This is a great story that’s ricocheting around the Middle East and Foggy Bottom too: John Kerry is saying that the two-state solution will die within two years. He surely knows it’s dead now, because his State Department will do nothing to end the settlement project, and he is preparing the west to move on to a new paradigm. Bad news for the Israelis, who have gotten to have their cake and eat it too.
The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood reports (thanks to commenter Mikeo):
The high-level acknowledgement that the prospects of a “two-state solution” to the 65-year conflict are rapidly diminishing came in evidence to the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee on Wednesday.
“I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting,” the secretary of state said. “I think we have some period of time – a year to year-and-a-half to two years, or it’s over.”
He added: “Everybody I talk to in the region and all of the supporters globally who care … want us to move forward on a peace effort. They’re all worried about the timing here. So there’s an urgency to this, in my mind, and I intend, on behalf of the president’s instructions, to honour that urgency and see what we can do to move forward.”
The two sides have not met for more than two-and-a-half years, and there have been no substantial peace talks since 2008.
Israelis don’t like this– to have the figleaf of the two-state solution ripped away. The Telegraph reports:
“I would be very cautious before making any such prediction. No one in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya saw the Arab Spring coming. Who knows what will happen in the Middle East in the next two years,” said one high-ranking Israeli official.
“[Kerry] has shown good will and commitment. But when it comes to the heart of the matter he has no bright ideas and yet is insisting we start from scratch, scrapping everything that was achieved by his predecessors. For those of us who have seen this all before, it is frustrating.”
Recall that in December, Elliott Abrams, who spent years maintaining the figleaf for Israel as it devoured the West Bank, ripped Jodi Rudoren of the Times for suggesting that construction in E-1 would finish the two-state solution, and to her credit, Rudoren took him on:
The essence of what our E1 story said was correct: that building there is seen by palestinians, peace advocates and diplomats worldwide as the death knell of the two state solution, because it prevents meaningful contiguity in the West Bank and easy access to the heart of East Jerusalem. (The Israelis also understand this; it’s precisely why this area was chosen at this time.)
By the way, even J Street has hinted that 2013 is make or break for the two-state solution. So maybe Washington is waking up.
Reality check. Jeff Halper of ICAHD long ago stated that the possibility of establishing a real Palestinian state on the West Bank was finished. Lately he wrote:
Let’s say it clearly and categorically: the two-state solution is dead. If the possibility ever genuinely existed – a subject historians are welcome to debate – it is gone as a political option. We should even stop talking about it because constant reference to an irrelevant “solution” only confuses the discussion.
How do we get to such an unequivocal pronouncement? Well, it only takes a little digging into the positions behind the official words and the ability to decipher the “codes” in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is couched to arrive at the unsurprising and straightforward conclusion that Israel has no intention of allowing a viable and truly sovereign Palestinian state to emerge even on the 22% of historic Palestine that is the Occupied Territory. But Israel does not rely solely on its political opposition to a “genuine” two-state solution – that is, one on which a Palestinian state arises on all the territory occupied in 1967, even if that is desired and the refugee issue can be somehow finessed – to carry the day. It has laid over the Occupied Territory a matrix of control anchored in its all-encompassing settlement project to effectively foreclose that option. Finally, Israel relies in Europe, but even more so on the United States, to fend off any international initiatives that might result in a two-state solution.