TEL AVIV —
When the Israel-Hamas war ends, the larger, decades-old issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remain festering, and, in the opinion of many, essential to resolve unless the cycle of death and destruction is to be repeated eternally.
Within the Biden administration, and among European allies and throughout the Arab world, the answer is straightforward. They view the two-state solution — the creation of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state existing alongside Israel, ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands — as the only way to stop generations of violence that have stalked the region and killed tens of thousands of people to this day.
But straightforward it’s not. The number of Palestinians who have lost hope in achieving statehood is growing, according to opinion polls, especially as right-wing Jewish settlers have taken over swaths of Palestinian land. Support from some Arab governments has not always gone beyond lip service.
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his country’s longest serving leader, adamantly opposes establishment of a Palestinian state.
President Biden said the militant organization Hamas, whose massacre of Israelis on Oct. 7 triggered the current conflict, essentially shares Netanyahu’s goal — 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. “To continue down the path of terror, violence, killing and war is to give Hamas what they seek. We can’t do that.”
Those are mighty head winds.
Shunning entreaties from the U.S., Netanyahu has announced that Israel will continue to barrage 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’s home to more than 2 million Palestinians for the foreseeable future.
The U.S. government has rejected that plan. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, meeting with Netanyahu and others in Israel on Thursday, urged the Israelis to take more precautions to protect civilian life.
“We made clear the imperative that before any operations go forward in southern Gaza, that there be a clear plan in place that puts a premium on protecting civilians,….