By Andrew Tucker, Director, thinc.
The so-called ‘Two-state Solution’ appears to be up for grabs. Basically, the Two-state Solution says that the Palestinians have a right to a state covering all of the so-called West Bank, including ‘East Jerusalem’ as their capital.
Years of failed negotiations have given way to the growing sentiment that the two-state solution is simply no longer feasible. ‘I am looking at two states and one state, and I like the one that both parties like,’ President Trump has indicated. In light of Trump’s knack for breaking with the past, his proposed ‘deal of the century’ is expected to depart from the existing two-state paradigm.
On Sunday, a joint statement was issued by the US and Bahrain to announce an upcoming ‘Peace and Prosperity’ conference, which will take place in Manama on 25 – 26 June next month. Here, the economic aspects of Trump’s long-awaited ‘deal of the century’ will be revealed. The initiative is described as ‘a pivotal opportunity to share ideas, discuss strategies and galvanize support for potential economic investment and initiatives… [to] offer Palestinians exciting new opportunities to realize their full potential.’
It is not yet known when the ‘political’ aspects of the U.S. plan will be presented. It is understood that the ‘deal of the century’ does not include recognition of Palestinian statehood or territorial sovereignty. When asked to endorse the idea of “demilitarized statehood” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself once proposed, Trump’s Adviser Jared Kushner recently said the plan avoids the term ‘state’ altogether: “If you say ‘two-states’ it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians, and we said, let’s just not say it.”
On Monday this week, the Palestinian leadership responded by restating their boycott of Trump’s peace efforts. The initiative is criticized as an attempt to buy Arab favor and legitimize the occupation. ‘The cabinet wasn’t consulted about the reported workshop, neither over the content, nor the outcome nor timing,’ a Palestinian official remarked. ‘Any solution to the conflict… must be political… and based on ending the occupation,’ he added. Any attempt at promoting peace based on economic normalization between the parties will therefore be rejected in advance. So, it appears that the Palestinians are planning to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The crumbling nature of the two-state paradigm is also evident in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement, shortly before the April 2019 elections, that he intends to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Nevertheless, in response hereto, a group of former European leaders published an open letter calling on the EU to reject the ‘Trump plan’ unless it backs a two-state solution, claiming that the EU’s policy on two states is required by international law.
thinc. is actively working on issues surrounding the two-state solution. The questions considered are the following: Why is the two-state solution paradigm not working? What does international law say about the two-state solution? And what alternative policy considerations are available within the framework of international law?
In December 2018 thinc. held a closed-door seminar in the Dutch Parliament for a number of Members of Parliament in which we brought together a team of experts to look into the strategic, legal and historical aspects of the two-state solution. In January 2019 we held a 2-day conference in the Parliament in Prague, Czech Republic, examining the legal and strategic significance of Jerusalem, and the future of the two-state solution against the background of the current EU policy. Reports on both events are currently being prepared and will be published in the coming months.