A Formal Funeral for the Two-State Solution

How the PA's Statehood Bid Sidelines Palestinians

The Palestinian Authority's bid to the United Nations for Palestinian statehood is, at least in theory, supposed to circumvent the failed peace process. But in two crucial respects, the ill-conceived gambit actually makes things worse, amplifying the flaws of the process it seeks to replace. First, it excludes the Palestinian people from the decision-making process. And second, it entirely disconnects the discourse about statehood from reality.

Most discussions of the UN bid pit Israel and the United States on one side, fiercely opposing it, and Palestinian officials and allied governments on the other. But this simplistic portrayal ignores the fact that among the Palestinian people themselves there is precious little support for the effort. The opposition, and there is a great deal of it, stems from three main sources: the vague bid could lead to unintended consequences; pursuing statehood above all else endangers equality and refugee rights; and there is no democratic mandate for the Palestinian Authority to act on behalf of Palestinians or to gamble with their rights and future.

Underscoring the lack of public support, numerous Palestinian civil society organizations and grassroots leaders, academics, and activists have been loudly criticizing the strategy. The Boycott National Committee (BNC) -- the steering group of the global Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel that has been endorsed by almost 200 Palestinian organizations -- warned in August that the UN bid could end up sidelining the PLO as the official representative of all Palestinians and in turn disenfranchise Palestinians inside Israel and the refugees in the diaspora. A widely disseminated legal opinion by the Oxford scholar Guy Goodwin-Gill underscored the point, arguing that the PLO could be displaced from the UN by a toothless and illusory "State of Palestine" that would, at most, nominally represent only Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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