I was going to begin this article with a recitation of funeral rites – funeral rights for the Two State Solution, the notional way forward to resolving the Palestine/Israel impasse.
That ‘solution’, at base, proposes there should be two states – a State of Israel alongside a newly minted State of Palestine – on the land that falls between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Thus stated, a certain superficial attractiveness attaches to the proposal in that ‘solution’ conjures a sense of almost mathematical symmetry between the two (potentially) participating parties, a sense that there is something inherently fair in the proposal: neither party gets all that it wants, but, equally, both parties make gains.
The language of ‘solution’ acts as a sort of verbal sleight of hand, whereby the standard meaning of a word or phrase, in this case ‘solution’, negates itself by virtue of being utterly divorced from the reality of the facts-on-the-ground, not least the disparity in power between the parties. For, in truth, Israel has never really accepted the possibility of a State of Palestine that was not in essence subservient to the Israeli state, even accepting that there were moments when Israel could countenance some sort of Palestinian entity running alongside it.
Notwithstanding all I’ve said above, the Two State Solution – the ‘solution’ that is not a solution – still attracts its adherents notwithstanding the sense of desperation that, to me, seems to attend their faith. Among them one can point to a recent article in The Cairo Review of Global Affairs ‘Is It Time to Bury the Two-State Solution?’ by Hesham Youssef, the headline of which declares:
‘While many may be dismissive of the two-state solution, there are no viable alternatives for peace between Israel and Palestine.‘
Similarly, Vox has an article by Zack Beauchamp ‘In defense [sic] of the two-state solution’ with the headline:
‘Some are declaring the two-state paradigm for Israel and Palestine totally doomed. But it’s not — and it’s still worth fighting for.‘
Both articles are actually quite good at spelling out in some detail the reasons why a Two State Solution is under (considerable) strain, but nevertheless cling tenaciously to the belief that two states is both desirable and still possible.
Why not a Two State solution?