For Palestinians two-state solution was dead long before Netanyahu win

Shafik Mandhai

Analysts say the prospect of establishing an independent Palestinian state was consistently frustrated by Israel while the solution failed to address key grievances. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has won the country’s parliamentary election with his hard-right Likud-led bloc taking a majority of the Knesset’s 120 seats.

The result means Netanyahu will start a record fifth term in office, in what was widely seen as a referendum on his rule after being plagued with corruption allegations. No sooner had exit polls been released, analysts began publishing a deluge of obituaries for the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

But for many ordinary Palestinians that plan was dead on arrival and failed to address their key grievances from the get go. “The two state solution was pushed on the Palestinians as a compromise after having lost most of their homeland,” Palestinian academic Dr Yara Hawari told TRT World. “It was solidified as the only solution by the Oslo Peace Accords which attempted to stage the process of Palestinian statehood,” she added.

Ignoring key issues: During the formation of Israel in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homes and sent into exile across the Middle East. They and their descendants continue to live outside of their homeland with no right of return. Their plight was further compounded after the Arab defeat in the 1967 war, which saw Israel capture the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, which remain under occupation to this day. According to Hawari, the Oslo accords never addressed the key issues of Palestinian refugees being allowed to return home, or the final status of Jerusalem, and was therefore no solution to the conflict.

“The two state solution fails to address the wrong doing of the 1948 Nakba,” she said, adding: “For a lasting solution, we need a process of decolonisation that looks at previous and present wrong doings as a continuous process that cannot be relegated to the past. “Only then will we be able to achieve justice and equality.”

Israeli commitment to two-state model: Hawari said the two-state solution offered a deeply flawed model of Palestinian sovereignty, Israel’s commitment to it was always questionable. Since the Israeli occupations of the East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza began, Israel built settlements to solidify its rule over the territories.

Today there are 400,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank with another 200,000 in East Jerusalem. The strategy, Hawari explained was not an initiative started by the Israeli hard-right, like Netanyahu, but instead has been a consistent feature of all Israeli governments.“This was a project that was initiated by the Israeli Labor Party- not the fringe far right as many liberals would have you believe,” she said, adding: “As a settler colonial enterprise, (Israel’s) interest is to occupy, annex and settle as much Palestinian (and Syrian) land as possible with as little non-Jews as possible. “This is the essence of the Zionist ideology- that the biblical “Land of Israel” belongs to the Jewish people alone and that Zionism is the national realisation of this.”

Israeli ambitions: So if a viable Palestinian state was never on the cards, what does Israel want exactly? According to Middle East Politics analyst, Jeremy Wildeman, the long-term goal for the Israeli government, especially right-wing coalitions headed by Netanyahu is “the annexation of as much of the remaining Palestinian land as possible, without the original people on it.”

Wildeman explained that Netanyahu would look to speed up settlement expansion in areas of the West Bank, effectively locking in Palestinian administered territories, which made up less than 40 percent of the territory. The academic said that process started in 1967, but would likely accelerate given the current leadership in both Israel and the US. “The difference now is that we are likely to see the Netanyahu and Trump governments drop the rhetoric of Oslo, because Oslo is predicated on the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories seized in 1967, and that is an anathema to the aspirations of the Israeli right-wing.” he said.

“They are likely to use the Netanyahu-Trump political configuration to officially kill-off Oslo.” According to Wildeman, by killing off the two-state solution, Israel was fuelling the popularity of alternative plans for peace. One that is growing in popularity is the one-state solution, which calls for a single bi-national state in the occupied territories, as well as Israel. “With this shift, you may see more and more Palestinians, especially the youth, give up on all aspects of Oslo and the two-state solution,” Wildeman said, adding many Palestinians would: “Move over increasingly to an argument for equal rights in the same country”.