Israel has established diplomatic relations with a number of Arab countries that have never recognized it since its creation as a state in 1948.
The alliances of Sunni countries against Iran, with Israel at the center of these, have been strengthened and after the “Arab Spring” of a decade ago, Tunisian democracy survives with problems.
Social protests have been very strong this year in Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon, while civil wars are being fought in Libya and Yemen.
On the other hand, the Russian intervention in the complex Syrian conflict has allowed the survival of President Bashar al-Assad and made it clear that the United States is withdrawing from the region .
In this context, the Palestinian question, which for decades was at the center of Middle East politics, is displaced, and according to a large number of analysts the “two-state” solution is dead and buried, and the The idea that the only option is to promote a state with two nationalities has been relaunched by some experts.
Saudi Arabia, other Gulf monarchies and Egypt have indicated that supporting the creation of a Palestinian state, which coexists with Israel, is not a priority and that, furthermore, they do not see it as possible.
The Palestinians – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said – must accept peace offers from Israel and the United States “or shut up.”
And in January 2020, the Trump administration presented its plan for “peace with prosperity”, which was rejected by the Palestinian authorities for its pro-Israel bias.
In the course of 2020, Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would annex a third of the West Bank, a measure that he has delayed, apparently due to the chain of recognition of the State of Israel by Arab countries.
“The time has come to abandon the traditional two-state solution and focus on the goal of equal rights for Jews and Palestinians,” the prestigious American Jewish essayist Peter Beinart wrote in The New York Times in July .
“It is time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.”
It could be, he says, a single state comprising Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, or a confederation of two states.
For his part, Gideon Levy, a commentator for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, also considers “we must think and begin to believe in the unthinkable”, because “in any case there is no other alternative.
In 1948, the philosopher Hannah Arendt proposed a binational state with a confederation of Jews, Arabs and other minorities as an alternative to the partition of Palestine.
Among other analysts, the late Israeli politician and writer Uri Avnery raised a similar idea in 2013, as did the late Edward Said (Palestinian) and Tony Judt (British of Jewish origin).
Professor Virginia Tilley of the Human Science Research Council (South Africa) dedicated her book Palestine / Israel: a country , a State to propose this thesis.In Israeli political circles, especially on the right, there has been speculation in the last decade with various models of integration of the Palestinian population, but all would limit their rights or contemplate very long-term plans in which gradually, and after several generations, they have the right equal rights.
Peter Beinart’s proposal drew harsh criticism, among others, from Israeli Yossi Alpher.
For this expert in security and negotiations, the binational proposal is disconnected from the harsh conflictive reality of the Middle East, the extremist climate that exists in Israel, and the weakness of the Palestinian authorities.
In his view, it also shows the immense distance between liberal Zionist circles in the United States and what is really happening in Israel.
For Alpher, a binational state would not solve the fundamental contradiction, which has dragged on for a century, between two peoples with incompatible national aspirations.
On the contrary, it considers that violent confrontations between the most extremist groups on the two sides would escalate.
What is needed now, he says, is to oppose Israel continuing “on its way to disaster” with the annexation plan for the West Bank , a giant step that will lead “to a single Apartheid state.”
Other critics point out that in a binational state the two peoples would fight for demographic hegemony and that very few Israelis and almost no Palestinians living in Israel and the Palestinian territories are in favor of the proposal.
Palestinian expert in public opinion analysis Khalil Shikaki explained last June that the majority of Palestinians prefer the two-state solution over one.
However, the number of people who do not believe in the possibility of it being achieved is increasing.
At the same time, more young Palestinians “are ready to accept a state within the framework of a democratic and egalitarian system “, but the majority of the Jewish population is opposed to a solution in which the Palestinians have equal rights.
In 2014, the Parallel States Project was presented, supported by the Swedish government, which explores the possibility of having two state entities, one Palestinian and the other Israeli, that share the same territory and have similar economic, security and welfare policies for their citizens. citizens.
With the positions so strongly conflicting, and the narratives of each of the communities so different about themselves and others, the perspective of rights is the one that seems to prevail.
Yoav Peled of Tel Aviv University proposes that Palestinians have the same civil and political rights “as individuals, as well as national cultural autonomy, or collective rights” for them as a “national minority.”
The award-winning Israeli journalist Haggai Matar indicates that it is wrong to ask whether the solution is one or two states, because the essential question is how to end Israel’s colonial occupation of the occupied territories and that the rights of the Palestinians are respected.
Palestinian professor Rashid Khalidi (Columbia University) emphasizes that the conflict has a colonial character and that the main characteristic is unequal rights: “5 million Palestinians live under military rule in the Occupied Territories without rights, while half a million Israeli settlers they fully enjoy them. “
Palestinian society is physically fragmented between the population (2.16 million) living in the Israeli-occupied territories in the West Bank, in 167 separate areas, and another 2 million living in the isolated Gaza Strip.
There are also 5 million refugees from the wars of 1948 and 1967 distributed in various camps in the region.
The West Bank is governed by the delegitimized government of Mahmoud Abbas, dependent on Israel and international aid, and Gaza is governed by the political-military group Hamas, with support from Qatar, Turkey and Iran.
Israel occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six Day War.
Despite a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions condemning the taking of territory through force, Israel only withdrew from Gaza unilaterally in 2005.
Additionally, it has populated them with 463,353 settlers (mostly religious nationalists) in interconnected cities while controlling farmland and water sources, and maintaining a strong military presence, and another 300,000 Jewish settlers occupy East Jerusalem.
The 1993 Oslo Accord (and the 1995 Interim Accord) allowed the Palestinians to have a Self-Government Authority over fragments of the West Bank and Gaza.
From that situation it was assumed that the parties would advance to a permanent status that could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state in 22% of what was the Palestinian territory under British mandate until 1948.
But, according to analysts critical of Israel, almost all of the governments of this country put obstacles to the Palestinian demands in such a way that the attempts of post-Oslo negotiations failed.
These demands are the right of return for refugees from the wars of 1948 and 1967, sovereignty over East Jerusalem and its holy sites, the borders that the Palestinian state would have, the cessation of the colonization of the West Bank and Gaza while it was being negotiated, and have a defense system.
If Israel annexed the West Bank, it would greatly increase the number of the Palestinian population in its new territory.
The next step would be to grant or not citizenship, and the right to vote, to all Palestinians.
If it did, it would give them strong electoral weight . If it does not grant it, then it would not be a democratic state.
The idea of the founders of Israel was to create a Jewish and democratic state. With Palestinians without rights, or limited rights, it would be a state with racial discrimination, in the style of South African Apartheid.
Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, considers that to the extent that the colonization and subjugation of the Palestinian population is an irreversible fact , the question is not whether there should be a single state, but rather whether it already exists .
Therefore, the question is whether it will be an Apartheid regime or one that recognizes the equality of Palestinians before the Law.
A series of opinion polls conducted in 2019 showed that at least half of the Israeli public agree with the annexation, including 63% of voters on the right.
However, the majority oppose Palestinians having the same rights. A third of those surveyed also believe that they should be “transferred” to another site.
Rabbi Rabbi Aryeh Meir claimed in 2019 that the two-state solution, while imperfect, would ensure that Israel is Jewish, democratic and secure .
“The annexation will ultimately lead to a binational state, an Apartheid state, which would mean the destruction of the Zionist dream of a Jewish state.”
* Mariano Aguirre is an international issues analyst. Associate Member of Chatham House (London).