For nearly three decades, the so-called two-state solution has dominated discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the idea of two states for two peoples in the territory both occupy was always an illusion, and in recent years, reality has set in. The two-state solution is dead. And good riddance: it never offered a realistic path forward. The time has come for all interested parties to instead consider the only alternative with any chance of delivering lasting peace: equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in a single shared state.
It has been possible to see this moment coming for quite a while. As he tried to rescue what had become known as “the peace process,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that the two-state solution had one to two years left before it would no longer be viable. That was six years ago. Resolution 2334, which the UN Security Council passed with U.S. consent in late 2016, called for “salvaging the two-state solution” by demanding a number of steps, including an immediate end to Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories. That was three years ago. And since then, Israel has continued to build and expand settlements.
The arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House put the final nail in the coffin. “I am looking at two-state, and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump explained in February 2017. Policy wonks and seasoned diplomats rolled their eyes at the reality-TV celebrity turned commander in chief describing the options as if they were dishes on a buffet table. But the remark indicated a genuine shift: since the current phase of the peace process began in the early 1990s, no U.S. president had ever before publicly suggested accepting a single state. What Trump had in mind has become clear in the years that have followed, as he and his team have approved a right-wing Israeli wish list aimed at a one-state outcome—but one
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