For years, Israeli officials have insisted that reports of the death of the two-state solution are greatly exaggerated, and that the option of a Palestinian state is still alive, despite ongoing settlement expansions.
Now, many proponents of a two-state solution are worried that Israel’s planned unilateral annexation of large parts of the West Bank would bury that possibility once and for all. Advocates of an Israeli annexation, on the other hand, say the move, if carried out in accordance to the US peace plan, would actually advance a “realistic two-state solution.”
Either way, an Israeli annexation as envisioned by the deal of the century is likely to erode the international consensus behind the two-state paradigm, and may cause the world to start backing the idea of a unitary state in which Israelis and Palestinians enjoy equal rights.
“Annexation will end the debate about Israel’s borders. It will also start a debate on a one-state outcome,” posited Evan Gottesman, the associate director of policy and communications at the Israel Policy Forum, a dovish think tank based in the US, on Wednesday.
How one assesses the fallout of a possible annexation, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to advance this summer, depends to a large extent on one’s politics: right-wingers dreaming of Greater Israel are convinced that the sky will not fall, while doves in favor of territorial concessions and Palestinian statehood argue that it would the beginning of the end of the Zionist project.
Advocates of annexation predict very little will change. An assertive Israel, they argue, can easily weather the international opprobrium, which they expect to fade away quickly just like the world eventually forgot about Israel’s annexations of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
One counterargument is that the currently envisioned annexation — which the Israeli government agreed would only occur in full coordination with the US administration and along the lines of President Donald Trump’s peace proposal — would apply Israeli sovereignty to about 30 percent of the West Bank
The rest remains reserved for a future Palestinian state — hence, in this thesis, annexation in the framework of the plan would not presage the end of the two-state solution but rather be a step toward a “realistic two-state solution.” Indeed, the so-called deal of the century mentions the term “two-state solution” a whopping 86 times.
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