Emanuel Shahaf

Game over for the two state solution, get used to it

I think most analysts would agree that the two state solution which seemed to be the perennial answer to all the region’s woes if just the players would adopt it (no doubt a minor flaw..) is about to go belly up. Netanyahu’s reelection and his statement that a Palestinian state will not come into being on his watch have likely put that proposal to rest once and for all. Truth be told, no real reason to be sorry for the disposal of a solution that would have created a feeble Palestinian state with limited sovereignty and no real means of economic sustenance in such a charged environment. The only question now is what will come in its place and when.

The incoming Israeli government is unlikely to make any grand declarations and will probably not initiate momentous moves that could backfire by running into fierce international resistance from the start. As Netanyahu is wont to do, he will try to “manage the conflict”. That doesn’t absolve us from looking for alternatives because even the most rabid right winger must realize that the occupation, in addition to  causing tremendous hardship to millions of Palestinians is a magnet for international protests, a beacon to keep the BDS movement working overtime and a red flag for the European Union and US liberals, Jewish and not. It will simply not be sustainable, especially now that the US administration in a long overdue decision has clearly decided to play hardball against it.

And another thing: The left’s pathetic attempt to differentiate between the Palestinian Arabs inside Israel (subtext: They are good and can be kept, if with a little suspicion) and the ones in the West Bank and Gaza (subtext: They are bad and must be kept separate in their own state outside our borders because they are dangerous) is intellectually dishonest, ideologically off the charts and an expression of pure fear and/or racism. Let’s face it, the Palestinians are one people and are human beings who, if treated as human beings must be treated, will return the favor.

Separating the Palestinians in some political scheme that would leave the ones inside Israel in a democratic country with full (well, almost) citizen rights and the ones in the WB and Gaza in a Palestinian state where they would likely have diminished rights, albeit administered by Palestinians, is not a good recipe for a peaceful future in the Middle East. To even consider that a two state solution built on a scheme where two populations are kept close to each other but separate and totally unequal, has any real chance to be successful is a stretch at best.

If then the Palestinians in the WB and Gaza not only aren’t bad but they are the same as the Palestinians who we already live with, what would be the implications? Well, they are clear: Now that the two state solution is essentially dead, the one state solution in one of its many versions has become relevant. Let’s discuss it because no matter how hard we try to avoid the conclusions, both Palestinians and Jews are here to stay on the same piece of land. We have to work out a contract and make it work, even if Netanyahu has been elected again or may be especially because he has been elected again.

About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".