The curse of the ‘two-state solution’ as a normalization tool

Awad Abdelfattah

Middle East Monitor  /  September 26, 2023 

There is no intention … to exert pressure on Israel, or to impose sanctions.

The issue of Palestine has turned into a distraction in the hands of the international community and Arab rulers. Whenever the Palestinians rise up, pay more with their blood and lives, and alert the world that they are still here, the opportunists and hypocrites once again manipulate the issue in different ways.

Opportunism and hypocrisy are institutionalized and well-established in individual countries and international institutions. The Saudi regime, which encouraged the Abraham Accords and normalization which was reduced to a security alliance between Israel and the regimes in the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, is now engaged in negotiations for normalization with the settler-colonial apartheid regime. US mediators are pressing hard to achieve a breakthrough in this regard, as it will benefit President Joe Biden’s bid to be re-elected.

We are currently witnessing a multipolar world order taking shape. Optimists believe that this will be a positive thing, as a rival to Western imperialism, as if we are living before the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, although the Palestine issue received the support of the Soviet camp at the time, Israel remained, in the eyes of communist ideology, a natural state, so it was helped to move forward with its settler-colonial project.

Good-natured Palestinian optimists, even the ideologues among them, are certain that the Palestinian cause will be better off. There is no doubt that a multipolar world, which derives momentum from the Western-Russian war in Ukraine, is better than a world monopolized by US imperialism, but what unites the emerging camp(s) is the economy and opposition to American domination. However, an alternative cultural and civilizational project that is an ally of the people is lacking; their demands are for liberation, popular development, democracy and social justice.

All that is currently being discussed in Saudi Arabia is the price that the Kingdom will receive.

Saudi normalization is only a matter of time, and it will be another Arab regime stab in the back of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination, especially in their liberalization path, which has begun to seem Sisyphean to some. All that is currently being discussed in Saudi Arabia is the price that the Kingdom will receive.

Saudi citizens are now being prepared for this through a back and forth process with US imperialism, showing principled acceptance at times, and rejection and abstention at other times. I hope that Israel will not agree to the conditions set by Riyadh, so that this deal will not be completed at the expense of the Palestinians and their aspirations for liberation, justice and security.

The tendency towards normalization is being confirmed by the transition of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority from opposing normalization to accepting the ongoing Saudi preparations with Israel and setting its conditions. These do not require the US and Israel to implement the 2002 Arab Initiative — which was a Saudi initiative — but rather to provide economic facilities to the Palestinians, and ease some repressive measures, as well as accept the management of the conflict and distract the Palestinians until the interests of the Arab and international parties are achieved.

The PA is adopting a pragmatic approach; if it cannot stop a path that is hostile to the Palestinian interest, it will adapt to it to reduce its harm, even though the harm from this equation, as proven by the official Palestinian experience, is disastrous by any standards.

It is clear that the challenges and risks facing the Palestinian liberation process are enormous. American imperialism is working diligently to accelerate the integration of Zionist capital into the region, as part of the reconstruction of the Western imperialist neoliberal system that faces serious challenges from China, and from the nations of the world which have returned to street politics. The aim is to reshape the geopolitical situation and ensure a Middle East alliance that compensates for the decline of US influence in the region.

This comes within the context of the Zionist strategy to encircle the emerging Palestinian struggle and isolate the issue from the Arab people. The Abraham Accords represent an embodiment of the ambitions of expansionist Zionism, which aims to suppress the aspirations of the Palestinian people forever and compete with both Turkey and Iran for leadership of the region, or at least ensure a leadership position therein.

Those who pretend to have a renewed interest in the Palestinian issue through the re-introduction of the two-state solution, whether the UN, EU or even the rulers of Saudi Arabia, realize that the current Zionist regime, both its government and opposition, along with the Jewish settler society, are completely opposed to the emergence of an independent state of Palestine. 

If negotiations are opened at a future stage — which is not guaranteed — all that will result is a distorted entity and not a viable, sovereign state, given the current balance of power. I say this because there is no intention on the part of any party, neither Western nor Eastern, to exert pressure on Israel, or to impose sanctions to force an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and the establishment of an independent state on a small part of Palestine.

This means that we are entering a new phase of misinformation and timewasting, which benefits Israel as it allows it to strengthen its settler-colonial project. Mahmoud Abbas is already on board, and the next PA leader will be imposed, not elected, so the external parties will find both to be responsive to this deception while blaming the poor international reality.

However, this project to liquidate the Palestinian issue faces challenges that began to appear more than a decade ago, and continue on the ground inside occupied Palestine, through popular uprisings and legitimate acts of resistance. Beyond Palestine, we see it in shifts in Western public opinion, including among Americans, and international human rights organizations describing Israel as implementing the crime of apartheid, which is akin to a crime against humanity.

Continuing the reactionary Zionist and Arab imperialist effort to establish the settler-colonial state as a dominant force in the Arab region, under the pretext of the two-state solution, will not change the direction of the current path, which says that there is no alternative but to dismantle this colonial system and bring liberation, justice and democracy to historic Palestine. It is a long and complicated path, and it will be full of pain and suffering, but this is what justice requires, and this is what the Palestinians must channel all their strength and energy into.

Awad Abdelfattah is a political writer and the former general secretary of the Balad party; he is the coordinator of the Haifa-based One Democratic State Campaign, established in late 2017