Is the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine dead?

A Jewish settlement on the West Bank

Israel plans projects in Jerusalem that will change the regional geopolitical map. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman explains.

The Israeli government plans to advance a plan to build thousands of housing units in Jerusalem as part of a broader plan aimed at bringing about a comprehensive and major change in the geopolitical map of the Middle East. This plan precludes any possibility in the future of a solution that includes dividing the city. According to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, the plan represents a final tomb for the two-state solution.

The plan targets construction in settlements such as Givat Hamatos, a Jewish settlement neighbourhood built on the land of the town Beit Safafa in East Jerusalem, and the E1 area. Among these neighborhoods are Al-Eizariya, Abu Dis, Anata, Hizma, Atarot and Pisgat Ze'ev, northeast of Jerusalem. All of these suburbs are Palestinian areas outside the so-called "Green Line" area. Haaretz said that Israel would promote extensive building plans for Jews in these areas.

The Jerusalem Planning Committee, through an initiative adopted by the Ministry of Housing, has recently approved the confiscation of land in the vicinity of the Givat Hamatos neighbourhood. The committee also agreed to present a plan to expand the Psgat Ze'ev settlement.

Discussions have also begun about the objections to the establishment of a new settlement in the E1 area. A plan to establish a huge Jewish neighbourhood in the Atarot area was recently tabled for discussion, including the construction of 1,257 settlement units. This would be the first Jewish neighbourhood to be built in Jerusalem for about 30 years. It would be modeled on the Har Homa settlement, which during its construction represented the biggest crisis that threatened the agreements.

Israel is proceeding with these grand plans in light of the reluctance of the administration of US President Joe Biden to pressure the current government to stop encroaching on Palestinian territory for fear of a political crisis.

The newspaper believes that the plans that will be implemented soon represent a red card for the Americans and the international community. This is because these plans represent a real problem and could lead to isolating Arab villages from the rest of Jerusalem, such as Beit Safafa. It could also separate the West Bank from the rest of Jerusalem, which would mean the death of the two-state solution.

These plans will be promoted even though former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refrained from promoting any plans to build thousands of settlement units in the neighbourhoods of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa during the era of US President Barack Obama. He also delayed announcing the same under the rule of Donald Trump.

According to an article in the Ha'aretz newspaper: "In February 2020, days before the third round of the Israeli elections, Netanyahu ordered the acceleration of construction in these neighborhoods. What was seen as an election ploy became a reality, and a few days before Biden was inaugurated as President of the United States, the tenders were closed and the bulldozers have started preliminary work."

Biden had clashed with Netanyahu during his visit to Israel in 2010 when he was Obama's deputy, and a plan to expand the Ramat Shlomo neighbourhood was published. Israel agreed to stop this project.

The Israeli newspaper said that this crisis was the beginning of a long-term freeze on Israeli construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank, before it resumed this during the Trump era. However, this crisis continues with the Biden administration. It does not exert any pressure on Israel.

The newspaper pointed out that Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid apparently heard weak American protests over the issue. The newspaper concluded that the task of dividing Jerusalem would remain impossible due to the reality of settlement and the city's need to avoid expansion.

The newspaper added: "Promoting three new settlements, in which tens of thousands of Jews are expected to live, will make this scenario completely divorced from reality." This scenario will also make it necessary for the international community to present another solution, perhaps a binational state or a confederation of some kind, in which millions of Israelis and Palestinians live with equal rights, the newspaper said. "That may be the only possible option," it added.

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Thursday, 27 January 2022