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Resuscitating the Two-State Solution

The two-state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict has become a meaningless phrase. The longer illegal settlement activity in the occupied territories is allowed to proceed, the less reason there is to take seriously those – beginning with US policymakers – who continue to profess their commitment to it.

JERUSALEM – For decades, the defining conflict of the Middle East has revolved around a single piece of diplomatic jargon: the “two-state solution.” Originally, this term referred to a concrete idea – the formation of a sovereign independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. But for most politicians, it has long since become an empty cliché, uttered out of habit, and without much interest in seeing it through.

Consider US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the State Department readout, Blinken “stressed the US commitment to improving the quality of life of the Palestinian people in tangible ways and the [Biden] Administration’s support for a negotiated two-state solution.”

Such talk is nothing new. While the United States has formally recognized the state of Israel since 1948, it has yet to recognize the state of Palestine in accordance with the United Nations partition plan. Moreover, both territories that the original UN resolution set aside for an Arab state are now occupied by Israel. While the US and most of the rest of the world have called on Israel to end its military rule over millions of Palestinians, they have done little to change the status quo. Even though Palestine has been recognized as a non-member state by the UN and formally recognized by 139 UN member states, the US, the European Union, Japan, and Australia still have not taken this critical step.