At least 72 countries are set to meet on Sunday in Paris for the most recent effort in reaching a two-state solution in Palestine and Israel, neither of which are expected to be represented at the meeting.
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly criticized the conference during talks with the Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, where he said the Paris initiative was “rigged by the Palestinians with French auspices to adopt additional anti-Israel stances.”
However, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, also on Thursday, reiterated his support for future negotiations of a new two-state solution.
In a press release, the PM’s office said it believed “only a negotiated two-state-solution will lead to an end of occupation and an agreement on all final status issues.”
But Hamdallah’s sentiment does not seem to be echoed on the Palestinian street, where confidence in the two-state solution has taken a drastic hit.
Issa Amro, head of Youth Against Settlements, a Palestinian-led organization in Hebron, told Mondoweiss that most Palestinians feel disenfranchised by the continuous cycle of negotiation attempts.
“The majority of the Palestinians don’t have any faith in the Paris Peace conference because no matter what, the conference won’t force Israel to fulfill its obligations to international law or human rights treaties,” Amro said.
He added that any attempts at negotiating a solution at the moment are futile because in his opinion, as Israel is not interested in ending the occupation in the near future.
“Israel doesn’t want one-state, two-state, or any other solution right now, so the first step, before any negotiations, should be to hold Israel accountable for its behavior,” he said.
Ramzi Baroud, a Palestinian analyst and author, also told Mondoweiss that the political discussion surrounding the two-state solution was far from the on-the-ground reality of today’s Palestine, and that is wasn’t just the Israeli government Palestinians feel disenfranchised by.
“Palestinians have progressively been losing faith in the two-state solution for some time now. That loss of faith is going hand-in-hand with the growth of Israeli settlements, and the loss of legitimacy of the Palestinian leadership among ordinary people,” Baroud said.
According to Baroud, Israel, the US and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have “labored to give an impression that they are working jointly to reach a peace agreement,” but in reality, all three parties have no interest in a long-term solution, he said.
In September, a year after the start of the most recent Palestinian uprising, a poll from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey research found that 56 percent of Palestinians had lost hope in any two-state solution. In just three months, the same poll found that number had increased to 65 percent.
“That trio is no longer able to uphold their make-believe ‘peace process’ anymore,” Baroud said. “The US-Israeli rift widened, and the PA is busy with its own factional fight. With Donald Trump as the new US President, the entire ‘peace process’ sham is rapidly collapsing. In view of this, and of the reality on the ground, most Palestinians now realize that a two-state solution will not take place, not now, or ever.”
Renewed discussion over the two-state solution was sparked last December, after a speech presented by US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington D.C.. The speech was presented just days after the US abstained from a UN vote to halt all Israeli settlement activity — a main reason Israel has sought to delegitimize the Paris conference.
During his speech, Kerry said the two-state solution for peace between Israel and Palestine was “in jeopardy.”
“The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people,” Kerry said.
Ahmad Lahham, Media and Advocacy officer of BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights told Mondoweiss that the political discussions around a two-state solution or any other attempt at negotiations was premature.
“We cannot have a political discussion about one or two states as long as the rights of the Palestinian people are not realized,” Lahham said. “The focus should be on bringing justice and the recognition of the fundamental rights of Palestinians, including the right of return and self-determination.”
“Political decisions cannot be made as long as fundamental rights are violated on a daily basis. Changing this state of affairs represents a matter of great urgency and it can only be done through the application of concerted pressure on Israel by the international community through all available channels,” he continued.
“These joint efforts should be based on identifying the root causes of the conflict and adopting and supporting rights-based durable solutions as a long-term strategy,” regardless of which long-term solution comes to pass.