When the two-state solution was envisioned, as reflected in the Oslo Accords, it seemed like a good idea. It took almost a decade of disappointing facts on the ground to realize that such a solution was not going to happen any time soon. Once I realized this, I, along with many Israelis, moved to the right, preferring to prioritize the safety of Jews to an idea that could not work under current conditions.
Since Oslo, the prospect of a two-state solution has deteriorated further. Several offers that would have led to a two-state solution were rejected by the Palestinian Authority. The Middle East has also been in constant turmoil, with the Syrian Civil War, Iran’s hegemonic ambitions, Hamas taking control of Gaza and the rise of ISIS and other Islamist forces. These factors mean that a loss of control over the West Bank would make Israel vulnerable to its enemies.
Perhaps more disheartening is the lack of trust between Israelis and Palestinians. The steps that had to be taken by the Israelis to protect themselves during the intifadas, including the security fence and the checkpoints, along with a Palestinian educational curriculum that contains large doses of Jew hatred and Palestinian victimhood, and financial incentives for violent attacks, have collectively made the gulf between Israelis and Palestinians enormous.
What government would hand over territory and risk the safety of its citizens knowing that its peace partner is poorly led, subject to being overthrown, rejects its right to exist and leads a population that hates and distrusts it?
The withdrawal from Gaza and the emergence of Hamas was instructive. So was the ascendancy of Hezbollah in Lebanon. It does not matter whether there is a BDS movement. It does not matter what various Jewish and non-Jewish groups think about the viability of their version of a two-state solution. When Israelis vote, the priority will be their security, the safety of their families and the
preservation of their way of life.
That is as it should be. The originally envisioned two-state solution is political suicide in the short term, because it is state suicide in the longer term. This situation is unfortunate for both Palestinians and Israelis.
It is not good for a people to feel tread upon, even if those who are doing the treading are doing so out of necessity. Nor is it good for Israel to be in a position where it must place its young people in danger in order to protect itself. And yet, the alternative of a two-state solution, without significant changes in Palestinian government and society, is entirely untenable. Positive change for the Palestinians will only arise when their own leadership makes the welfare of its people a priority.
It’s time for a paradigm shift in our thinking. It’s time to stop using the words “two-state solution” with no real understanding of what that solution would have to look like to be remotely possible for Israel to accept.
It is clear that the nature of a Palestinian state that would be required to ensure Israeli security would be unacceptable to the current Palestinian leadership. There would have to be dramatic changes in Palestinian attitudes, changes to the educational curriculum and an acknowledgement that Israeli security requires continued control over parts of what had at one time been envisioned as being part of a Palestinian state, at least initially.
To continue to speak of a two-state solution in its originally envisioned form as if it has any chance of success in the short or medium term is a recipe for failure, as it undermines the State of Israel and endangers Israelis.
It’s time to wake up and smell the all-too-bitter coffee.