Is the Two-State Solution Dead?
Through the recent Israeli election, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made his way back to the forefront of Israeli politics. He was able to revive his political legitimacy through connecting with ultra-right-wing politicians and parties, amongst whom is Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of Otzma Yehudit, an extremist far-right nationalist party. Thus, although Netanyahu was prime minster before, it seems that his new alliance with the far-right poses a greater threat to Palestinians and Arab-Israelis than before, making the prospect of a two-state solution seem even further out of reach.
Since the first phase of the Oslo Accords in 1993, all efforts to establish sustainable peace between Palestinians and Israelis have failed, and the probability of a two-state solution has become more and more distant. But even with the continuous tensions, Netanyahu’s resurgence still represents a turn for the worse. Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir have already discussed legalising dozens of settler outposts in the West Bank. Essentially, this would seek to broaden the scope of Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank, and could act to undermine any future that the two-state solution may have. Through extending settler presence in the West Bank, the Israeli government is showing a complete disregard of the 1967 borders. Ben-Gvir himself lives in an illegal settlement in the West Bank. Moreover, his main voting demographic is comprised of illegal settlers, who are hoping he will continue to legitimize and expand their presence in the West Bank. In this sense, the idea of the two-state solution seems irrelevant, as the Israeli far-right has completely undermined the very existence of Palestinians in these territories.
Netanyahu’s comeback also threatens the legitimacy of Arab-Israeli political parties that have been recognized in parliament, such as Ra’am and Balad. As mentioned in ‘The Far Right Rises in Israel’ (2022) by the New York Times, this shift towards the right and the discourse surrounding it reveals that right-wing nationalists are more likely to prioritize Israeli-Jewish dominance over democracy and equality.
With this in mind, it is unclear if there will be any future for the two-state solution. It has become so far removed from political discourse in Israel, and with Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir in the political arena, the future security and political representation of Palestinians and Arab-Israelis remains under threat. It is saddening to think that the hope created in Oslo is far out of reach, and the divide between Palestinians and Israelis is likely to only get more intense from this point onwards.