Israel & Palestine

Why the U.S. and Saudis Want a Two-State Solution, and Israel Doesn’t

Author: Editors Desk, Hussein Ibish Source: The Atlantic
February 28, 2024 at 06:33
Chip Somodevilla / Getty
Chip Somodevilla / Getty

How hard is the White House willing to push for a resolution of the Palestinian issue?

Amid the war in Gaza, a major crisis has been brewing, largely behind the scenes, between the United States and Israel over the need for a Palestinian state. The two governments’ positions have long diverged—except during the administration of Donald Trump, whose peace proposal envisaged Israel annexing an additional 30 percent of the occupied West Bank and envelopinga conditional Palestinian state in an even more empowered Greater Israel. Now that divergence has a harder, sharper edge than ever: Washington’s strategic goals in the region require a Palestinian state in the long run and Israeli acknowledgment of that aim in the short run; the Israeli government is having none of it.

Much expectation attends a purportedly comprehensive peace proposal that the U.S. and its most important Arab partners have reportedly been working on, soon to be unveiled and then implemented as the Gaza war winds down. The centerpiece of the plan would be a firm commitment to, and timeline for, the creation of a Palestinian state—a process that President Joe Biden has already mapped out in remarks. This agenda is especially important to Saudi Arabia, whose foreign minister has made clear that a commitment to the two-state solution is a prerequisite for normalizing relations with Israel. The plan for a new postwar dispensation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released on Friday made no such commitment, though it left just enough ambiguity about a possible “permanent arrangement with the Palestinians” not to foreclose that scenario.

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