US approach confirms the two-state demise

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Israeli Foreign Ministry)

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  /  April 12, 2022

In March 2021, a leaked memo from the US addressed to Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, indicated that the Biden administration might take a different approach from that of former US President, Donald Trump. Falling back within the parameters of international consensus, the memo detailed the US plan “to advance freedom, security and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians in the immediate term which is important in its own rights, but also as means to advance the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.” While consolidating its existing ties with Israel, the US would also embark upon rebuilding its relationship with the Palestinian Authority.

As the PA took a spectacular fall from the extrajudicial killing of Nizar Banat and its cancellation of democratic elections, the US and Israel were both faced with a more pressing detail – strengthening the PA to avoid the possibility of Hamas gaining political ground. With Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, refusing to consider the two-state compromise and diplomatic negotiations with PA leader, Mahmoud Abbas, economic incentives and concessions took priority.

In line with the meetings, Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, held with Abbas, the US had proposed holding talks on security and economic cooperation, which would bypass the diplomatic negotiations necessary to keep the defunct two-state compromise afloat.

While Abbas may gain some temporary standing from the scheme, Palestinians would face yet another setback. The US plan is built on strengthening the illusion that the PA may, at some point, be engaged with Israel on political issues regarding the two-state compromise, even though Bennett has ruled out the possibility outright. Israeli media have described the plan as Abbas gaining a diplomatic achievement, but there is no achievement in concessions that only encourage Israel to appropriate further territory.

The concept of a stalemate as described by Axios is particularly telling, notably that the US plan would provide the opportunity for Bennett to deny that meetings on security and economic cooperation are a path to negotiations. It does not, however, expand on what Israel will be gaining as a result of implementing such a plan, or what Palestinians stand to lose because Abbas will cling to anything that would create the illusion of his leadership as relevant.

US President Joe Biden has, from time to time, reiterated his support for the two-state compromise, yet his policy towards Palestine veers more towards that of his predecessor. Abbas is not challenging the contradictions which the US is inflicting upon the Palestinian people. Instead, he is calling for the US to abide by the paradigm, which is already defunct, and which gives the US complete freedom to interpret as it deems will suit Israel best, given there is no chance of implementation.

Security and economic cooperation formed the premise of Gantz’s discussions with Abbas, based upon what the US and Israel perceived to be immediate needs to be addressed. With Israel’s adamant rejection of the two-state compromise, the threadbare diplomacy promoted by the international community has little to support it. On the other hand, Abbas’s persistent denial of its futility has, once again, positioned Palestinians into additional territorial loss.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America