Today, Almost a year on from the last war in Gaza, we declare the two-state solution dead. Not because we want to, but because there comes a point when you have to stop resuscitating and check your watch.
Need convincing? Look at the map: 430,000 Jews living in huge settlements in the West Bank. Look at the politics: a coalition openly against compromise. Look at the Palestinians: terrorists in the left corner, imbeciles in the right. And look at the terrain: jihadists knocking on the door in broken states surrounding Israel’s borders.
It pains us to say so, but there is now no way of achieving an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state reassured of its security. It simply won’t be granted. We hope this reality changes, but reality it nevertheless is.
Leaving aside the blame game, let’s deal with what’s in front of us and start with the bottom line – a defensible eastern border. In the West Bank this most likely means military control of the Jordan Valley. Israeli negotiators have long said so in talks with the Palestinians.
The debate is whether this security can be achieved through a foreign force [United Nations? United States? EU?], Israeli military control over a Palestinian state or Israeli sovereignty.
Hawks say only the latter will do. Foreign troops are too risky. Israelis see UN peacekeepers unable to stop fierce fighting in other parts of the world, so recoil at trusting them with their own border. They have a point. If you want to defend yourself, there’s no better alternative to a soldier fighting on his own land.
There is another problem with a one-state solution. Either Israel will make the 2.5 million Palestinians in the occupied territories Israeli citizens, leading to situation where Jews are the minority in a Jewish state. Or the Palestinians are denied full and equal rights, leading to an invidious situation for any democracy.
That leaves either Israeli military control over a Palestinian state, or Israeli military control over an Israeli state, within which there are Palestinians.
The latter leaves nothing to chance, but both options leave questions as to how Israelis and Palestinians live under one IDF roof.
In our report this week we explore some of the options, including controversial ideas from those branded “racist”. Explore them we must. Our magical default to-date has been to say that we want two states for two peoples, both of whom have legitimate claims on the land. It always worked. It was fair, familiar, safe. But it was always a distant, receding dream, a speck on the horizon.
And that solution has now finally vanished. Whether Israel lives with the status quo or proceeds down a different path (unilaterally or in agreement) remains to be seen, but one thing becomes ever clearer: what life looks like after the death of the two-state solution is now the Middle East’s most pertinent question.
This week, we started asking it.