to be historically a Palestinian country in which seventy per cent of the population is actually Palestinian. Israel argues that even the West Bank was only cut off the historical Jewish Land, and therefore the Palestinians have no historical right for an independent state in Judea.
What alternatives are there? Inasmuch as a single bi-national state is out of the question, unless Israel is willing to concede on either the Jewish or the democratic core components of its identity, which is hardly imaginable, the two-state solution is the only presumable solution. But, in the pursuit of fulfilling God’s promise to the people of Israel, granting the establishment of a foreign race on the the biblical land amounts to no less than a divine abomination. On the other hand, the neighboring Arab countries do not in fact wish to have a Palestinian state on their borders even though they publicly voice their support high and loud.
The unfolding prospects concur to insinuate that another unsuspected scheme is shaping in the area. Egypt handed the small islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir, over to Saudi Arabia despite virulent public outcry. Such transfer would eventually serve the interests of Israel . Egypt is intensifying the siege on Gaza strip, and while advocating a military approach to combat terrorism in the region, it is launching aggressive campaigns in the Sinai Peninsula where allegedly terrorist groups train and launch attacks against Israel and Egypt, thus systematically depopulating the zone of its poor Bedouin tribes. Time will tell.