Israel-Hamas War May Breathe New Life Into A Two-State Solution
“There has to be a vision of what comes next,” President Joe Biden of the US said last week on the raging Israel-Hamas conflict. “In our view, it has to be a two-state solution [Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side in their own sovereign countries],” he added.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President Emmanuel Macron echoed the sentiment. The two-state solution is getting a new hearing, not just in foreign-policy circles in Washington, London and Paris but also, among the combatants themselves.
Israelis And Palestinians May Need New Leaders
Gilead Sher, who helped lead Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians in the late 1990s and early 2000s, said: “We cannot return to a pattern where every other year, there is a violent confrontation.” He listed a string of caveats for Israeli-Palestinian discussions.
The two sides would have to start modestly. Notably, both would need new leaders, Sher said, since the existing ones have proved to be unwilling or incapable of striking an agreement. Above all, the Hamas group would have to be defeated and the Gaza Strip demilitarised.
The mechanics of such a peace process are far from clear. The European Union last week called for an international peace conference, an idea championed by Spain. Arab nations could also convene negotiations, though an early effort by Egypt last week produced little.
By all accounts, the US would have to take a central role in any discussions between Israel and Palestine. This has not happened since the Obama administration. Under President Donald Trump, the US shifted its energy to normalising ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
Saudi-Israel Normalisation Deal On Hold
Washington had been trying to broker a deal that would normalise ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Those talks have been put on hold by the war. If Israel were to revive them, that could put the two-state solution back on the table. Riyadh wants steps toward a Palestinian state.
Arab countries are also likely to push for the Palestinian problem to be addressed as a condition of playing a role in rebuilding postwar Gaza. Dangling the possibility of a Palestinian state could reassure Jordan and Egypt – concerned by the prospect of millions of refugees from Gaza.