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9 February 2017

The legislative end to the two-state solution

By: Daoud Kuttab
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Regardless of whether the Israeli high court will allow or strike down the latest Israeli law on settlements, the idea of the two-state solution has been legislatively rejected.
For years, anyone looking at the map of the 200 plus exclusively Jewish settlements filling out the Palestinian territories could see that the region was moving away from a peace settlement.
The conventional wisdom was that since Zionism was about creating a Jewish state, such a state cannot be both Jewish and democratic while the settlement enterprise was allowed to grow unchecked.
As new settlements were coming up throughout the occupied West Bank, Israeli officials kept assuring the world that they were supporting the two-state solution.
The fact that many of the new settlements built outside the major blocks that were close to the Green line meant that, with small land swaps, a Palestinian state was possible, though difficult.
The fact that the Israeli government was not legally approving these particular “outposts” allowed Israel to get away with its lie that it supports an eventual negotiated agreement.
But even John Kerry, the US secretary of state, was not convinced of it, telling the US Congress that when new Israeli settlements were announced in April 2014, the direct Palestinian-Israeli talks “went poof”.
Under Barack Obama, the cunning Israelis were consistently saying that the new “outposts” had not been approved by the Israeli government, which was true. But they were allowed to exist, get water, electricity, Internet connection as well as military protection.
In Obama’s absence, the Israeli legislature, with thin majority of 60 votes, was able to pass a law that retroactively legalised all the outposts that the Netanyahu government had repeatedly said were not legal and were not approved by the Israeli government.
The decision of the Israeli Knesset should finally convince anyone who was buying the Israeli claims that it was serious about peace and about the two-state solution.
Netanyahu, who was away in London when the vote was taken, might claim that he did not vote for it, although his entire coalition, without exception, cast their vote in favour.
Ironically, while in London, Netanyahu three times refused to answer questions by the press if he was still supportive of the two-state solution.
Clearly the charade is over and therefore there is no longer reason to defend what has been a lie all along.
Palestinian negotiators who drive by daily and see the massive settlements throughout what they were hoping to be their independent state, gave up on the process that was leading nowhere with the Israeli government.
In fact, Netanyahu already let it be known in Israel what he sees as happening. He is now supportive of a much smaller state of Palestine, probably without the main features of sovereignty.
After Palestinians had accepted the idea of a Palestinian state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine, the Israeli leader is now trying to reduce this to an even smaller percentage and without the crucial right of controlling land, air, water and border crossings.
Netanyahu and his team are now betting on Donald Trump.
Netanyahu, the used furniture salesman, will be making a sales pitch to keep the settlement enterprise while pretending to be interested in peace.
While Palestinians are unhappy with the latest Israeli Knesset decision, they feel vindicated. For years, Palestinians have said that the two-state solution was being killed by illegal Jewish settlements.
Now Israel’s highest legislative body voted on killing the two-state solution by legalising settlements that are spread throughout the land of the eventual state of Palestine.
For Palestinians believing that the two-state solution was never viable and was a waste of political effort, the Israeli Knesset decision also makes the future struggle clear.
From now on, Palestinians are going to focus their attention on the clear apartheid situation that is developing now and the absence of equality with Israeli Jews in political rights throughout the area of Israel and Palestine.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net

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