As the war wages on, we are left with the question of what comes next as it relates to Gaza and the conflict as a whole. Many world leaders and analysts continue to call for a two-state solution, and while this sounds good on paper, the reality of this idea is not even an option. The idea of a two-state solution is something that historically carried weight and at times appeared to be something that was somewhat plausible. It can be argued that Israel has done a lot to try to bring about a two-state solution, dating back to the creation of the modern state of Israel and forward to the Oslo accords. With the current situation, this idea has become something that is not even possible.
There are several things that make a two-state solution a thing of the past. First is the reality that with two states, you have two state actors, but this has not been the case since 2006, when Hamas won a democratic election in Gaza. While it can be argued that Hamas is on its way out, the reality that the PLO and its leadership, under Mahmoud Abbas, running the Gaza Strip is not likely. The PLO has struggled to maintain its political control of the West Bank as a growing increase in the popularity of Hamas has risen there. The second major stumbling block that has been debated for decades is: How do you take two separate land masses and make them one? There have been suggestions of a land bridge that connects the two territories or finding a way of commuting people back and forth between the two territories, but neither of these options seem possible. Also, the idea of Israel giving up more land for peace has historically never favored Israel. Whether it’s been because of security issues or just plain old logistics, all the ideas of joining these two territories have been hard to overcome in the past and don’t appear to be any easier now. Finally, it can be argued that the lack of natural resources in both Gaza and the West Bank would pose many challenges for both territories. Without Israel’s help to provide essential resources such as water and soil nutrients, the territories would be left in tough positions. These types of natural resources are something that would take time and technology to achieve, something that a new Palestinian state would not have the luxury of. Overall, the two-state solution is really an idea of the past, and while it sounded good, it’s time to face the reality that it’s not attainable. So, where do we go from here?
To really understand where we are, we must first face the reality of the situation and ask, what do the Palestinians want? If we look at history, we can clearly see that the Palestinians are not looking for peace. Especially not the peace that the West has tried to idealize as a universal desire of modern states. We can see this not only in the polls and in the response to current events on October 7th, but also in the historical context of the election of Hamas in Gaza in 2006. To accept the kind of peace that western countries portray, the Palestinians would have to fully accept Israel and relinquish what they say is their claim to the land that is currently Israel’s. The Palestinians are not looking for a state that will exist within the territory of Gaza or the West Bank, but rather, they desire a state without Israel that would encompass all the land that is currently Israel. So, in many Palestinians’ minds, peace comes with the inhalation of Israel.
With this all said, the physical war will come to an end, but the war over the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people and beyond will continue on. While Israel will complete its mission of removing Hamas, the ideology and indoctrination to hate Jewish people will take a long time—even decades—to change and may require wars that will have to go beyond both Israel and the Palestinian territories. While this may sound pessimistic, it’s not. It’s the sad reality that we find ourselves in. If we desire to come up with real solutions for the future, we must face this reality head-on. Israel and the Palestinians can live in peace, but first they must choose to come to grips with where they stand and decide if they want peace. The road forward is one that will take time, perseverance, and a new paradigm for the Palestinian people. While we can come up with many ideas about how to create a new Gaza, Let’s acknowledge the truth that the only way forward is the way that recognizes that a two-state solution is not a plausible current solution, but a process of shifting paradigms and a new education of the Palestinians must be the foundation for any change. Let’s learn from the past and hope to change the future for the better.