Is Two-State Solution Viable in Aftermath of Middle East Conflict?

Since the recent Gaza war, the international community has sought a humanitarian ceasefire and a two-state solution to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu refuses to hand over Gaza Strip’s security to Palestinian Authority, citing insistence as preventing the creation of a Palestinian state that would pose a threat to Israel.

Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, stated that this stance would indefinitely prolong the conflict and that a two-state solution is the only way out of this “hatred and violence.” Polls suggest that many Israelis believe the attack on October 7 by Hamas has highlighted the extreme danger of allowing an autonomous Palestinian entity to exist next door.Palestinians in the West Bank are increasingly supporting Hamas amid escalating settler attacks and Israeli military raids, accusing Israel of no interest in allowing Palestinians freedom.

Israel’s public support for peace is often criticized for not being responsive enough, inciting violence, and refusing to accept the concept of a ‘Jewish state.’ However, these accusations are actually smokescreens aimed at fooling the international community. If neither side is willing to make the necessary concessions for the creation of a Palestinian state, the question arises: should the two-state solution be forced on Israel? EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell suggested that the two-state solution may need to be “imposed from the outside” without Israeli consent.

The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, has repeatedly stated that the establishment of a Palestinian state with guarantees for Israel’s security is the sole way to bring peace. However, whether the US is willing or able to force Israel to accept an independent Palestinian state is another matter. Given Washington’s support for Israel and willingness to veto any censure of its ally in the UN Security Council, this approach seems unlikely. Additionally, any package of sanctions or threat of force designed to twist Israel’s arm into accepting a Palestinian state would likely be vetoed by the US, making the enforcement of any peace plan without Israeli consent a distinct impossibility.

The two-state solution, a proposed solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been met with resistance from European governments. The International Court of Justice in The Hague has not the power to enforce its rulings, despite directing Israel to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza. The two-state solution was first proposed in 1947 under the UN Partition Plan for Palestine. However, conflict and Israel’s control expansion have pushed back on this initiative. The Oslo Accords in 1993 led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, but it failed due to violent opposition and growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The Israeli government has launched a military campaign in Gaza following the October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people and 240 hostages. The Israeli army has been escalating a fierce campaign against Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, causing widespread destruction, prompting some commentators to emphasize the urgency of the Palestinian issue. The attack on Israel and the subsequent ‘take no prisoners’ style of revenge have reinvigorated world opinion, forcing political forces to insisted that a political solution satisfying Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations must be found. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that he has been opposed to a Palestinian state for 30 years and that it would never see the light while he was in power.

With 130 hostages still thought to be held in Gaza, the Israeli government is determined to continue operations until Hamas is defeated. Plans for the post-war governance of Gaza or a wider peace process are yet to be determined. Meir Javedanfar, an Iran and Middle East lecturer at Reichman University in Tel Aviv, tells Arab News that first and foremost, all of the hostages must be released before we can start thinking about solutions.

The peace process between Israel and Palestine is not dead, but negotiations can resume with the support of Washington and the Arab states. Once the war ends, Israel will be interested in talking with the Palestinian Authority and negotiating, with more support for the process than peace. However, the Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu, is facing a political battle with rivals accusing him of intelligence failures leading to the attacks and not doing enough to bring the hostages home. If Israelis continue to view him as the only candidate capable of standing up to international pressure and the prospect of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu’s political career may still survive.

For Kuttab, it is up to the international community to prove its seriousness about its professed support for the two-state solution. He believes that the world community must recognize Palestine and encourage the legitimate representatives of Israel and Palestine to negotiate modalities as two UN member states. All efforts must be placed on forcing Israel to grant equal political rights to all the people under its control, and Israel needs to decide to either share the land or share the power in historic Palestine