What happens after the war between Israel and Hamas ends? The two-state solution faces strong headwinds

(Saul Loeb/Associated Press)

What happens after the war between Israel and Hamas ends? The two-state solution faces strong headwinds

Tracy Wilkinson
Laura King

Dec. 1, 2023

When the war between Israel and Hamas ends, the larger, decades-old issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue to fester and, in the opinion of many, be essential to resolve unless the cycle of death and destruction repeats itself in perpetuity .

Within the Biden administration, and among European allies and across the Arab world, the answer is simple.

Watching them

the two-state solution

the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel, ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories


the only way to stop generations of violence that have haunted the region and today killed tens of thousands of people.

But it’s not easy.

A growing De

number of Palestinians




lost hope of achieving statehood


This is reflected in opinion polls, especially as right-wing Jewish settlers have taken over parts of Palestinian land.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his country’s longest-serving leader, firmly opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.

President Biden told this to the militant organization Hamas, whose massacre of Israelis took place on October 1, 2011. 7 has caused the current conflict, essentially shares Netanyahu’s goal of preventing the two-state solution.

Hamas unleashed a terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace, Biden said. If we continue on the path of terror, violence, murder and war, we will give Hamas what they seek. We can’t do that.

Those are huge headwinds.

Ignoring US pleas, Netanyahu has announced that Israel will continue its military barrage on the Gaza Strip until Hamas is destroyed, whatever the cost, including the deaths of thousands of Palestinian civilians. At that point, Netanyahu says, Israel will take over the coastal enclave

that is it

providing shelter to more than 2 million Palestinians in the near future.

The US government has rejected that


On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who was in Israel to meet with Netanyahu and others, urged Israelis to take more precautions to protect civilian lives. Israel is expected to launch an offensive on the southern half of the Gaza Strip


after laying waste in most of the north. But Israel also told the Palestinians that they had to flee south for safety, thus their duty


would be extremely precarious.

“We have made clear that before any operations take place in southern Gaza, there must be a clear plan that places a premium on protecting civilians, and on supporting and building on the humanitarian aid coming into Gaza,” Blinken said . said, speaking to reporters after his day of meetings Thursday. “So this is a necessity,” he added. “It is an imperative because it is the right thing to do; it is an imperative because it is necessary to do.”

The most difficult question about Gaza after the war is who would rule, assuming Hamas is gone.

apart from an Israeli reoccupation.

One possibility, t

The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, is reluctant to be seen as being brought into Gaza by Israel. Moreover, it is


considered to be

weak and

corrupt, etc

has been

largely discredited among the Palestinian population.

It could be the United Nations or other Arab countries

persuaded to supervise

a temporary transition, but few candidates seem enthusiastic.

A real solution, several analysts said, will require a substantial change in both Israel’s leadership


Netanyahu and his far-right government and the Palestinian faction. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is 87 years old and has long since outlived his term in office.

The current leadership is not leadership that will produce a resolution, said Gerald Feierstein, a former U.S. diplomat who served throughout the Middle East and is now a fellow at the Middle East Institute, a Washington think tank.

Biden recently spoke of a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority, but other US officials declined to elaborate

about what it would look like if it were to take control of Gaza.

“It’s obviously delicate,” Blinken said.

Today’s dilemma


is largely a product of Netanyahu’s own actions. For years, his government has supported Hamas as a way to weaken the Palestinian Authority, the entity eager to make peace with Israel and establish an independent state. Israeli governments allowed Hamas to receive aid from Qatar and other countries while denying tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.

Now Netanyahu has something of a Frankenstein’s monster on his hands, Israeli analysts say.

“Netanyahu’s theory was that the outcome to be avoided was a political process with the Palestinians that could lead to a two-state outcome.”


Michael Koplow, policy fellow for the Israel Policy Forum, an advocacy group in Washington. “Apart from the fact that no one could reasonably expect Israel to negotiate with a terrorist organization openly committed to its destruction [Hamas]“Israel could avoid real negotiations with the Palestinians if the West Bank and Gaza were divided and controlled by separate entities.”

In his conversations with Israeli officials, Blinken took a tough stance, according to Israeli media.

“You cannot operate in southern Gaza the same way you operate in the north,” Blinken told Israel’s Channel 12 News. He was referring to the massive destruction of apartment buildings and other civilian infrastructure that Israel claims Hamas is using

as it is

shelters but that


are home to vast numbers of civilian families.

From Hamas’s perspective, there is little desire to return to the status quo ante, even if that were possible, said Hugh Lovatt, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. In that regard, Oct. 7 represented an irreparable break with the past, he said.

I don’t think the country wants to go back to governing Gaza on behalf of Israel.


Lovatt S


. The hardliners in the military wing do not want a government role under any circumstances.

although it is almost irrelevant at this point given the extreme scale of the destruction.

Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli major general and former national security advisor,

said that an Israeli attempt to gather the population of Gaza into a rapidly shrinking zone of relative safety would worsen the existing humanitarian catastrophe in the small enclave,


increasing international pressure on Israel to desist.

There is no infrastructure there to house 2 million people. Is it reasonable to expect that the entire civilian population can go there? he said.

In the longer term, the deep turmoil of the wars could open the way to new Israeli leadership

in fact,

stand up to the rest of the world or ensure that a still trembling public unites behind a leader who has proven willing to shake off international calls for restraint

in fact to oppose the rest of the world


Despite Netanyahu’s historic unpopularity, some longtime observers point to what has historically been something of a political superpower:


presenting themselves as a savior figure when people feel scared and worried.

Netanyahu will try to change the Israeli public’s perception of the war, political analyst Attila Somfalvi said. He will try to convince Israelis that he is the right leader to continue to hold power and rehabilitate the state.

Nearly two months after the war, there is a growing realization within Israel that a long-term strategy for Gaza must soon be developed.

Israel must get involved

day after

“I added these quotes to label it as a term of art, but feel free to strike out.

strategic thinking, said Eyal Hulata, a former Israeli national security adviser who is now an analyst at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

He said he didn’t see a role for the Palestinian Authority, but


stressed that there are Palestinians who have no ties to Hamas or the Palestinian Authority and who could form the backbone of a new government, with the help of Arab countries, including Egypt.

A civilian leadership could emerge in Gaza, he said.

Wilkinson reported from Tel Aviv and King from Berlin.


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