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The future of Israel-Palestine: a one-state reality in the making

Khalil Shikaki, 14 May 2012

With no agreement on a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in sight, one-state dynamics are gaining momentum – a development that will be difficult to reverse or even contain. In the medium and long term, no one benefits from such a development. Indeed, all might lose: an ugly one-state dynamic has no happy ending, and such a solution is rejected by Palestinians and Israelis alike. Instead, the emerging one-state reality increases the potential for various kinds of conflicts and contradictory impulses. The international community too finds itself unprepared and perhaps unwilling to confront this emerging reality, but in doing so it imperils the prospects for peace in the region – the exact thing it seeks to promote. 

While strong majorities of Palestinians and Israelis support the two-state solution, they find themselves living with it; the Israelis comfortably, the Palestinians with a great deal of discomfort. The international community defines the two-state solution as a cornerstone of its Middle East policy, but it too contributes to sustaining the one-state reality by failing to challenge Israeli settlement policy. Palestinians oppose a resort to violence as a means of increasing the costs of occupation; they support non-violence, but take no part in it; and they support Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, but complain very little while disunity entrenches itself. They recognise fully that the two-state solution is dead or dying, but refuse to lend support to dissolving the Palestinian Authority (PA) or to see a one-state solution as an alternative worth fighting for. They support going to the United Nations for statehood, but turn a blind eye to the PA's foot dragging. Israelis, on the other hand, worry little about the emerging reality, as other things, such as Iran, top their agenda. A right-wing government views progress with the Palestinians as a threat to its stability.

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