Secretary of State Kerry is engaging in a concerted effort to rescue the idea of a two-state solution but the chances of success are fading rapidly.
Within the current Israeli government coalition a group of at least 40 Knesset members have formed an “Eretz” block intending to prevent any further concessions, expand settlements in the occupied territories and to increase their funding. Prime Minister Netanyahu is lukewarm about the idea of reentering negotiations with the Palestinians and has siphoned power away from the foreign ministry, thereby further influencing any future negotiated solution. On the other side, President Abbas is stubbornly insisting on his position of engaging in peace negotiations only after the parameters of the borders are set which he knows is unacceptable for any Israeli prime minister. Furthermore, his government is weak and his handpicked new prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, is politically inexperienced and appears to be a Fatah apparatchik. From 1998 to 2013 Hamdallah served as president of the An-Najah National University in Nablus and firmly believes that the only investment Palestinians can make is in education. But an educated workforce without jobs is a prescription for political trouble and Rami Hamdallah has no plan yet on how to improve and expand the Palestinian economy. Tragically, three of his children, 11 year old twins and a 9 year old boy, were killed in a traffic incident involving an Israeli vehicle in 2000 and one wonders how this bitter experience influenced his attitude towards Israel.
Wedged between this problem is a ticking demographic time bomb: almost 4 Million Palestinians live in the occupied territories and among them over 300,000 Jewish settlers (excluding East Jerusalem). Removing those settlers from the West Bank is economically, politically and militarily impossible. Therefore, its crucial that the Palestinians accept a two-phased peace plan in which Israel would immediately recognize Palestine on roughly 60 percent of the West Bank and thus liberate 99 percent of Palestinians of Israeli rule. Israel, on the other hand, should finally accept the modified Arab Peace initiative allowing the principle of land swap between Israel and the Palestinians under a comprehensive peace agreement sponsored by the United States. The U.S. welcomed the decision and considered it a step forward.
The alternative to those solutions is the one-state solution and Palestinians in the territories will live as second-class residents in a de facto Greater Israel. This will be the end of the Jewish state and the end of Israeli democracy.
Israeli and Palestinian must understand that the current status quo is untenable and cannot be managed but must be resolved. We need leaders on both sides of the fence to act and lead. Secretary of State Kerry knows that and understands that time is running out. Meanwhile, the hardliners on both sides are gaining power and influence.