The Trump administration’s historic recognition of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria is another, perhaps even the last nail in the coffin of the Palestinian state idea.
Some in Israel sought to question the motives and significance of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria do not violate international law. But the fact remains that the United States – the top world power holding the key to any move in the international arena, and certainly the Middle East, has pulled the rug from under the Palestinians’ prolonged attempt to force Israel to accept the Palestinian claim to withdraw to the 1967 lines and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Much like with its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the American administration did not seek to impose or create a reality, but rather to acknowledge existing reality on the ground, in other words, that the Israeli settlement enterprise had long crossed the point of no return. The fact that Pompeo’s statement was barely contested by the “usual suspects” – the Palestinians, Arab states and some European countries – only goes to show that many in the world have already accepted the fact that the two-state solution is questionable and may have even become defunct.
Today, the Palestinian national movement is plagued by one of the most difficult crises it has known and it has no answer to the challenge it faces, nor can it counter the US decision or Israel’s moves.
But the challenge the Palestinians are facing does not necessarily lie in the UN or in Washington, but rather among the Palestinian public itself.
Although the Palestinian youth remain committed to the idea of the Palestinian state, they are clearly interested in integrating into Israeli society. This is how it is in east Jerusalem as well as in other parts of Judea and Samaria.
This is seemingly a first-rate Israeli achievement, at least from the perspective of the current government. But if we are honest, this also poses a real challenge to Israel. After all, many in Israel, in government and in public, have opposed the idea of establishing a Palestinian state, but at the same time have refrained from presenting an alternative to the two-state solution, preferring to postpone any debate on the issue of the distant future, if at all.
But the future is here. In light of the collapse of the idea of the Palestinian state, Israel must come up with a policy that will allow it to continue and maintain its identity as a Jewish and democratic state. After all, the day when the Palestinians themselves will raise the demand for a single state solution is not far. In fact, even without an explicit demand, this idea slowly becomes a fact on the ground. Israel has a duty to look for a creative solution to this new reality, and if we hold a third election, this question should be put to the candidates wishing to lead the country.