Mehdi Hasan has declared the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dead. He reaches this conclusion largely by talking only to people on both sides who are opposed to two states, and by stringing together out-of-context quotes by Israeli former-establishment figures that supposedly unveil Israel’s malicious intent. Hasan’s case boils down to two arguments. First, the growth of West Bank settlements has made partitioning the land impossible. Second, the peace process is, and always has been, a sham; the very phrase ‘peace process’ is ‘lazy’ and ‘offensive’.
The Israeli settlement enterprise, to be sure, has not been helpful to the cause of two states. In fact, not only has it done much damage to the cause of a Palestinian state, it is increasingly clear to most Israelis that it has been profoundly damaging to the long-term prospects of a Jewish state too. But a close look at the map and the numbers will show that the settlements have not managed to block a partition into two viable states. At a time when the ability of the Arab states to advance a regional diplomatic solution is at a nadir, and when the Palestinian government is itself split into two territorially and ideologically distinct regimes, the settlements at their best (worst?) can only really claim a third place in the dubious ranking of obstacles.