A central question of the Middle East Peace Process remains: can the two-state solution be saved?
Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories – contrary to the recent UN resolution 2334. Against this backdrop, a conference has been organized in Paris on Sunday, January 15 to try to relaunch the moribund peace process. Over 70 countries will be attending the conference although Israeli and Palestinian officials will not be present.
The French Initiative has been warmly received by the Palestinian leadership as a final chance to save the two-state-solution: “Two states today is possible. Tomorrow, it might be too late” warned Muhammad Shtayyeh, Fatah Central Committee Member, who nevertheless remains optimistic. “The reality on the ground, the demography on the ground, the geography on the ground, shows that a two-state solution is still possible today”.
However, Palestinian public opinion no longer reflects this official position. A recent poll shows that 65% of Palestinians no longer believe the two-state solution is viable due to ongoing settlement expansion. “The more people think the two-state solution is no longer viable, the more likely they it is that they will shift and support a one-state solution” explains Dr. Khalil Shikaki, Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
A few years ago, a minority of Palestinians would openly express support for the one-state solution. But today support is growing according to Radi Jarai, a Fatah dissident and Political Scientist at Al-Quds University. In 2013, together with members from other political factions, he created the ‘One Democratic State’ movement that advocates for the creation of a binational state. According to Jarai: “We are in a one-state solution since 1967, after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip”. Young people are key proponents of the binational state. Mainly because they are disillusioned with the concepts of state building and the peace process.
Will the peace process be relaunched after the Paris Conference? More than 60% of Palestinians believe otherwise.