The prior concensus of what a two-state solution/approach would have looked like, is summarized by Obama’s statements in 2009, while he was committed to putting his personal political capital and the weight of US power and prestige into cementing completion of the deal that then Israeli prime minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority president Abbas started and nearly completed.
That is that based on the pre-1967 war armistice lines (formed in 1949), equal and consented land swaps would be treatied to comprise a permanent and consented border between viable and safe Israel and viable Palestine.
Unstated assumptions in that concensus included that the settlement blocs that were close to Israel proper would likely be incorporated into sovereign Israel and any protruding edges of otherwise consented settlement blocs and the settlement blocs deep within the West Bank (likely including the Jordan Valley settlements) would be incorporated into sovereign Palestine, and the consented assumption is that they would be required to be evacuated.
The settlement bloc of Maale Adumin was a source of contention. It protruded into the West Bank, creating a “waist” similar to the waist for Israel slightly further north.
There is a difference between the two “waists” though. Although there are potential staging areas for militants to cut off Israel at it’s waist, even in the six day and 1973 war, that was not undertaken or probably even conceived militarily. The Maale Adumin “waist” though does threaten to isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. The announcement of the settlement construction in the E-1 area (extending the Maale Adumin settlement bloc and connecting Maale Adumin to Israeli annexed and developed parts of East Jerusalem), did not threaten to completely sever Arab East Jerusalem from the West Bank, as was fairly widely reported, but would make access considerably more inconvenient and militarily exposed. A difficult location for a capital.
The assumed requirement for any of the settlements to be prospectively evacuated is inherent in all of the assumptions that I’ve read, from left and right. The left asserts that the permanence of the settlements’ residents themselves and unwillingness of the Israeli society to remove them, makes a two-state solution impossible, dead. The right site the demand that they be evacuated as reason why they can’t consider undertaking serious negotiation at this point. The numbers prospectively slated to be evacuated are either up to 20,000 in remote outposts, up to 100,000 in the far-flung settlements, up to 350,000 in the non-suburb settlements not so far-flung, or up to 650,000 of all east of the green line.
In contrast, prime minister Fayyad offered an alternative. That was to allow the settlers to remain in Palestine (with whatever border) but renounce Israeli citizenship, and adopt Palestinian. Settlers themselves or the Israeli state would then compensate either individuals or the Palestinian state or parallel land trust agencies for the value of previous extra-legal appropriations, and forego the exclusively Jewish permission to reside in the settlements. The proposal puts an end to the nature of the settlements as Israeli state sponsorship of state expansion.
In interviews this past week, Fayyad further stated his regret that the US had conspicuously used the language of “swaps”, as that led to Israeli liberal hopes that the protruding settlements could be part of Israel (they all protrude some), comprising a common gerrymandered pattern of border, rather than a more rational contiguous region, that accommodated a Jewish minority, in similar scale to the Arab minority in Israel.
Abbas rejects the Fayyad approach of allowing settlers to remain in Palestine, instead insisting on forced removal, or very conditional application for Palestinian citizenship.
From this impasse, numerous “single-state” proposals are being floated from sometimes odd sources. The Israeli proposal comes from Moshe Arens (former likud defense minister), in which the West Bank would be annexed, all residents would be granted citizenship, comprising a 61-39 Jewish demographic majority, with Gaza entirely excluded, presumed to form an independent state. Others from the left include full establishment of one-person one-vote including Gaza, and also including the right of return for diaspora Palestinians to anywhere in the river-to-sea area. Including Gaza would likely comprise a 51-49 Arab majority. Including the right of return, assuming that in a single state, it would be highly exercised (unlike to the likely exercise to a Zionist state), would result in a 60-40 Arab majority, or greater.
There is no consensus for any of these options. And, as there are so many options, with so many affected and primarily distrustful of the other, to sort through them would either take dangerous and bold leadership on partners’ parts, or just won’t happen.
There is a significant danger that aggressions will escalate, that sequences of confrontations would add up to war. There are so many possible scenarios that prediction is difficult, but the range includes war with Iran and Hezbollah, the spread of a third violent intifada into the West Bank, cruel forms of BDS, conflict and possible war with Egypt, civil war in Jordan, WMD war with Syria. Lot’s of horror stories.
Other more benign possibilities include entirely non-violent third intifada in the West Bank, deferral of Hamas to PA authority with a new election and shared government, continued Egyptian role as mediator.
The consequences of increased violence in the West Bank is the likud right’s dream, resulting then in likely annexation of Area C (all of the settlement blocs and Jordan Valley), Israeli removal from areas under Palestinian control, permanently separating West Bank from Gaza, and the West Bank from East Jerusalem, landlocked and surrounded by only Israel (like the Bantustans). Likud regards that as survivable, resulting in temporary isolation from Europe and US, but ultimately creating a new fact on the ground, analagous to a new accepted armistice line.
Faced with West Bank violence, and the complex of “we’re unwilling to accommodate the settlers”, they will consider annexation of Area C their only choice.
My own sense is that the Fayyad proposal is the only two-approach remaining, and that Abbas should adopt it, and the Israeli and western left should adopt it.
As the communities do not think of themselves as one nation, and the various dissenting groups pursuing a single state are sadly NOT undertaking the kind of integration and persuasion efforts that would be necessary for it to be viable and desirable if remotely possible at all, that the two-state approach remains the only one that could be characterized as democratic. All others result in imposition on the governed, rather than consent of the governed. A single state solution would then be very unstable, again with dangerous prospects for all communities should violence result.
(At the same time, the one state accommodating a plebiscite after passage, might be the fastest path to a two-state solution, as the two state solution achieved five years ago, might have been the fastest path to a single state – following calm, then increased transit, then open transit and trade, then multi-national federation.)
A way forward?