Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

Does the US want a one-state solution to the Palestine-Israel problem?

Judging by all of Washington's recent policy decisions, it would appear so

US President Donald Trump (L) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. AFP
US President Donald Trump (L) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. AFP

In its latest bid to supposedly achieve, in the words of a State Department spokesperson, a “lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to Israel and the Palestinians”, the US has taken another step to weaken the viability of a two-state solution. On Monday, Washington merged its Jerusalem consulate – a de facto embassy to Palestine – with its embassy in Israel, effectively downgrading its mission to the Palestinian people.

This is part of a larger pattern of behaviour from Washington. The Trump administration’s Palestine-Israel strategy has dealt repeated blows to prospects of Palestinian statehood, allegedly in the name of peace. Last May, the White House moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognising the divided city as Israel’s capital. While the US position was later clarified as moving the embassy to “West” Jerusalem, no clear policy has been articulated on the Palestinian right to East Jerusalem. After the Palestinian Authority severed ties in response, Mr Trump slashed millions of dollars in funding for the UNRWA’s Palestinian refugee programme.

Ahead of the unveiling of America’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan by senior US adviser Jared Kushner, the US yet to prove it can provide the needed leadership to bring peace to end this decades-long conflict.

Given the recent string of provocations, one could feasibly surmise that the US now favours a one-state solution. The idea is of course highly unlikely. With the demographics against them, it is unlikely that the Israelis would agree to be outnumbered by Palestinians in their own state. And without any guaranteed rights for the Palestinians, the result would be too much like apartheid for the world to bear.

Meanwhile, Israelis and Palestinians, for their part, are actually in favour of each having their own state. A 2013 poll indicated that 70 per cent of Palestinians in the West Bank, 48 per cent of Gazans and 52 per cent of Israelis support "an independent Palestinian state together with the state of Israel".

The US insists its divisive policy will broker peace for the Palestinians and Israelis, but unless President Donald Trump has been plotting a one-state solution this whole time, cutting out Palestinians will only further undercut peacebuilding efforts.

Updated: March 4, 2019 06:59 PM

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