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The demise of the two-state solution

Even if the Palestinians agree to implement all of Israel's preconditions for the peace talks, the Israeli government will surely invent new and even more ridiculous terms to delay yet further the establishment of a viable state of Palestine. This is not surprising given that the then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said, before his assassination by a Jewish extremist, that he wished that he could wake up one day to find that the sea has swallowed Gaza. His successor Benjamin Netanyahu has since added, "If only the Palestinians would disappear from the face of the earth." That is the prevailing attitude which frames Israel's approach to the negotiations.

The Israelis do not want the Palestinians to have an independent state, even if this state has nothing more than the facade of self-governance. Israel does not even want the Palestinians to have an independent entity, so how would they ever allow them to have a state, about which the Israelis are extremely sensitive? That is why they continue to create difficult preconditions in an attempt to prolong the "peace process" and delay the establishment of a Palestinian state which, they believe, would be detrimental to Israel's survival and lead to its eventual demise, even if it is demilitarised and lacks complete sovereignty.

For this reason, Israel has deemed Jerusalem to be the "undivided and eternal capital of Israel" and it also rejects completely the Palestinian refugees' right of return. When the proposal was made by the then President Bill Clinton to allow a limited return of refugees through family reunification, which has been adopted recently by US Secretary of State John Kerry, it was rejected by the Israelis. Furthermore, Israel has proposed a land swap of an area known as the Triangle, home to the majority of Palestinians living in Israel, for large settlement blocs in the West Bank. Israel is well aware that most of its Palestinian citizens would reject this proposal and that the Palestinian Authority would not accept it under any circumstances because it would mean that Palestinians agree to transfer fellow Palestinians from their homes.

Israel has a list of the settlement blocs (all illegal under international law) which it intends to annex under any agreement with the Palestinians. Netanyahu has told Kerry of this. The four blocs in question house a total of 400,000 settlers.

The latest condition imposed by Israel is to keep troops in the Jordan Valley, which is the border between the West Bank and the Hashemite Kingdom. Netanyahu's government has rejected Secretary Kerry's proposal that American or international troops could be based in this area to allay security fears; this suggests that Israel will be able to enter Palestinian territory whenever it sees fit. This is not fiction, nor is it a "what if" scenario. We saw how Ariel Sharon justified his invasion of the Palestinian Territories in 2002; Israel will not need any excuse to reoccupy any Palestinian territory which may become part of the new state. In other words, if Israel leaves Palestine through the front door, it will find a way back in through the window.

Land issues aside, Israel also insists on Palestinian recognition of it as "the Jewish state". Acceptance of the false Israeli narrative about this would threaten, by necessity, the security of the Palestinians in Israel; hence, the scenario of Palestinians having to approve the transfer of other Palestinians from their land. Palestinians must also accept that Palestine is the Jews' historic homeland and that Palestine "was a land without a people for a people without a land", with no Arab or Islamic history.

Although they were meant to be dealt with in the so-called "final status talks" dictated by the Oslo Accords, the Israelis are bent on killing-off the negotiations be refusing to compromise on two critical issues: the status of Jerusalem and the refugees' legal right of return to their land. According to Israeli law, any current or future head of state or government official is prohibited from discussing or negotiating these two issues without the approval of the Knesset (parliament). Due to the changing nature of Israeli politics, as it heads further towards political extremism, this more or less means that, as things stand, these issues will never be on the table for discussion.

Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967, illegally, and since this date it has refused to broach this subject in any talks; it remains off-limits, regardless of what was agreed in Oslo. If the Knesset refuses to move on this issue, it is quite possible that it will become impossible to discuss and Israel's adamant refusal to talk about the very nature of a two-state solution will lead to the demise of the peace process. Furthermore, Israel's insistence on preserving the "Jewishness of the state" makes it impossible for Israel to be a truly democratic state. It could be Jewish or it could be democratic; it could not be both.

The demise of the two-state solution has not happened by chance; it was the result of many of the factors mentioned above. These make it impossible to establish a contiguous and integrated Palestinian state because settlement expansion continues to confiscate Palestinian land under the pretext of Israeli security, the government's main excuse for not allowing the establishment of an independent and viable Palestine. Bizarrely, despite this, Palestinians and Arabs are still calling for a two-state solution, ignoring the obvious impossibility of this being realised. The two-state solution has become nothing more than an illusion. The Palestinians need to move on and not be bound by the intractable current situation.

This is a translation of the Arabic text published by Al Quds newspaper on 29 January, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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