Mohamad Torokman / REUTERS

Do Palestinians Still Support the Two-State Solution?

Why Israeli Settlements Are the Greatest Obstacle to Peace

It has been 25 years since the Oslo Accords envisioned a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but the fundamental challenges for Palestinians remain the same. Oslo required not only that Palestinians reconcile themselves to enormous sacrifice but that they trust Israelis to do the same. Moreover, the demands for sacrifice were far from equal. Palestinians were to permanently abandon claims to 78 percent of their homeland, while much less was asked of Israeli Jews, who would need to abandon the demand for just 22 percent of theirs.

Where the Oslo Accords were successful, it was mostly due to the bold leadership of Yasir Arafat, chair of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel. These leaders were willing to sign letters of mutual recognition in the final moments before signing the accords, which opened a large majority of Palestinians to the idea of relinquishing land claims in pursuit of peace.

Since that time, Israel’s unrelenting construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories—the heart of a future Palestinian state—has demonstrated to Palestinians that the other side is unwilling to hold up its end of the deal. One of Oslo’s greatest failures has been its inability to stop Israel’s settlement construction, causing Palestinians to doubt whether they have a viable partner for peace.

Israel’s unrelenting construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories has demonstrated to Palestinians that the other side is unwilling to hold up its end of the deal.

The Trust Deficit

Soon after the Oslo Accords were signed, on September 13, 1993, and for many years after that, Palestinian support for a two-state solution was very high, peaking at 80 percent. The agreement, and the peace process it set in motion, changed the psychological environment in Palestine. Along with confidence in diplomacy, it generated public optimism and reduced the appeal of violence and militancy, all the while providing legitimacy and public support to the newly created Palestinian Authority (PA), its leader, Arafat, and

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