The death of the two state solution

The recent bout of conflict between Hamas and Israel has taught us many things. For instance, it shows us how impassionate Hamas are towards its people. It has highlighted how far Hamas were prepared to go to wreak destruction on Israeli families through terror tunnels and massacres. But above all it has killed the dream of a two state solution.
The logic of a connected Palestine between tiny Gaza and the area encompassing the majority of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank has never seemed that sound from a purely geographical point of view. But now, the political chasm that exists between the two regions is larger than ever. Armed to the teeth and aiming for the eradication of Israel and the Jews, Hamas has turned the territory it controls, Gaza, into a cesspit of Islamic fundamentalism, bereft of economic and political hope and an environment becoming more authoritarian and isolated. On the other side of Israel lies the West Bank, where Fatah have overseen an increase in living standards, employment and social opportunity. Naturally, the situation is far from perfect, but the Palestinian Authority have recognized Israel as a legitimate state and denounced violence; at least this is a beginning.
With these different political climates comes two very different problems for Israel and the world to solve, making the rationale behind pushing the coveted two state solution even more illogical and positioning me firmly into the three state solution camp. The outcomes of this path to peace would see Israel, a Palestinian state in the West Bank on top of a separate state in Gaza. The big problem for this would be the perception that Palestine would be even further carved up under Israeli auspices. But this is something that can be addressed in the long run, particularly with the right of return surely reintroduced in the Palestinian state. Palestinians would vote with their feet and with a potential three million able to return to Palestine, there is a great economic potential the two separate Palestinian states would be vying for. A natural equilibrium could be potentially reached with governance of Gaza becoming less autocratic, anti-Semitic and violent to increase its appeal with Palestinians and other migrants. In the short term though, the same issues that exist today will have to be addressed, but at least this could be done slowly and separately with both Palestinian parties as opposed to solving them under one banner blowing in a very stormy and unknown political climates. Achievements could be made in one even if issues exist in the other.
For a Palestinian state to evolve in the West Bank, Israel will want further guarantees for their security before unilaterally withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, as well as resolving the issue of Jerusalem. The first of these issues could potentially be simple, at least in Middle East terms, to resolve. Abbas has already signified he would be content to allow a continued Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley and perhaps most encouraging for the Israelis is his determined crackdown on Hamas and its sympathizes. The unity government announced in April may have been a hiccup in the peace process, but Abbas has become increasingly tired with Hamas in these few months and has already threatened to collapse the agreement. In return, the Palestinian Authority will expect unilateral withdrawal from their territory in the West Bank, something that would be progressively likely if Israel can continue to guarantee their security with the promise of an ally or at the worst neutral state on their border.
Then there would be the seemingly never-ending problem of Gaza and Hamas in another state. Israel should never negotiate with Hamas. The slight relaxation of the admittedly civilian crippling blockade has only been achieved through Israel’s destruction of Hamas’ military capacity on top of the knowledge that General Sisi’s systematic dismantling of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has limited the ability for weapons to be smuggled into Gaza. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was meant to give the territory the opportunity for real self governance, but Hamas have ruined that and in the process doomed its population to suffering and hardship. But paradoxically through efficient propaganda, Hamas have made Gazans more steadfast in their support of the violent terrorist organization. The world would do well to remember the burning businesses, houses and fields as Hamas overthrew Fatah and destroyed the infrastructure Israel left behind. Gaza is all but a Pariah State and over the course of my blog I will look into how we can solve the issue of an independent Gaza co-existing peacefully with Israel by drawing on historic and modern examples, such as looking towards the Allies de-Nazification policies in Germany post-World War 2.
If we want to see a peaceful future for Israel and Palestine, the world needs to realize the impracticalities of focusing on a two state solution when the two territories of Palestine are so politically and now culturally distinct. Policy makers need to concentrate on the establishment of a Palestinian nation in the West Bank. This would allow the beginning of normalization between two former enemies as well as a safe haven for those wanting to flee from the conflict that is likely to continue to exist for the time being between Hamas and Israel. In the mean time, we can then try to figure out a solution for our third state, the one that would and in a sense already exists in Gaza. Even in the West Bank the process will be slow and full of unforeseen problems and events with potentially derailing consequence; but I have real belief the best path towards peace is the separation of the isolated Gaza strip and the potential and able West Bank.