The Two State Solution is no more

Analysis Nine Words Biden Uttered at Tel Aviv Airport Reveal His Policy on Israel-Palestine

In U.S. President Biden’s speech on the first day of his visit to Israel and the West Bank, he actually mentioned ‘peace’ once, but it seems nearly all those present would rather avoid it

By Noa Landau, HAARETZ

Over the years, welcoming ceremonies in Israel for American presidents usually include several motifs that are repeated, irrespective of who the hosts or guests are. Among such motifs – which are really akin to the red carpet and the playing of the American and Israeli national anthems – there is regular mention in the speeches of the “unbreakable” bond between the countries and the Bible and the Holocaust as well as technology and defense. But beyond that, they always feature the aspiration for peace, whether genuine or not.

Whether the visiting U.S. president is Barack Obama or Donald Trump, the word peace has always been generously sprinkled into the speeches, even when there was no doubt that it involved an empty gesture, a fig leaf. But at Wednesday’s welcoming ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport for President Joe Biden, despair and weariness were more in evidence than ever before.

After years in which power was held by the right wing, Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the representative of the Israeli center-left, took to the podium without mentioning the word “peace” even once. There were references to democracy, freedom, Zionism and the Bible, as well as high-tech and security. But nothing about peace. The closest he got to such a reference was a hint about closer ties with Saudi Arabia.

Lapid told Biden: “During your visit, we will discuss matters of national security. We will discuss building a new security and economy architecture with the nations of the Middle East, following the Abraham Accords and the achievements of the Negev Summit.”

Peace was transformed into architecture. So from now on, Israel is now seeking architecture in the Middle East. In Biden’s speech, he actually mentioned the word peace once. He also stuck in the word integration instead. (“We’ll continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region.”)

But the U.S. president’s real policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue was revealed in just a few words parenthetically, muttered offhandedly and barely understood: “We’ll discuss my continued support – even though I know it’s not in the near-term – [for] a two-state solution. That remains, in my view, the best way to ensure the future of [an] equal measure of freedom, prosperity, and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The nine words “even though I know it’s not in the near-term,” made it clearer than anything the sense of despair with which the president’s administration views the subject and how weak to nonexistent the motivation is to deal with it. Less than Obama’s and even than Trump’s.

Under Biden, it appears that the United States just wants to rid itself of the Israeli-Palestinian burden. The U.S. commitment to a two-state solution never sounded more threadbare and disparaged than in Biden’s remarks on the airport red carpet. The only person there who dared speak clearly about peace – real peace, not regional architecture or integration – was Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, whose speech seemed a bit more of the traditional genre expected from someone on the Israeli center-left.

It’s been several years now that the word peace has been excluded from Israeli-Palestinian discourse. It might be argued that the despair and the changed discourse reflect a more pragmatic approach – less hypocrisy and idealization and more of an understanding that at the moment, there is no immediate horizon for a solution.

All of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speeches about peace and prosperity were of no avail when in practice his policy was to do the exact opposite. And when it comes down to it, Biden was apparently stating the truth: Personally (he didn’t even say the United States), I still support a two-state solution, but it’s clear to me that it won’t happen soon.

One could also argue that Lapid was actually adapting himself to the Israeli mainstream (which finds the word peace toxic) in an effort to avoid giving the Likud campaign ammunition – and it’s also not important what he called it exactly as long as he intends to advance such a process. (But he doesn’t have such intent.)

And the truth is that more than seeking to convey a pragmatic or frank message, Biden was mainly trying to send the Israeli government a message that it can relax when it comes to the extent of diplomatic pressure he intends to apply in the course of the visit. In other words, zero pressure.

While on the ground, Israel continues to expand and create West Bank settlements and retroactively authorize unauthorized outposts, along with the de facto annexation of all of Jerusalem and more, Biden’s limp message about a two-state solution and the absence of a reference to peace in Lapid’s speech not only describe reality. They also create a reality.

It’s a reality in which no one wants peace anymore.

July 14, 2022 | 6 Comments »

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6 Comments / 6 Comments

  1. @peloni


    Gantz goes full TSS – Must Watch Video:
    Benny Gantz: The Abraham Accords could lead to separation from the Palestinians


    He [Gantz] added, “Israel was moved from EUCOM to CENTCOM – and we use it as a strategic umbrella.

    This means that Israel’s military is now under the command (or, at least, control) of the US military (basically, as a part of it).

    I think most people don’t understand this.

    Could it be the explanation of Gantz’s words and behavior?

  2. Biden’s words could be interpreted in two different ways – either for the TSS (otherwise why mention it) or “despairing” of the TSS.

    The author simply chose to interpret them as him being in despair for the TSS ever materializing.

    Personally, I think the content of the official speeches is known in advance to both sides.

  3. Gee I’m sorry that the writer is so depressed with the notion that Israel might not be pressured into yet more real concessions while getting nothing but empty words and more dead Jews in return.
    Truly breaks my heart.

  4. In reality, people usually talk peace when they are ending a war. We have a sort of halfway peace, but if we could agree on some of the realistic practical pieces that invested both sides, peace might just develop in order to keep the benefits intact. What’s the point of talking about peace when one of the partners is not invested in it but says all the time they want to destroy Israel? Israel in no way represents a normal situation. Codes have to be used in public discourse, because there are things being done we don’t talk about. Hamas and the PA require different approaches, and that is a part of the puzzle. So, talking about peace is just too ephemeral. Nuts and bolts are more realistic.