The Big Picture brings together a range of PS commentaries to give readers a comprehensive understanding of topics in the news – and the deeper issues driving the news. The Big Question features concise contributor analysis and predictions on timely topics.
Is the Two-State Solution Back?
After more than a month of relentless bombardment and an escalating ground assault by Israel, Palestinians in Gaza are getting a brief respite, thanks to an agreement between Israel and Hamas for the release of at least 50 Israeli women and children held hostage in the enclave. But, unless a durable solution is found, the fighting will soon resume, and a dire humanitarian situation will deteriorate further.
The only way to avoid “eternal war,” former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt argues, is to “take decisive steps toward a two-state solution.” Such an effort faces “huge” obstacles, not least the “increase in support for violence among Palestinians who have grown frustrated to the point of despair” and “the inclusion of fundamentalist Jewish settlers in the current Israeli government.” The key to overcoming them is to “use the renewed prospect of a two-state solution to galvanize moderate forces on both sides.”
Raja Khalidi, Director-General of the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute, highlights another barrier to a two-state solution: “the creation of an independent Palestinian state requires a viable Palestinian economy,” which is practically “impossible” to imagine following the destruction of Gaza. “Even at this dark hour,” however, “there may still be a chance to forge a ‘real’ two-state deal,” because – thanks to the Palestinian economists and planners who have spent decades “preparing the economic foundations of a sovereign state of Palestine” – we already know what it must include.
Likewise, New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter points out that what currently seems diplomatically impossible should never be ruled out. In Europe, just six years after World War II, centuries-long enemies established the European Coal and Steel Community, which “would prevent them from forging weapons to be used against one another ever again.” This experience offers important lessons for supporters of the two-state solution, who should “start small” by cooperating on issues like water management and green energy, while engaging with “well-meaning and likeminded third parties.”