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The West's 'two-state solution' illusion

Donald Forbes
February 22, 2024

The Israeli military juggernaut pounds its way south through Gaza sowing death and destruction among Palestinians, innocent or not, and still the West intones its mantra of a two state solution to the most intractable geopolitical problem of the modern era.

The East-West confrontations over Ukraine and Taiwan are also fraught with danger for world peace. But in the end, they are negotiable, if painfully for the side that loses most. How, realistically, do Israelis and Palestinians set aside decades of hatred and mutual bloodshed and live peacefully side by side on the same piece of land in any foreseeable future.

What is happening in Gaza is unique and cannot be compared with the other war in Ukraine which has a functioning army that grapples daily with the Russians. Gaza is being one-sidedly dismantled stone by stone and life by life with no comparable opposition from Islamist fanatics who boast that they revel in death, a concept we in the West cannot begin to understand. We accept that people die in wars but we do so reluctantly.

Israelis and Palestinians alike have explicitly and repeatedly repudiated the two state solution and if neither will agree to it, basic logic dictates that it is beyond the reach of diplomacy.

Israel, brutally awakened to its fundamental – and permanent - weakness by October 7, cannot accept the existence of a sovereign neighbour, ruled by Hamas, allied with Iran and Hezbollah and dedicated implacably to its destruction.

The Palestinians will not settle for a remnant of their former homeland; they want it all back, together with the expulsion of every last Jew.

Why then do the US and the Europeans continue to strive for an end in which they cannot believe themselves because it is so patently unattainable?

The truth would seem to be that the West's two state solution is an increasingly transparent device to avoid making a choice between Israel and the Islamic Middle East on whose oil our prosperity, indeed our survival, will depend for decades to come whatever the renewable energy fantasists say.

It's a choice between people like us and people who are not like us which our historically constructed philosophy of universality and compromise makes it impossible for us reconcile with our consciences.

The truth would seem to be that the West's two state solution is an increasingly transparent device to avoid making a choice between Israel and the Islamic Middle East Quote

In fact, although we shrink to admit it, a tacit choice was made from the outset in favour of Israel in an exercise of the well-known human capacity to compartmentalise morality the better to ignore what is inconvenient to personal interest. It's what lets us continue to eat meat while deploring cruelty to factory farmed animals.

The IDF has killed almost 30,000 Palestinians according to Hamas which hasn't distinguished between civilians and its fighters. The West has lamented the death toll, invoked the principle of proportionality and demanded restraint but has done nothing to obtain it.

President Biden in a moment of exasperation said Israel's reaction had been “over the top” but Blinken's frantic diplomacy has not inflected a single Israeli military operation or impeded it by denying the resupply of ammunition.

The Israelis say their every strike is designed to reduce civilian casualties but the stark reality is 30,000 dead and counting. The same IDF actions (rightly) prioritise its own soldiers' safety and their deaths have been kept to within hundreds as a result.

There is no question that Hamas deliberately sought this war and is doing everything to prolong it regardless of the lives of Palestinian civilians. At the same time, it cannot be denied that what is happening in Gaza looks like a turkey shoot and everyone knows it.

In the midst of this, the unanimous insistence of Western leaders that the outcome must be a two state solution looks like, and is in fact, hypocrisy.

There has been some moral clarity in the West's reaction to Russia's war against Ukraine such as defence of a rules based world order which struggles for survival despite rather than due to the UN. There has been none in the Gaza conflict because of the West's confused loyalties.

For the first time in the history of the Israeli-Arab wars, the West has not forced Israel to stop fighting while winning although it could do so by turning off the ammunition tap. Instead, Biden is struggling to increase aid to Israel. He's made his choice whatever he says publicly to appease the pro-Palestinian left. Blinken is merely going through the obligatory motions that maintain a charade of even-handedness.

What this means is that the West has given up its leverage over Israel and this could only have happened with the complicity of Arab states such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia whether they acknowledge it or not.

This is the reality that Hamas leaders have brought upon themselves but they have allies in Iran and Hezbollah to continue the conflict at which point the two state solution will join so much else in the dustbin of history.


Donald is a retired journalist who wrote for the Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, and Reuters. He was a chief correspondent in Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Donald now regularly writes for The Conservative Woman.

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