The dozens of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel recently are a reminder of what some have been saying since 2007. A two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians is not realistic.
A two-state solution, which would mean in one way or another having an Israeli state existing side-by-side with a Palestinian state, has been the focus of recent negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. There have been several reasons these talks are yet to produce an agreement, such as Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority refusing to acknowledge the existence of the Jewish state of Israel, which both Israel and the United States have said is a prerequisite for any agreement. But even if Israel and the PA work out their differences, a two-state solution would still not be realistic, because a two-state solution assumes the Palestinians are one unified people, which in reality is not the case.
Abbas and the PA claim to represent all Palestinians, including those in Gaza. But the PA hasn’t controlled Gaza since 2007 when Hamas took control of the area. Therefore, while Abbas and the PA may really want peace, and may really want an Israeli state and a Palestinian state peacefully existing side-by-side, they don’t have the ability to make it happen. They don’t have the ability to stop Hamas from firing rockets at Israeli civilians. As Naftali Bennet, Israel’s economy and trade minister has put it, negotiating a two-state solution for peace with the PA is like “negotiating over a car with someone who only owns half the car, and the owner of the other half says he won’t recognize any agreement you reach.”
The sad fact is that real peace in the Middle East can only be accomplished if Hamas is a party at the table agreeing to it. And so far not only have there been no signs that Hamas is interested in peace, but to the contrary by firing rockets at Israeli civilians they’re actively terrorizing people and stopping peace from happening.
A two-state solution is only possible if each state has a single government with control of all territories it claims to be representing. Therefore, as things currently stand, the most viable avenue for peace is not a two-state solution, but rather a three-state solution. In this solution, there would be an agreement between the PA, representing only the territories it actually controls, and Israel. At the same time there would be a separate agreement between Hamas, representing the areas it controls, and Israel (if Hamas would be willing to have any such agreement). With this three-state solution, any rockets fired from Gaza would only jeopardize relations between Israel and Hamas, and not relations between Israel and the PA (as it does with a two-state solution). This solution would therefore take some power away from Hamas, since Hamas would no longer be able to stop Israel and the PA from having a peace agreement with each other.
I hope those in positions of power in Israel, the PA, and America, consider working towards this three-state solution. I understand it’s no guarantee of peace. Negotiations would still need to happen, and some may argue that more parties at the table would make things more difficult. But a three-state solution is the most likely way for an agreement to result in real peace.