The primary political and ethical question is how to create political traction for a secular state shared equally by Israelis and Palestinians.
All in all, it seems time to recognize three related conclusions:
- The leadership of Israel has rejected the Two-State Solution as the path to conflict resolution;
- Israel has created conditions, almost impossible to reverse, that make it totally unrealistic to expect the establishment of an independent Palestinian state;
- Trump even more than prior presidents has weighted American diplomacy heavily and visibly in favor of whatever Israel’s leaders seek as the endgame for this struggle of decades between these two peoples.
Despite all appearances to the contrary, those in the West who do not want to join the premature and ill-considered Israeli victory party, are clinging firmly to the Two-State Solution amid calls to renew direct diplomatic negotiations between the parties so as to reach, in the extravagant language of Donald Trump, “the ultimate deal.”
Israel has increasingly indicated by deeds and words, including those of Netanyahu, an unconditional opposition to the establishment of a genuinely independent and sovereign Palestine. The settlement expansion project is accelerating with pledges made by a range of Israel political figures that no settler would ever be ejected from a settlement even if the unlawful dwelling units inhabited by Jews were not located in a settlement bloc that have been conceded as annexable by Israel in the event that agreement is reached on other issues.
What is more Netanyahu, although sometimes talking to the West as if he favors a resumption of peace negotiations seems far more authentic when he demands the recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a precondition for any resumption of talks with the Palestinians or joins in welcoming American pro-Israeli zealots who insist that the conflict is over, and that Israel deserves to be anointed as victor. To top it all off, the Trump decision of Dec 6, 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to follow this up by soon relocating the US Embassy, effectively withdraws from future negotiations one of the most sensitive issues — the status and sharing of Jerusalem — despite the language accompanying Trump’s statement on recognition that purports to leave to the future, permanent Jerusalem borders and disposition of the city on a permanent basis that is misleadingly declared to remain open for an agreement between the parties to be achieved at a later date of their choosing.