The U.S. cuts are likely to further weaken services in the West Bank and Gaza, although the political implications on the Palestinian Authority and Hamas remain to be seen. For the time being, our Governance parameters stay put both in the West Bank (4) and in the Gaza Strip (2), but expect some downward adjustments as development projects phase out.
For a ceasefire to be stable and a humanitarian crisis avoided, ceasefire proposals comprised of three interlocking elements: (1) a major Gaza rehabilitation program, which can only happen when donor countries — refusing to deal with Hamas — see (2) the PA restored as Gaza management, and are satisfied that (3) more robust ceasefire understandings and mechanism are in place, so that their investment does not evaporate in another war. However, without agreement, both mediators — and a reemerging third mediator, Qatar — seem resigned to lower the bar by focusing on a modest ceasefire stabilization. They recognize that absent PA return and a major rehabilitation program, the ceasefire's sustainability is very much in doubt. Still, Gaza's general de-escalation moves all the relevant Gaza parameters — Prospects for War, Palestinian attacks, IDF Military Actions — from 3 to 4. And although a formal ceasefire agreement faces structural barriers, its conclusion would likely harm the cause of a two-state solution: Hamas would gain legitimacy, the Gaza/West Bank separation would be entrenched, and the PLO's non-violent agenda would be proven ineffective in the face of Hamas gains.
The settlements analysis was flawed (see details in Hebrew), but its conclusion correct: the vast majority of the settlers (75%) reside in close proximity to the 1967 lines, in areas that lend themselves to minor swaps (see, for example, the Geneva Initiative border model). In other words: settlers have failed to transform the demographic reality in the areas that are slated to become the Palestinian state. And as annexation supporters fail to present a plan that humanely deals with Palestinians, the validity of the two-state solution remains. Separately, a major poll showed decreasing Israeli support for the concept of a two-state solution. Notably, the poll found that over the past year Israelis increased their support for a detailed package listing the parameters of such a solution. These seemingly contradictory findings show that on the conceptual level Israelis echo their leaders’ skepticism and lack of progress toward peace; but Israelis also understand the two-state solution is the only practical one, and their support of realistic parameters has increased over the past year. (See analysis below), the Israeli Public Opinion parameter remains put at 5.
You can see all events on our ongoing TSI log.
The results of a periodic public opinion poll in Israel and Palestine — Palestinian-Israeli Pulse: A Joint Poll conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC) of Tel Aviv University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah (summary, findings) — show that support for the two-state solution declined to 43% on the Palestinian side and 49% on the Israeli side.
Absent any progress on the peace process, belief in the feasibility of the two-state solution drops, and with it, support of it. Only 47.5 % of Israelis believe the two-state solution is still possible, while among Palestinians, only 39% think it is. This makes perfect sense. The deadlocked process, an Israeli Prime Minister hostile to Palestinian statehood, and a split Palestinian polity — all depress support in the two-state solution. Stated differently: if Israelis and Palestinians repeatedly hear that peace is not possible — why would they support it?
Onto some good news then.
A nuanced reading of the results point to some positive trends:
More generally, the two-state solution remains the most preferred option. While the two-state solution is not perfect (nothing is), it is by far the most realistic, fair, and feasible option. This is not lost on the Israeli and Palestinian publics, who — when presented with three possible alternatives to a two-state solution: one state with equal rights, one state without rights, and expulsion/'transfer' — overwhelmingly prefer the two-state solution.
Support is largely dependent on progress and perception of feasibility. The decline in support is not ideological; it is circumstantial. Lacking progress, support is low. But it shouldn’t take much to renew faith in a peace process. Renewed peace efforts, or even reaffirmed commitment by Israeli, Palestinian and world leaders, could lead to a resurgence. Psychological dynamics are also at play: people struggle to imagine a different reality from the one they know. This is especially true when dealing with a transformed reality on such a grand scale — when peace had been achieved and its benefits are felt.
Finally, it is worth noting, perceptions of the other side are instrumental in encouraging or depressing support. Among Palestinians, 53% think the majority of Israelis oppose the two-state solution; 60% of Israelis believe the majority of Palestinians oppose it. In other words, a majority on both sides believes that a majority on the other side is opposed to the two-state solution — wrongly. This shows the level of misinformation and misconception between the Israeli and Palestinian publics, a result of entrenched separation and the absence of interaction — something the Geneva Initiative works to counter every day.
While the Trump administration is allegedly hard at work on a peace plan, political leaderships are more fearful of negotiations than the people they aspire to lead. A majority of Israelis and Palestinians are not afraid of peace; they are discouraged and skeptical, but they are also clear-eyed in their assessment of the landscape and of the feasibility of whatever other solutions are thrown around. They recognize that the two-state solution is the only viable alternative.
What leaders on both sides owe them is hope. In the absence of progress, if there are no initiatives at home or from abroad, the decline will continue and despair will take hold, and with it – violence. When the dust settles, we will once again find ourselves right where we started, working toward the two-state solution, the only possible solution.
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