The U.S. Remains Faithful to the Two-State Solution While Ignoring Its Dangers

July 18, 2022 | Elliott Abrams
About the author: Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and is the chairman of the Tikvah Fund.

In his visit to Israel last week, President Biden affirmed his support for the Jewish state in no uncertain terms, and acknowledged that “the ground is not ripe at this moment to restart negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinians. Yet he also maintained America’s commitment to the creation of an “independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous” Palestinian state. Elliott Abrams comments:

An “independent, sovereign” Palestinian state would quickly become a great security threat not only to Israel but to Jordan as well. That is why calls for an independent Palestinian state are empty gestures or simple virtue-signaling unless they confront the security challenge. If you don’t have a solution for the problem of keeping Hamas and other terrorist groups out of power in a new Palestinian state, your demands to establish one are irresponsible. And that is precisely why the “peace camp” in Israel has fared so poorly for the last twenty years.

It’s all too easy for Americans to lecture Israelis on the danger of “maintaining the occupation” which after all is “untenable” or “unsustainable.” But after 55 years, why conclude that it is unsustainable—unless a better option now exists that is also realistic and safe? And why lecture Israelis on its dangers (which certainly exist) when it is they, not Americans, who will bear the risks of coping with a terrorist-controlled West Bank? Israel has faced repeated rounds of conflict in Gaza—even after leaving there in 2005. Those awful little wars would pale in destructiveness compared to a conflict in the West Bank, and the death toll on both sides would be far higher. It’s too easy to repeat old formulas about two states. First, tell us how security for Jordan and Israel would be achieved and maintained. Then give your lecture.

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