Commentary Magazine


The End of the Two-State Solution?

Over the past few weeks, conventional wisdom has dictated that the current fighting in Gaza has significantly undermined chances for a two-state solution–whether Israel wins or loses.  In today’s New York Times, Michael Slackman presents the latest version of this doomsday thesis, absurdly claiming that Egypt and Jordan fear that they will be forced to absorb Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.

Naturally, Slackman substantiates this position through his standard strategy: interviewing the few (and, in this case, very few) English-speaking Arab “experts” who agree with him.  In turn, Slackman ignores some painfully obvious counterarguments: such as the fact that the current fighting is in Gaza, and that West Bank Palestinian institutions haven’t been affected; or that Israel isn’t actually trying “to push Palestinians from the West Bank” into Jordan, despite supposed Jordanian worries; or that the “withering criticism” that Egypt has faced hasn’t driven it towards the Iranian position on peace with Israel (actually, quite to the contrary).  Meanwhile, Slackman buries another inconvenient tidbit: Egypt has rejected international monitors for the Gaza-Egyptian border, which suggests that it prefers–rather than “fears”–an active role in securing Gaza.

Yet even without Slackman’s lazy pseudo-journalism, the notion that the two-state solution is “slipping away” on account of the current Gaza war is totally baseless.  Actually, there are two possibilities.  On one hand, Israeli success vis-à-vis Hamas might deal a serious blow to Islamists, thereby empowering Palestinian moderates who recognize the benefits of peace with Israel.  Indeed, a two-state solution is totally impossible with Hamas violently empowered–at the very least, Israeli success in the current war would preserve (if not advance) hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace.  On the other hand, the peace process might have been a bankrupt enterprise long before the current fighting in Gaza began–and perhaps long before Hamas ever controlled Gaza in the first place.

Either way, it’s hard to see how a two-state solution had a better chance of success immediately prior to the current fighting, when–aside from refusing to recognize Israel–Hamas refused to even extend a short-term truce and instead renewed its rocket firings.  Slackman should know better.  Regrettably, he never does.