I believe that based on the facts and the current situation in the Middle East, peace is not realistic for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the moment. I also believe that peace will most likely never happen at all for various reasons, but I think that the only glimmer of hope for peace lies in the hands of the surrounding Arab states.
Saudi Arabia is the most powerful state in the Middle East, with all the other Arab states following Saudi Arabia’s every move, and is not happy with the idea of Iran trailing closely behind. Saudi Arabia and Iran have a long-standing conflict being that one state is Sunni and one state is Shi’a and relations are nothing less of tense between the two countries and sects of Islam.
We have seen countless attempts at peace, like the Oslo Accords, but without any success for various reasons, with two, and the most important two, being Jerusalem and the Palestinian right to return. Both are terms that neither side is willing to negotiate on.
Here is where the Arab states come in.
We know that the Arab states have secret relations with Israel. Israel’s intelligence and technological advancements cannot be beaten, especially in the Middle East. While these relations may still be fairly new and under the radar, they are the most important diplomatic advancement to come out of the Middle East for years.
If the Saudis continue their under-the-radar negotiations with Israel, trading help in pressuring the Palestinians in exchange for important intelligence on countries like Iran, the biggest threat to the Saudis, we can see hope for peace.
If the Saudis threaten the Palestinians with decreased support for their future state, for example, that would, without a doubt, push the Palestinians to start negotiations. Any future state for the Palestinians will crumble without support from the Arab states, be it from terrorist groups or weakness of the state. A future state of “Palestine” has no chance of succeeding without the support of the Arab states.
This is the ideal scenario and most likely if the Arab states were to get directly involved in the conflict.
Say this route is not successful or the Saudis choose not to go this route, there is another option. While what I will present you with is an unlikely scenario and extremely controversial, it shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility because, with the current state of the Middle East, anything is possible. The other option for the Saudis and Arab states is to push what is often called a “Three State Solution.”
The three state solution is where Jordan would annex certain parts of the West Bank and Egypt would annex Gaza. Any Palestinians in those areas would become citizens of the country annexing the area and any Palestinians still remaining in Israeli territories would become Israeli citizens. There would be no “Palestine” and there would be no Palestinians. Each country would cease to call anyone in their country a Palestinian and that term would be defunct. The West Bank would be considered part of Jordan and Gaza would become considered part of Egypt.
This too comes with its own set of challenges. It would first need the Israelis to “clean out these areas” because both Egypt and Jordan do not want to annex these areas and do not want more Palestinians in their country. Hamas would need to be pulled out of power in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority would need to be dismantled.
The specific challenges for each country are as follows.
Jordan is most worried about absorbing roughly two million Palestinians as the Palestinians already living in their country have hurt their country and its economy severely, making the Jordanians not quite willing to accept these Palestinians with open arms.
Egypt is currently dealing with the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula and is struggling to put it plainly. The idea of having to overthrow or help take Hamas out of power is nothing short of stressful. To add on top the task of fixing the mess that is Gaza and its inhabitants is not a task Egypt is willing to take on.
Israel also has a problem of its own. For the Palestinians that would not be living in the territories being absorbed by Jordan or Egypt, they would become Israeli citizens. This would give them voting rights and creates a threat to the Israelis of the Palestinians overthrowing the government.
It would take lots of work, negotiations and convincing which is why it is the least likely solution, but it shouldn’t be ruled out. If Israel really motivates the Saudis, who would rally up support from the other Arab states, to push Egypt and Jordan to do this, it is a possibility because both of those countries would be facing even bigger challenges than internal conflict and ISIS without support from the big Arab states.
That given, it’s still least likely, but the importance of this entire post is to show you what I think is the only road to peace. The Israelis and Arabs have found a common enemy, Iran, and this is going to be the key to peace. It’s often underestimated, but the hate and tensions between the Sunni states and Iran outweigh all the hate towards Israel.
These diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states hold the future of the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.