The False Hope of the Two-State Solution and the Plight of Palestinians

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a story marked by decades of bloodshed, bitterness, and countless attempts at reconciliation.

Chief among these efforts is the two-state solution that has been held up as a promising path to peace.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that the persistent subscription to the two-state solution is a delusion that not only prolongs Palestinian suffering but also obstructs progress towards a fitting resolution of the Palestinian issue.

The roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict date back to the early 20th century when Jewish immigrants began arriving in Ottoman-ruled Palestine.

After World War II and the Holocaust, global sympathy for the Jewish people led to the United Nations’ historic proposal in 1947.

This plan recommended the partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem as an international city.

Jews seized this opportunity viewing it as a chance to secure a homeland for themselves.

But Arab states vehemently rejected it, refusing to recognise the legitimacy of a Jewish state in their midst.

This rejection set the stage for the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

After the Arab nations suffered consecutive defeats in their wars against Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973, Palestinians began to reluctantly accept the two-state solution.

This framework became the cornerstone of the Oslo peace talks in 1993, leading to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

Following the 1967 and 1973 wars, Israel greatly expanded its territorial control.

They eventually surrendered Sinai to Egypt but retained control of Gaza until 2005.

By the early 2010s, Israel’s enthusiasm for the two-state solution had diminished.

Noam Chomsky dates this shift to the early 1970s and attributes it in part to American sponsorship.

Regardless of the cause, neither party was willing to take the required steps to make the two-state solution a reality.

As a result, at least half a dozen efforts at two-state peace talks have failed since the Oslo Accords.

Today, the two-state solution remains an unattainable dream due to deep-seated animosities and divergent narratives.

Instead of focusing on the steps needed for peace, each side is focused on historical grievances and competing victimhood narratives.

The existence of Israel plays a pivotal role in shaping Palestinian victimisation identity, with the Nakba serving as a symbol of Palestinian dispossession and suffering.

Similarly, the mere idea of a Palestinian state with a standing army raises serious security concerns for Israel.

Israel, lacking naturally defensible borders, faces the perpetual threat of attacks from all sides.

This drives Israeli reluctance to allow a sovereign Palestinian state to exist, as it is perceived as a potential source of instability.

As a result, provocation and violence have become a routine part of life for both sides.

Israel’s expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, despite international condemnation, continually strains the prospects for a two-state solution.

Likewise, Palestinians’ attacks on Israel feed into the Israelis’ fear and insecurity narrative, justifying their continued use of overwhelming force as a means of deterrence.

It is quite clear that the pursuit of a two-state solution distracts from addressing the fundamental causes of the Palestinian conflict.

The peace process has become the end goal, but there is a lack of genuine commitment to the outcome.

One prominent issue demanding attention is Hamas, which openly rejects Israel’s existence and advocates for its destruction.

A peaceful future remains inconceivable with groups like Hamas in the equation.

Moreover, Palestine’s unilateral pursuit of recognition at the UN, in the absence of clearly defined borders, tends to shift focus away from the fundamental issues.

Symbolic victories may hold limited value, yielding little tangible progress on the ground.

Likewise, Israel’s insistence on labelling itself a Jewish state doesn’t contribute to progress.

While Israel may seek acceptance from its adversaries, peace becomes unattainable when grounded in exclusionary national principles.

Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The persistence of the two-state delusion, in the face of entrenched animosities, divergent narratives, and conflicting realities, is, by this definition, an exercise in futility.

Unfortunately, as the world holds on to a conscience-soothing ideal that serves no one, the suffering of the Palestinian people is prolonged.

With every cycle of violence and counter-violence, it is the people that pay the price.

We now have to explore alternatives that address the fundamental issues at the heart of this conflict.

Stay tuned for the upcoming article where we will delve into these alternative approaches, offering a glimmer of hope for a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.