It is time Israel, the West admit the two-state solution is dead

A recent survey shows that even Western and Israeli pundits know two states in Palestine are impossible.

Haidar Eid

This article originally appeared in Al Jazeera

In August, the influential US magazine Foreign Affairs carried out a survey on the two-state solution in Palestine among “authorities with specialized expertise together with leading generalists in the field”. It asked the question “is the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict no longer viable?” to which the 64 experts were supposed to indicate their agreement or disagreement and explain their stance with a brief comment.

Half disagreed that the two-state solution is dead, seven were neutral and 25 agreed with the premise.

Some of those who disagreed are currently or previously involved with Zionist-leaning think-tanks, such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Among them is former US ambassador to apartheid Israel, Martin Indyk, who before starting his diplomatic career, served as a deputy research director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The list also includes Dennis Ross and others who were heavily involved in the so-called “peace process”, an unending affair with the aim of securing the Israeli apartheid state and liquidating basic Palestinian rights altogether. Obviously, those who were part of the “peace process” are still clinging to the illusion that it is possible to establish a Palestinian Bantustan.

Those who defended the two-state solution acknowledged that there are “barriers” to its fulfilment; among those, the most frequently cited one was the “lack of political will” on “both sides”. There were even suggestions that the Palestinian leadership is solely to blame, as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority lack support from the Palestinian people to make the necessary sacrifices and accept Israel’s apartheid and settler-colonial policies.

Interestingly, some of those who adopted the “neutral” position preferred to take a postmodern, relativist stand on an issue that is one of freedom, equality and justice – no more, no less. Others adopted a human rights approach to the Palestinian question, refusing to take a political stance.

What being “neutral” on a clear-cut question of justice means can be anyone’s guess. Just a few decades ago, who would have dared to be “neutral” about the end of apartheid in South Africa?

In general, most of the supporters of the two-state solution in academia, foreign policy circles and beyond are Israeli, American or European who do not see anything wrong with a settler-colonial project. The few Palestinians who are in favour of this racist approach to the Palestinian question fail to acknowledge facts on the ground: the system between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is a one-state reality, an apartheid state where one community has all the privileges of citizenship, while the other community is deprived of its fundamental human rights.

It is rather hard not to notice the racism and injustice involved in the apartheid reality in Palestine where the Palestinians who suffer are not only the ones who live in the 1967 occupied territories, as the Foreign Affairs question implies.

I, myself, took part in the survey believing that it was important to make my voice as a Palestinian heard. Here is what I had to say in the limited space provided:

“In addition to the fact that Israel has taken irreversible steps that have made this solution impossible – namely, the expansion of the Jewish-only settlements; the annexation of more West Bank lands in addition to Jerusalem; the construction of the apartheid wall that separates Palestinian from Palestinian; the blockade of the Gaza Strip; and the passing of the racist Nation-State Law by the Knesset – the two-state solution in principle does not offer the Palestinian people their basic rights under international law – equality and right of return. A Bantustan-like solution is a racist solution par excellence.”

For such an influential American journal to raise such a question about the two-state reality in Palestine and make sure that there are some Palestinian voices among the respondents is very indicative of the power of the Palestinians to make their voices heard in the heart of empire. It is also revealing of the fact that the international discourse on Palestine is slowly but surely moving away from talk about the “peace process” and the “intransigence” of the Palestinian leadership.

This is clearly annoying American and Israeli Zionists, with one survey respondent expressing his complete dismay at Foreign Affairs’ decision to even ask such a question. The defensiveness in the tone of many of the “disagree” responses reveals that even staunch Israel supporters are realising that the two-state solution cannot resolve the Palestinian question and it is already dead thanks to Israeli apartheid policies in Palestine.

The alternative is clear: one state for all inhabitants of historic Palestine, regardless of race, ethnicity and religion; a state a la post-apartheid South Africa, one that is not based on the oppression of one community by another. A true solution to the Palestinian question cannot be reached by entertaining racist ideas about the separation of peoples. Only the restoration of Palestine’s multicultural identity, one that is inclusive, secular and democratic can lead to lasting peace between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and beyond.

Haidar Eid is an associate Professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.