June 2009 was when Prime Minister Netanyahu conceded, for the first time in his political career, the inevitability of a Palestinian state. Seventeen months later, it is increasingly possible that such a state is unlikely.
Considering the demands Netanyahu has made in exchange for an extension of the settlement freeze – required by the Palestinians for the continuation of talks – as well as the consequences of such a freeze, this round of talks is on life support. A recent poll showed that over half of Palestinians would not favor the continuation of talks without an extension of the freeze, meaning it is likely that even US President Obama ill be unlikely to convince the two sides to come back together.
In light of the looming failure, many are preparing themselves for a state of reality in which two independent states are impossible. Recently, in discussing possible options to the failure of talks, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha’ath has admitted that the dissolution of the PA is a possible response, thus removing Israel’s only negotiating partner for two states. Likewise the poll mentioned above revealed that over a third of Palestinians expected such an outcome if the current talks failed.
[tweetmeme] Internationally, those observing the situation are slowly beginning to recognize the sway of the tide towards bi-nationalism. During his visit to Israel and Palestine – in which he met with Palestinian resistance leaders – British Foreign Minister William Hague warned that the possibility of two-states was slipping away. “I am very worried that the window of opportunity is closing. There is real urgency to that,” said Hague.
Princeton Professor Richard Falk – who has served on the OHCHR inquiry commission for the Palestinian territories and is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories – has openly come out in favor of a bi-national democratic state in all of mandate Palestine:
My judgment, coinciding with the orientation and the various assertions of the Houston Declaration, is that the genuine search for a just peace at this stage depends on building a strong political and moral consensus in favor of a one-state solution: the state being of secular character, equal to all people living within its borders, comprising the whole of the territory that was constituted by historic Palestine, and bringing human rights and democracy and dignity to both of these embattled peoples.
Even Palestinian-Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi has said that a two-state solution is “impossible,” preferring one democratic or bi-national state instead:
“The reality goes more toward the one state solution,” Zoabi said, “whether a democratic one-state solution, or a binational one-state solution…
“We are struggling for a normal state, which is a state for all of its citizens, [in] which the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews can have full equality. I recognize religious, cultural and national group rights for the Israelis, but inside a democratic and neutral state.”
Perhaps there is still hope that Israel and the Palestinian Authority can work out a solution to this impasse, but – as noted by Tom in a comment on this site – any two state solution is bound to disappoint many (particularly in regards to the right of return). Seventeen months after Netanyahu historically declared the right of Palestinians to have an independent state, many Palestinians are beginning to give up on such a notion. With such disinterest in the continuation of talks and the resumption of mass building in illegal settlements, it seems as though we will hear of many more people trading away the two-state solution for a more accurate reading of the realities here.