February 9, 2023

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What in the world is happening in Israel?

A week of reporting from Israel and the West Bank has left me feeling that the prospect for a two-state solution has all but vanished. But no one wants to formally declare it dead and buried — because categorically ruling it out would have enormous ramifications. So diplomats, politicians and liberal Jewish organisations pretend that it still has a faint heartbeat. I do as well. But we all know that the two-state option is not in hospital. It’s in hospice. Only a miracle cure could save it now.

Alas, though, just because the two-state concept is vanishing doesn’t mean the one-state solution — with Israel alone controlling the West Bank, Jerusalem and pre-1967 Israel forever — automatically becomes the easy default. Not at all. The more you examine how Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs have been living together between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the more you realize three important things:

First, you realize that, despite episodic blowups, these highly diverse, often antagonistic, but deeply intertwined communities have been kept in rough equilibrium since the 1993 Oslo Accords, thanks to a combination of Israel’s security clampdowns, the workings of the Palestinian Authority, economic growth and a whole lot of pragmatic compromises and self-restraint exercised by all sides every day.