A permanent settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict may not be a lost cause, but for many Arab governments it seems to be less important than ever. With other Arab states likely to follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel, do the Palestinians still have a viable path to an independent state of their own?
In this Big Picture, Majdi Khaldi, a senior diplomatic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, argues that Israel’s refusal to accept the 1967 border and an independent Palestine is a rejection of the simple principle of Palestinian rights. For that reason, says leading Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab, US President-elect Joe Biden should pledge to ensure that Israel immediately halts settlement construction in the occupied territories.
But the Atlantic Council’s Jasmine M. El-Gamal notes that pan-Arab support for Palestinian statehood has increasingly given way to regional divisions over the perceived threat from Iran, the rise of political Islam, and the spread of regional terrorism. Likewise, former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami says the high probability that more Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel suggests that Palestine has become a disposable cause.
Still, as Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations points out, if Israel made a two-state solution impossible, the country’s future as a Jewish-majority democratic state would be called into question. The Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haass therefore urges political leaders to honor the legacy of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by reviving a diplomatic process leading to the creation of a separate Palestinian state.