Dead but Not Buried: Israel, Palestine and the Two-State Solution

Dead but Not Buried: Israel, Palestine and the Two-State Solution

A wise and experienced Israeli friend still quite active in Israel’s public life once quipped that an Israeli politician can be just dead, or dead and buried. The former allows for rehabilitation and even rebirth -- see Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon. The latter suggests a more permanent demise, such as Ehud Barak’s ambitions to become prime minister again.

Nowhere is this notion, and the differentiation it allows, more apt than in considering the fate of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of all the prospective outcomes to the knotty problem of the much-too-promised land, the idea of two independent states living side by side in peace and security is, while hardly risk-free, by far the least-bad outcome. And yet at the moment it seems the most unlikely, and has for some time now.

Still, the two-state solution, though impossible to implement now, is just dead; it is by no means dead and buried. Indeed, its curious fate is to be suspended in a state of limbo, somewhere between too hard to implement and far too important to abandon. More than likely, it will remain there, along with Israelis, Palestinians and their would-be American peace mediators, for the time being. Breaking out of this twilight zone would require a significant change in the calculations or political situations of one or more of the three key parties.

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