Israeli settlements: Is the two-state solution dead?
The U.S. is now “implicitly endorsing a one-state solution” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said David Ignatius in The Washington Post. The State Department recently reversed a 41-year-old legal opinion that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are “inconsistent with international law.” The decision doesn’t change much on the ground. U.S. and international opposition have done little to stop the “inexorable advance” of settlements into the territory Israel seized from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. But it’s a heel turn for American foreign policy. Before Trump, every U.S. president sought “to broker negotiations for a Palestinian state,” with nine successive administrations promising to reverse Israel’s territorial acquisitions as part of an eventual deal. Now, by fiat, the U.S. is telling Palestinians to accept “something less than statehood.”
The White House hasn’t undermined the cause of peace, said David Harsanyi in NationalReview.com. If anything, the Trump administration has clarified “the contours of a realistic deal.” Many of the settlements have been in place for decades and have become more like cities. “They are never going to be bulldozed.” More to the point, “it has always been a mistake for the United States to treat disputed territories in the West Bank as occupied.” Israel cannot be “occupying” Palestinian territory because no Palestinian state existed in the first place. “Say what you will about Donald Trump’s mercurial foreign policy,” but his disdain for bureaucratic groupthink sometimes makes breakthroughs possible. It’s “about time everyone involved dealt with reality” in the Middle East.
A two-state solution isn’t dead, said Tom Rogan in WashingtonExaminer.com. All sides—American, Israeli, and Palestinian—have long acknowledged that any viable two-state solution will involve reciprocal land swaps that will leave some Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Trump, though, doesn’t care about solutions—only about what’s good for Trump, said Heather Hurlburt in NYMag.com. He is trying to strengthen his alliance with “Christian Zionist Evangelicals, and a small segment of American Jewish voters and donors.” Large majorities of Americans support Israel ceding some settlements to the Palestinians, and many support complete West Bank withdrawal. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be “settled by negotiation,” not dictates from Washington. “But that would entail putting national interest before political interest.” ■