Two-State Solution Remains Essential
As the Israel-Hamas war continues to devastate the region, the underlying issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved. The international consensus, including the Biden administration and European allies, is that a two-state solution is the only way to end the cycle of violence and achieve lasting peace. However, obstacles such as the increasing loss of hope among Palestinians and the opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose significant challenges.
Netanyahu and Hamas Share a Common Goal
President Biden has pointed out that Netanyahu and Hamas share a common goal of preventing a two-state solution. Hamas fears the prospect of Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and, therefore, unleashed a terrorist attack that triggered the current conflict. Shunning the U.S.’s entreaties, Netanyahu has vowed to continue the onslaught on Gaza until Hamas is destroyed, regardless of the cost to Palestinian civilians. The U.S. government, on the other hand, emphasizes the need to protect civilian lives.
Gaza’s Future: Who Will Govern?
When the war eventually ends, the question of who will govern Gaza becomes crucial. The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, is reluctant to be seen as being brought into Gaza by Israel. Moreover, it is seen as weak and corrupt, and lacks credibility among the Palestinian population. The United Nations or other Arab nations might oversee a temporary transition, but finding suitable candidates is challenging.
Leadership Change Needed
Analysts believe that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires a substantial change in leadership on both sides. Netanyahu’s far-right government and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has overstayed his term, are seen as barriers to a resolution. President Biden has mentioned a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority, but concrete plans for its role in Gaza remain undisclosed.
Gaza’s Uncertain Future
The war has left Gaza in ruins, and the future governance of the region remains uncertain. Hamas is unlikely to accept a return to the status quo ante, and Israeli attempts to control Gaza’s population within a confined area would worsen the already dire humanitarian situation. The war’s aftermath could lead to new Israeli leadership that disregards international calls for restraint, or it could rally the public around a leader who portrays himself as a savior figure.
A Call for Long-Term Strategy
As the war drags on, there is growing recognition within Israel that a long-term strategy for Gaza is needed. This strategy should involve “day-after” strategic thinking, engaging with Palestinians unaffiliated with Hamas or the Palestinian Authority who could form a new administration with the support of Arab countries. Ultimately, finding a civilian leadership in Gaza may be the key to a sustainable solution.