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Why the two-state solution is a recipe for bloodshed


Highlights: Why the two-state solution is a recipe for bloodshed. Until now, the separation of multi-ethnic areas has always been accompanied by serious crimes. Alternative models are also difficult to implement - but Israelis and Palestinians deserve to find a real solution. The US recipe for Israeli-Palestinian peace risks a wave of inter-ethnic violence on a scale not seen in a long time. The demand for a two- state solution is naive and should be “buried,” comments political scientist Manlio Graziano.

As of: February 12, 2024, 7:43 a.m

From: Foreign Policy




The US recipe for Israeli-Palestinian peace risks a wave of inter-ethnic violence on a scale not seen in a long time.

  • The demand for a two-state solution is naive and should be “buried,” comments political scientist Manlio Graziano.

  • His argument: Until now, the separation of multi-ethnic areas has always been accompanied by serious crimes.

  • Alternative models are also difficult to implement - but Israelis and Palestinians deserve to find a real solution.

  • This article is available for the first time in German - it was first published by

    Foreign Policy

    magazine on February 5, 2024 .

Washington, DC - Since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the leaders of major and middle powers not directly involved in the armed conflict have repeatedly stated that the only way out is to create two states - one for the Israelis and one for the Palestinians.

US President Joe Biden has made this idea the mantra of his strained relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu;

leaders around the world, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman , they picked up.

Netanyahu's clear no to the two-state solution has been in effect since the first Oslo agreement

This chorus was (and is) so unanimous that Netanyahu's explicit rejection of the two-state solution last month sparked widespread expressions of apparent surprise and even outrage.

However, such reactions are surprising on their part: one could accuse the Israeli prime minister of various wrongdoings, but no one can accuse him of inconsistency regarding a position that he has consistently advocated since the signing of the first Oslo Accords in 1993.

Israel and the Palestinian territories are already separated by a fence.

A two-state solution could hardly change that.

© IMAGO / Pond5 Images/own collage

At the time, the Israeli parliament narrowly approved the Oslo Accords after a bitter debate and faced outbreaks of violence, the most famous victim of which was Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in 1995.

However, the undeniable sign of the lack of political will to create two states was the exponential increase in settlement in the West Bank: more than three quarters of today's settlers have come there since the Oslo Accords and have occupied Areas A and B (those owned by Palestinians inhabited and partly controlled by the Palestinian Authority) gradually reduced to a shrinking archipelago of enclaves surrounded by the sea of ​​Area C (under exclusive Israeli control and off-limits to Palestinians).

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Israel and Palestine: Were two states ever a solution?

Meanwhile, none of the Arab and Muslim countries that had built their legitimacy through supposed support of the Palestinian cause since 1948 could afford to see that cause disappear.

In short, the so-called two-state solution did not die because of a failed attempt to implement it;

she was a stillborn.

And it was never a solution.

Therefore, the unanimity with which world leaders today insist on reviving it is remarkable.

When major and middle powers demonstrate unanimity, it is usually because they either have little (or no) interest in doing something or are powerless: they are therefore free to make principled proposals that , even if they are impractical, have the advantage of being simple, understandable and sensible.

US President Joe Biden takes a break during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

© Miriam Alster/AP/dpa

In this case, global and regional powers have enormous interests at stake—as demonstrated by the disruption of shipping in the Red Sea and the growing threat of a major regional war—suggesting that they simply do not know what else to do .

USA “driven into a corner”: China and Russia want to capitalize on the Middle East conflict

The United States appears to be cornered and unable to force Israel to back down;

China and Russia, with varying degrees of commitment and different interests, appear to be capitalizing on the situation by sticking a knife in the US's wound;

local supporters of the Palestinian cause want the cause to continue;

and Europe, including Britain, has no say, having been left out of the equation since the Oslo Accords.

The undeniable reality is that the more powerless Washington appears, the longer the conflict will drag on, and this represents a global danger that could lead to more international disorder.

In this context, the incessant invocation of the two-state solution is alarming for two reasons: first, because the two-state hypothesis, triumphantly introduced by the United States more than three decades ago, has long been considered dead and buried, and exhumation Her body now highlights the inability of world leaders to propose - and enforce - a credible response.

Second, and far more worrying, the two-state solution, if ever implemented, would certainly lead to a new Nakba or "catastrophe" that would make the Nakba of 1948 and today seem insignificant in comparison.

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This time it would be a catastrophe not only for the Palestinians, but also for the Israelis and for the entire Middle East.

History gives us eloquent - and bloody - examples to prove this.

The nation's romantic dream almost always ended in a nightmare

Since nationality became a political goal in the 19th century, the romantic dream has almost always turned into a nightmare characterized by forced assimilation or ethnic cleansing.

Almost always, state apparatuses, private militias or even willing and improvised executioners took on this process.

From Russian Jews starting in 1881 to the Rohingya in Myanmar in 2017, the belief that “others” with a different language or religion have no right to live on “our” land has left a long, growing trail of blood , before it has even curdled.

A group of the Rohingya Muslim minority in 2022 after escaping from a Malaysian camp.

They also became victims of displacement in the course of Myanmar's nation-state formation.

© Uncredited/Polis Diraja Malaysia/AP/dpa

Although there have been cases in which the division of two communities into separate states was the result of a conscious political decision, hardly any of them can be equated with the current situation between Palestinians and Israelis.

This is mainly because such decisions were almost always made in situations where ethnic cleansing had already occurred, either fully (as in Cyprus in 1974 and Kosovo in 1999) or partially (as in the cases of Greece and Turkey in 1922). .

Partition of multi-ethnic British India ended in carnage on a colossal scale

The only comparable case to the scenario that many want for Israelis and Palestinians today is the partition of India.

The short-sighted British decision to separate Muslims and Hindus in 1947 shows that planning to create two contiguous states for populations that had lived side by side for decades or centuries inevitably leads to a bloodbath of colossal proportions.

As Indian Prime Minister, the ethno-nationalist Narendra Modi continues to fuel the conflict with Pakistan and anti-Muslim racism in the country.

© Sergei Bobylev/Pool Sputnik Kremlin/AP/dpa

The number of people slaughtered or displaced during the creation of the Indian Union and Pakistan is literally immeasurable.

After the sudden partition of the Punjab - a relatively linguistically homogeneous region but home to four major religions - between India and Pakistan, some 6.5 million Muslims and 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs were displaced, and in an inter-communal slaughter it is estimated between 500,000 (according to the governor of the province) and 800,000 people (according to estimates from the British High Commissioner in Karachi) killed out of a total population of less than 35 million people.

The number of victims of the partition of India and Pakistan has not yet been recorded - both states are mortal enemies to this day

Between 20,000 and 25,000 Muslims were killed in Delhi, mostly by Hindu and Sikh refugees fleeing Pakistan, and the proportion of Muslims in the population fell from a third in 1941 to 5 percent in 1951. The total number Murders, rapes and other violent attacks or refugees forced to leave their homes have never been recorded because neither Indians nor Pakistanis want to admit that their countries were born out of a bloodbath, let alone accept their own responsibility for it acknowledge this slaughter.

Apart from the immense humanitarian catastrophe, the fall of the 1947 Partition is also a foretaste of the inevitable long-term fate that awaits two states separated by a bloody border: for three quarters of a century, India and Pakistan have maintained an enmity marked by regular clashes, terrorist attacks and at least is interrupted by four official wars and is exploited and exacerbated by the great powers for their own games on the international chessboard.

Conditions in the Middle East have become even more dangerous due to the war and terror of the past decades

And if a two-state solution were to be adopted to formally establish the State of Palestine, it could have even more serious consequences than in the case of India.

In India, as in the Middle East today, there was not such a long history of hostility and even mutual hatred, nurtured for decades and fueled by expulsion, deportation, humiliation, racism, revenge, indiscriminate acts of terror and shameless falsification of history, all multiplied by the exploitation of tensions by local and international powers and the growing internal tribalism within the two camps.

Although there was great hope for peace in the 1990s with the Oslo Accords, the situation had become massively heated after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

In 2000 the second Intifada occurred, the violent uprising of Palestinians with street battles.

The second intifada lasted until 2005. © Imago/UPI Photo

When political tensions erupted in Dhaka, Bangladesh, recalls Amartya Sen, then a teenager, peaceful citizens who had lived in the same neighborhoods and buildings for years, visiting and doing favors to one another, discovered that they were now exclusively Hindus or Hindus Muslims were, and were turning into, "committed thugs" who murdered each other "in the name of what they each called 'our people,'" he writes in his book Identity and Violence.

For 75 years, a climate conducive to assassinations in the name of what the murderers call “our people” has been created and practiced in the Middle East.

The horrors of the last few months have, in a way, acted as a catalyst for this entire story and shattered the remaining taboos: from the pogrom on October 7, 2023, whose brutality was reminiscent of the German Kristallnacht of 1938, to Israel's indiscriminate retaliation against the people in Gaza;

from the increasingly explicit proclamations of an exclusive alleged divine right of Jews to the entire land to the resurgence of Palestinian demands for the expulsion of all Jews from the region.

Idea of ​​a peaceful two-state solution “outrageous cynicism” or “expression of ignorance”

It would be naive, to say the least, to hope that in such a climate Arabs with Israeli citizenship could remain peacefully in an ethnically pure Israel and Jewish settlers peacefully in an ethnically pure West Bank.

Furthermore, the density of Israel's presence in the West Bank and the military protection afforded to settlers leave no doubt as to the frightening proportions an intercommunal bloodbath could reach.

The peaceful coexistence of two states that emerged in such a sea of ​​blood would be unimaginable, and Israel would no longer be the “safe haven” for the Jews of the world that the fathers of Zionism dreamed of.

Israeli soldiers grapple with Jewish settlers from the nearby settlement of Einav as they try to storm the city of Deir Sharaf in Nablus governorate in the occupied West Bank on November 2, 2023 © JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP

The claim that a partition of Israel and Palestine today could provide a model for peaceful population exchange is either brazen cynicism or, more simply put, a blatant expression of ignorance: not only because the byproduct of past partitions has been the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people, but also because the population exchange itself led to the deaths of numerous refugees.

The formation of nation states usually led to “ethnic self-mutilation” – a Hobbesian state of nature threatens

Beyond the number of deaths and destruction, it should not be forgotten that ethnic cleansing always impoverished the countries affected and deprived them of irreplaceable human resources.

The expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain around the 16th century sparked a long-lasting economic crisis that some believe was linked to the country's subsequent decline.

During the formation of the so-called nation-states, such cases of ethnic self-mutilation became almost commonplace.

Armenians, Greeks and Jews - all pillars of the Ottoman Empire for centuries - were almost completely expelled from Turkish territory between 1915 and 1922, as was the Muslim population in the Balkans between 1878 and 1913. After 1945, 13 million Germans from Central and Eastern Europe expelled - all under the false idea of ​​founding supposed nation states.

The tragedy in which Israelis and Palestinians find themselves today is compounded by the fact that the only solution proposed by external actors would only make their situation worse and plunge them into what philosopher Thomas Hobbes called the “state of nature.” called, that is, a permanent “war of everyone against everyone”.

Confederation or one-state solution hardly feasible - two-state solution should be buried

It remains a mystery why other possible solutions, which do exist, are neither explored nor considered.

Certainly none of these alternatives - from confederations to one-state models - are easy to implement: all are extremely difficult, require a long-term commitment and involve concessions that both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are currently unwilling or unable to make.

But the same challenges loom with the two-state solution, and it could have much more catastrophic consequences in both the immediate and foreseeable future.

In the name of a better future for Israelis and Palestinians (or at least a less bad one), the idea of ​​a two-state solution should be erased once and for all from the vocabulary of Middle East politics and buried in the archives of the worst - and most dangerous - political shenanigans of all time.

To the author

Manlio Graziano

is Professor of Geopolitics at Sciences Po Paris and the Sorbonne.

He is the author of “What is a Boundary?” and “Holy Wars and Holy Alliance: The Return of Religion to the Global Political Stage” and several other books.

We are currently testing machine translations.

This article was automatically translated from English into German.

This article was first published in English in the magazine “” on February 5, 2024 - as part of a cooperation, it is now also available in translation to readers of the IPPEN.MEDIA portals.

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2024-02-12

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