A resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not look promising, though it is still possible. The window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing, and conversation is shifting to consider the meaning of an emerging one-state reality. Though polls show that both Israelis and Palestinians still favor a two-state solution, facts on the ground and politics are allowing the status-quo to take root, and the status-quo supports a one-state reality. This will be good for no one!
The two articles below spell out in detail how time is running out, and describe the dynamics now operating in and around this conflict. They are both worth reading.
The Palestinians are trapped by their own politics in refusing to sit down with Israeli negotiators thus suggesting that their motivation is to wait and let events and demography undermine Israel as a democratic Jewish state.
Israel is trapped by the most extreme right-wing government in its history that gives lip-service to the two-state solution while at the same time developing policies and facts on the ground that undermine the path to a two-state solution.
The United States is distracted by our presidential campaign, and nothing of significance is expected until after the election, if at all. Both political parties and candidates are striving to show that they are the most “pro-Israel” thus playing to the most extremist and fundamentalist forces in American and Israeli politics.
The relative calm out of Gaza and the West Bank, due to the exhaustion of the Palestinian population to violence, the positive effects of the Israeli security fence in stemming terrorist attack against Israeli civilians inside Israel, and the intensified security cooperation between Fatah and Israel in the West Bank, give the illusion to Israelis that the status-quo is not so bad after all.
Israeli and international pre-occupation with the Iranian nuclear threat has distracted America’s and the Quartet’s attention away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As time passes the dozens of small illegal Jewish “outposts” that dot the landscape of the West Bank are solidifying and a significant portion of the settler population is becoming more radicalized thus making the peaceful emergence of a contiguous Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state of Israel difficult to imagine.
Many moderate Palestinian and non-violent two-state advocates have come to the conclusion that a one-state reality with a one-person, one-vote democracy represents the best way for Palestinians to get their Palestinian state on the one hand and to undermine the Jewish state of Israel on the other. For Jews, a one-state eventuality either means the end of the Jewish state or the end of a democratic Israel.
Analyzing the Problem
The articles below describe and analyze the various alternatives:
Sit and Wait;
Transitional arrangement towards a two-state final status solution;
The Jordanian solution;
The conclusion to the article written from an Israeli perspective published in the New York Times (“Israel-Palestine: Policy Alternatives given the Infeasibility of Reaching a Final Status Agreement”) is:
“The Israeli interest dictates operating in two parallel yet at the same time integrated, complementary main policy efforts. The first is to strive energetically to an agreed solution, even partial or gradual, with the Palestinians, based on the two states principle. The second one is to initiate policies and actions that will create a reality of two states for two peoples. We recommend making progress along these two parallel tracks, in agreement and coordination with the Palestinians if and when possible, and unilaterally, based on an Israeli independent decision.”
The conclusion of the second piece by Khalil Shikaki, a moderate Palestinian analyst, published by the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center (NOREF) (“The future of Israel-Palestine: a one-state reality in the making” – May 2012), states in its Executive Summary:
“With no agreement on a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in sight, one-state dynamics are gaining momentum – a development that will be difficult to reverse or even contain. In the medium and long term, no one will benefit from such a development. Indeed, all might lose: an ugly one-state dynamic has no happy ending, and such a solution is rejected by Palestinians and Israelis alike. Instead, the emerging one-state reality increases the potential for various kinds of conflicts and contradictory impulses. The international community too finds itself unprepared and perhaps unwilling to confront this emerging reality, but in doing so it imperils the prospects for peace in the region – the exact thing it seeks to promote.”
After the American presidential election it will be necessary for the United States to move forward with a muscular diplomatic effort to bring all parties to the table and settle this conflict once and for all before it is too late.