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Illusions and obstacles to the two-state solution initiatives after the Gaza war

February 5, 2024 at 9:07 pm

Smoke rises from Khan Yunis district as Israeli attacks continue in Rafah of Gaza on February 05, 2024 [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]

One of the most prominent results of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and Israel’s genocidal war against Gaza and its residents, who were cornered in Rafah on the Egyptian border to force them to migrate to Sinai, is the spread of Arab and international awareness and informing the public of the importance of the Palestinian issue, after its decline and marginalisation.

The Trump administration also succeeded, in exchange for gains, in reaching the “Deal of the century”, or the Abraham Accords, to integrate Israel into the Arab environment by normalising and establishing diplomatic relations with the UAE and Bahrain in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, and with Sudan and Morocco. This is at the expense of the Palestinian cause and not for its benefit, and violates the Arab initiative agreed upon by the Arabs at the Arab Summit in Beirut in 2002, “Land for Peace”, that is, Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab Territories in exchange for full Arab recognition of Israel and normalising relations with it.

As the war on Gaza turned into a costly war of attrition for both sides and with it entering its fifth month, the war brought the Palestinian cause to the forefront and highlighted the systematic, brutal Israeli behaviour against the Palestinians. It also exposed the crimes committed by the Occupation, which have been documented over 75 years, and put an end to the decline in the status of the Palestinian issue, despite the repeated closing statements issued at Arab summits and meetings, stating that the Palestinian issue remains their central issue.

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Today, we are witnessing signs of the expansion of the war with the first round of American retaliation against targets belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Iranian-backed factions in Syria and Iraq and, before that, against the Houthis in Yemen.

In light of this, the US and British foreign ministers announced their idea of recognising a demilitarised Palestinian state as a solution to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict and the recurring Gaza wars.

However, these promises, which have been repeated for decades, hit obstacles that are difficult to overcome, starting with the position of Netanyahu and his partners in his government, the most extreme in the history of occupation governments, including the Religious Zionism Party, which is given a biblical religious aspect and which believes in the right to establish the Greater State of Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates and refuses to demarcate the borders. Netanyahu personally bragged that he rejects the Oslo Accords, 30 years after it was signed between Rabin and Yasser Arafat through the mediation of President Clinton in 1993, which led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu also boasts and publicly reiterates his rejection of the two-state solution because it threatens Israel’s security, providing the example of Hamas’s operation against Israel as the Al-Aqsa Flood. This embarrasses President Biden and his vision of promoting the importance of establishing a Palestinian State to end the conflict.

The challenge for those who promote the two-state solution, which seems to be a mirage is, first, how to reach a ceasefire and end the war of genocide, as well as convince the most extremist government that blatantly and publicly rejects the two-state solution to accept the two-state solution vision.

The important question is: How serious is the American-British proposal? How can the two-state solution be achieved, which continues to be the vision and strategy adopted by successive American administrations? The US State Department spokesman confirmed at the end of January, “We are actively pursuing the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with real security guarantees for Israel, because we do believe that is the best way to bring about lasting peace and security for Israel, for Palestinians and for the region.” US news site, Axios, reported Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, asked the State Department to conduct a review and present policy options on possible US and international recognition of a Palestinian State after the war in Gaza and considering not using its veto to block the UN Security Council.

CIA Director, William Burns, stressed, in an important article in Foreign Affairs magazine, a few days ago, the need for “resurrecting hope for a durable peace that ensures Israel’s security as well as Palestinian statehood and takes advantage of historic opportunities for normalisation with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.”

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However, Biden’s positions are complicated, by his insistence on refusing to stop the war and providing the Israeli killing machine with weapons and cover. This is despite the differences and disagreements between Tel Aviv and Washington, the increased disputes within the Israeli war government, Biden’s expansion of his war in the region and the role of Congress, along with the House of Representatives, in supporting a bill banning the entry of all members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad Movements into the US. These are all challenges that are difficult to overcome!

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, confirmed that the British government is thinking of recognising the Palestinian State, and that the Palestinians must be given a political horizon to encourage peace in the Middle East. This is an interesting position from the UK, which has a colonial past, the Balfour Declaration and has paved the way for the establishment of the Occupying entity and the division of Palestine.

Meanwhile, President Biden, after a long wait, issued an executive order imposing US Treasury sanctions on 4 settlers involved in violence in the West Bank for threatening the security and interests of the US, as if the problem lies in the violence of the settlers and not in the approach and the American administrations’ empowerment and enablement of Israel’s governments, and especially Netanyahu, the most extremist Prime Minister in the history of the Occupation, to allow groups of settlers to wreak havoc, destruction and abuse on the Palestinians, their property, farms and crops, by destroying and burning them, and even allowing them to kill the Palestinians in the West Bank.

Journalist, Thomas Friedman, in the New York Times, who is close to decision-makers in the US, also promotes and explains a clear doctrine adopted by President Biden, consisting of three tracks. One of those tracks is working to develop an unprecedented American diplomatic initiative to promote a Palestinian State, which would “involve some form of US recognition of a demilitarised Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that would come into being only once Palestinians had developed a set of defined, credible institutions and security capabilities to ensure that this State was viable and that it could never threaten Israel. Biden administration officials have been consulting experts inside and outside the US government about different forms this recognition of Palestinian statehood might take.”

However, the clear truth is that the best that can be expected after marathon negotiations without specifying a time limit is not a fully sovereign State, but rather a “demilitarised Palestinian State” that is preceded by pressures to proceed with normalisation with the Arab environment, especially the biggest prize: Saudi Arabia. This completely reverses the Arab initiative by granting normalisation before the establishment of the alleged Palestinian State, so let us not be fooled by the promotion of the two-state solution illusion.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Quds on 4 February, 2024

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