World

Israel’s ambassador to the UK has insisted there will be no Palestinian state and that Israel believes there is no prospect of a two-state solution.

Although it has been evident for some time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government were no advocates for such a post-war peace, this is the first time the position has been stated so bluntly.

But is this significant?

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12:00

Israel rejects two-state solution

Following many decades of conflict, the West (US and UK specifically) believes that a two-state solution is the only viable way to secure an enduring peace.

Despite the immense challenges resulting from entrenched and polarised positions, in the 1990s Yasser Arafat (head of Palestine Liberation Organisation, or PLO) and Yitzhak Rabin (then Israeli prime minister) signed the Oslo Accords – facilitated by then US president Clinton.

The Oslo process began after secret negotiations in Oslo, Norway, resulting in both the recognition of Israel by the PLO and the recognition by Israel of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and as a partner in bilateral negotiations.

More on Israel-hamas War

The proposed two-state solution was based on the West Bank and Gaza falling under Palestinian rule, and the rest forming the Israeli state. Although a definitive solution was not agreed, all parties were coalescing around a form of two-state solution, and in 2017 Hamas also suggested that this could be a baseline for negotiation.

Now that Israel appears to be overtly dismissing this option, what does this mean for their military strategy in Gaza?

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3:12

PLO is ‘committed to two-state solution’

Military strategy is directly aligned to political objectives.

If a two-state solution represented Israel’s political objective their military campaign would target Hamas but would seek to preserve Gaza infrastructure and minimise Palestinian casualties. However, if the political ambition was different, it would require a very different military campaign.

Read more:
Israel’s open rejection of a ‘two-state solution’ undermines US Middle East policy
Even if Israel turns a deaf ear to UN’s Gaza ceasefire vote, it won’t have missed its biggest ally’s shift in stance

If Israel’s aim was an expanded state, then the military objective might be to clear Gaza, level the infrastructure, create a humanitarian crisis, and force Palestinians to leave Gaza.

It is increasingly clear that despite Israel’s previous diplomatic prevarications, their objective is not limited to “solving the Hamas problem”.

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0:53

PM says UK wants to see two-state solution

The military campaign required for an expanded Israeli ambition in Gaza would probably take months, not weeks, with huge implications for the Palestinian residents and the growing humanitarian crisis.

This also places the US (and UK) in a very difficult position. The US vetoed the UN Security Council resolution that would have imposed a ceasefire, to enable Israel to “finish the job”.

The West has roundly criticised Russia for invading Ukraine, arguing that Ukraine has the right to self-determination. So how would the US (and UK) justify supporting Israel if it emerged it planned a similar strategy in Gaza?

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2:36

Signs of US-Israel rift over Gaza

If despite diplomatic rhetoric to the contrary, Israel’s strategy post-7 October was always to subsume Gaza into an expanded Israeli state, that will have significant international repercussions.

Israel has often said it does not seek to occupy Gaza after this war.

It would also have profound implications for US and UK diplomatic relations with the Arab world.

So, returning to the original premise, is this announcement significant?

Profoundly!

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