Neither a two-state nor one-state solution is viable. What now?

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Smoke rises from buildings after Israeli airstrikes in Rafah, Gaza on December 14, 2023. [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]

Israel has discarded any pretence of ambiguity, openly declaring its rejection of a Palestinian state and effectively quashing the prospects of a two-state solution. The unequivocal statement by Shlomo Karhi, ambassador to the UK and close associate of Netanyahu, encapsulates the unyielding position now articulated within Israel: “We live here; this is our country. The historical estate of our ancestors. There will be no Palestinian state here. We will never allow another state to be established between the Jordan and the sea. We will never go back to Oslo.”

While a two-state solution was inherently flawed, allocating 80 per cent of the land to Zionists, the stark reality is that implementing a two-state solution is now utterly impractical on the ground, given the extensive territorial fragmentation caused by Israel’s occupation and settlements—a plan it executed intentionally.

The scale of the Hamas attacks on 7 October has laid bare Israel’s objectives. The ongoing destruction of the Gaza Strip serves to make a Palestinian state politically and geographically unattainable. The pressing question now is: what next?

If the future entails one state instead of two, further complexities arise. Can there be equal rights for all? How do Israelis and Palestinians share power? The stark reality is that they cannot. So, where do we go from here?

Since its establishment, and even prior to 1948, Israel’s strategic objectives have transcended the pursuit of peaceful coexistence, emphasising territorial expansion—a vision encapsulated in the symbolic “From the Nile to the Euphrates” represented by the two blue lines on their flag. The Palestinian call for freedom, expressed as “From the river to the sea,” has been inaccurately—and purposefully—misconstrued as advocating the eradication of Jews in the region. In reality, the actual ethnic cleansing is being carried out by Israel from the river to the sea.

Israel’s actions are focused on implementing divisive control strategies, aiming for dominance over the entire region. The use of barriers, checkpoints and exclusive zones contributes to a fragmented landscape, reinforcing the notion that Israel’s intentions prioritise dominance rather than regional harmony. The annexation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, coupled with discriminatory double standards towards its Arab citizens, is indicative of Israel’s broader agenda. It highlights a consistent pursuit aimed at permanently solidifying Jewish control and supremacy over the entirety of historic Palestine. The expansion of settlements in the West Bank, considered illegal by international law, underscores a deliberate strategy favouring land acquisition over the negotiation of enduring peace agreements. The contentious construction of these settlements adds another layer of complexity, further undermining the feasibility of a two-state solution.

Insights from Shabtai Shavit, the former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, further contribute to the ongoing discussion about Israel’s approach to peace in the Middle East. Shavit’s candid remarks suggest that Israel’s rejection of pursuing peace is a conscious decision, not merely a response to external factors. According to Shavit, key figures in Israel’s leadership, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have avoided meaningful peace discussions with the Palestinian Authority. Shavit argued that if Israel genuinely sought peace, it would have explored mutually beneficial economic and infrastructure initiatives. However, internal political pressures, especially from the Israeli right wing, have played a decisive role in thwarting such negotiations. Shavit’s claim that Netanyahu avoids dialogue due to the perceived lack of a viable negotiating partner adds another layer to the argument that Israel’s intentions are more strategically driven than a sincere pursuit of lasting peace.

During a truce in November, Israeli magazine +972 reported conversations with current and former members of the Israeli intelligence service, exposing a strategy that deliberately targets civilians in Gaza. The pretext of targeting Hamas or Islamic Jihad members masks bomb attacks intended to devastate civilian targets and cause significant casualties. This intentional policy of harming civilians and destroying residential homes raises concerns about the scale of destruction and its impact on the Palestinian population. Richard Goldstone’s previous remarks about a deliberate policy of disproportionate force during Israel’s 2008–2009 war, aiming to punish, humiliate and terrorise civilians, reflect the current situation. The underlying Dahiya doctrine, originating from Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon, commits to using disproportionate force against civilian areas linked to missile launches. This approach, involving collective punishment, intentional killing and destruction, accompanied by genocidal rhetoric, constitutes a calculated and purposeful act of terror with genocidal proportions. Notably, such tactics were present even before the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, with historical instances of groups like Haganah engaging in deliberate acts of terror, including against Jews and the British.

The ongoing political changes in Israel, marked by a growing fascistic culture, genocidal rhetoric and the notion that only the Jewish people hold sovereignty in Israel/Palestine, indicate a concerted effort to eliminate the Palestinians. This endeavour extends beyond physical and existential dimensions; it is also a politically driven campaign of politicide. This strategy is now compounded by the unfolding genocide in Gaza and, to a slower but equally systematic extent, in the West Bank.

What happened on 7 October was inevitable given what Israel has been doing, including the prolonged sixteen-year blockade of Gaza and its aggressive settler-colonial policies displacing Palestinians while creating a separation between the West Bank and Gaza. The violence against Palestinians was already occurring, prompting Hamas to challenge this reality and address the longstanding Palestinian question. Ultimately, resistance to the Israeli occupation is inevitable because the brutality of the Israeli occupation necessitates a form of violence in response. If it were not Hamas, another group would soon emerge to resist the brutal oppression and occupation.

Israel perceives the current situation as an opportunity to eliminate Palestinian resistance for decades. Despite Israel’s claim that its response to the events of 7 October is about self-preservation and a second independence war, the reality is starkly different. Its actions aim at eradicating the foundation of Palestinian existence in Palestine, extending beyond Gaza to the West Bank. Their actions in Gaza are unequivocally genocidal. The complicity of the West, particularly the active support from the US, adds to the gravity of the situation. Regrettably, the United Nations stands powerless and ineffective in halting any of these disturbing developments. Palestinians face starvation and the daily sadistic acts of humiliation, abuse, kidnappings, executions at point-blank range and blanket bombing. The disturbingly violent actions of armed settlers, unleashed with government support and approval, further compound the abuse unleashed on the Palestinians.

The pressing question remains: what comes next? Israel seems to have only one end goal in mind: the end of the Palestinians in Palestine. A two-state solution is not viable. Perhaps it’s time to recognise that the Zionist project, aiming to establish a racially biased, rogue state on usurped land, has failed. Remove the Zionist entity from Palestine. End the occupation.

Imagine a scenario where both Jewish and Palestinian communities actively work together to create a shared, inclusive vision for the region. A collaborative effort leads to the establishment of a binational state where equal rights, representation and opportunities are guaranteed for all citizens, irrespective of their background. Educational programmes promote cultural exchange, and joint initiatives in science, arts and commerce strengthen the bonds between the communities. Recognising historical narratives, the society values diversity, ensuring that both Jewish and Palestinian heritage contribute to the rich tapestry of the nation. Through diplomatic channels, regional cooperation flourishes, creating a model of coexistence that inspires harmony beyond borders.

Just imagine. And then, truly, from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

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Disclaimer: Neither a two-state nor one-state solution is viable. What now? - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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