October 11, 2023
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether a two-state solution is still possible for the Israel-Palestine issue. We also look at the seat belt mandate for heavy vehicles in Kerala, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Is a two-state solution still possible for the Israel-Palestine issue?
No one doubts that geopolitics is a complex machinery. It has gotten even more complicated over the past decade. The Middle East is a prime example of this. In particular, the issue of Israel and Palestine. For decades, the world has debated the best way to resolve the issue with little to no success.
As the attack on Israel by Hamas began, the world watched and will continue to contemplate what’s next. What’s the end game? For an issue that has resulted in a lot of violence and bloodshed, the recent escalation is certainly a step backward. While many countries have condemned the attacks, some have called for a two-state solution. Is this even possible now?
The recent attacks by Hamas are the latest in a conflict that goes back decades. In fact, it dates back to before the establishment of Israel in 1948. The territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is seen by Israel and Palestine as their own. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all hold parts of the land as sacred.
It began post-World War II with the United Nations passing Resolution 181 for two independent states – one Jewish and one Arab. The Arab side rejected it, and the plan wasn’t implemented. After Israel declared independence in 1948, a group of Arab states with Palestinian factions attacked Israeli forces. It would be the first of many in the decades ahead.
The six-day war broke out in 1967 over lingering conflicts, including Egypt’s continued blockage of shipping into the Gulf of Aqaba. Even with the support of Jordan, the Egyptian forces were no match for Israel, who took control over the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Sinai, and the Golan Heights.
There were two notable events in the years ahead. First was the 1972 Munich Olympics attack. Palestinian militants from the Black September group killed two Israeli athletes and took several hostage, who were later killed. Second, a coalition of Arab countries, led by Egypt and Syria, launched a coordinated surprise attack on Israel on the holy day of Yom Kippur. They’re eventually driven out by Israeli forces.
The first sign of moving toward a peaceful resolution came in 1978. Brokered by US President Jimmy Carter, the Camp David Accords laid the foundation for a peace deal when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met. This didn’t stop the violence in the region.
The second attempt was the 1993 Oslo Accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) based on previous UN resolutions. The plan was to expand limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A follow-up agreement was signed in 1995. However, issues like Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem’s status remained unresolved.
As violent clashes continued in the region, Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza in 2005. The Palestinian militant group Hamas won the legislative elections in 2006. When Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel responded by imposing a 16-year blockade on the strip, home to 2 million Palestinians.
The United Nations has criticised Israel’s actions to limit the movement of goods and people and said it deepened Gaza’s humanitarian crisis. The West Bank is home to 3 million Palestinians and more than half a million Jews who live in settlements. These have been occupied by Israel and deemed illegal by international law.
In recent years, Israel’s occupation of the region has been described as apartheid. An Amnesty International report from last year criticised Israel for maintaining a system of oppression through segregation and control.
As the current conflict unfolds, there’s a feeling among observers that the fighting won’t stop anytime soon as Israel has declared a state of war and Hamas has threatened to kill hostages. Does this erase any hope of a two-state solution?
VIEW: All but gone
For many, the only viable long-term solution has been to divide the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea by forming two countries. In the past few decades, both sides have dug in their heels and aren’t willing to part with land they consider theirs. There’s a world where the current attacks will lead to Israelis and their government not wanting a separate Palestinian state with its own army. For them, that might only empower groups like Hamas.
There doesn’t seem to be a win-win situation here since Hamas doesn’t recognise Israel’s right to exist. The group attacked Israel on its southern border, which it’ll likely continue to control even if there’s a peace deal. The thinking here is that some citizens might accept dividing the country under some circumstances but won’t accept its annihilation. There’s also a radical Israeli fringe that’s unwilling to see Palestinians have a state of their own. What’s concerning is that some of them are now part of the ruling coalition.
The latest wave of attacks has sowed more fear and suspicion on both sides. From the Israeli perspective, if this is what Hamas can do with little power, imagine what they’ll be capable of with sovereign state power. For the Palestinians, they need Israelis to share their pain and force their government to cool off. What’s the probability of Palestinians convincing Israeli voters and the government that a Palestine state will exist peacefully next to Israel? A Pew Research poll from last month showed only 35% of Israelis think this can happen.
COUNTERVIEW: Need to work toward it
Two major powers, China and Saudi Arabia, have called for an immediate ceasefire and repeated calls for a two-state solution. In June, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed an international peace conference and said he would play an active role in facilitating peace talks between both sides. China wants to have a say in the outcome in the region. Xi met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in June and called for the territory to become a full member of the UN.
China has some clout here since it helped broker a tentative deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March following years of diplomatic deadlock. Speaking of Saudi Arabia, their statement cited previous repeated warnings on escalations between both sides. US President Joe Biden has also called for a two-state solution in his address at the UN General Assembly last month.
While the current conflict is no doubt a drastic escalation compared to recent years, this isn’t the first time large-scale violence has erupted between Israel and Hamas. Some polls have shown that while the chances for a two-state solution are low, they’re higher than any other alternative. This is where the UN Security Council needs to step in and recognise a Palestinian state under occupation. This would pave the way for representatives from both sides to begin talks. It’s the only way forward.
- The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A chronology – The Washington Post
- Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Council on Foreign Relations
- Two States or One? Reappraising the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- The Last Chance for a Two-State Solution for Israelis and Palestinians May Be to Think Much Bigger – Just Security
- China Calls for Ceasefire, ‘Two-State Solution’ Amid Conflict Between Hamas, Israel – Time
- The lesson from the Hamas attack: The U.S. should recognize a Palestinian state – The Washington Post
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) A two-state solution is no longer feasible for the Israel-Palestine issue.
b) A two-state solution is still feasible for the Israel-Palestine issue.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
IIT-B’s ‘vegetarian tables’ policy: Vegetarianism of purity promotes segregation, hierarchy and even violence
For the Left:
Challenges within: Examining extremism and identity crisis in India’s second-largest majority
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Monsoon study recovery (Himachal Pradesh) – To counter the adverse effects of monsoon-induced disruptions on education, Himachal Pradesh’s Directorate of Elementary Education has revised school schedules. Schools significantly impacted by the monsoon are to conduct extra classes, equaling the lost academic hours. This flexibility, supported by the Himachal Pradesh State Teachers’ Association, aims to ensure students receive a complete education despite weather challenges.
Why it matters: The initiative highlights the region’s adaptability to climate challenges, ensuring uninterrupted education. By allowing schedule flexibility, it addresses the local weather conditions’ unique impact on schooling. This proactive approach underlines the importance of education continuity amidst adverse circumstances.
Seat belt mandate (Kerala) – The state government has mandated the use of seat belts in heavy vehicles from November 1. This rule applies to both drivers and front-seat passengers in these vehicles, including buses operated by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
Why it matters: The decision, announced by Transport Minister Antony Raju, is part of a broader initiative to enhance road safety, with a particular focus on minimizing risks associated with heavy vehicle transit. Moreover, this mandate may set a precedent for other regions to follow suit, encouraging a broader adoption of safety measures aimed at mitigating accident-related casualties and fostering a culture of safety on Indian roads.
Online Panchayat platform (West Bengal) – Seuli Saha, the Minister of State for Panchayat & Rural Development (P&RD) in West Bengal, launched the West Bengal Panchayat Management System (WBPMS) to digitize and streamline all development programs, schemes, and activities conducted by the three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Why it matters: Saha highlighted the portal’s capability to swiftly provide access to a broad spectrum of public health data with just a click. This encompasses data on child births, birth weight, infant and maternal mortality rates, communicable diseases, teenage marriages, and disaster preparedness, extending from the Gram Panchayat to State levels.
Lek Laadki Yojana approved (Maharashtra) – The state Cabinet has given the nod to the ‘Lek Laadki Yojana,’ aimed at financially assisting girl children from their birth until they turn 18. This scheme was announced during the March 2023 budget session and got the cabinet’s approval recently.
Why it matters: Under this scheme, financial aid will be distributed in phases: ₹5,000 at birth, ₹6,000 in Grade I, ₹7,000 in Grade VI, ₹8,000 in Grade XI, and ₹75,000 when the girl reaches 18, summing up to a total of ₹1,01,000. By providing financial support, the scheme aims to ensure girls’ education and reduce the financial burden on families.
Ms Supermom Pageant (Meghalaya) – Meghalaya is set to host the inaugural Ms Supermom Beauty Pageant, orchestrated by Shillong’s Fashion Society to honour and uplift single mothers. The event aims to spotlight these resilient women juggling familial duties and employment, commencing with auditions two months prior, followed by grooming sessions at the 100 Fold Academy. The pageant will culminate in a grand finale featuring traditional dance, with monetary prizes of ₹50,000, ₹30,000, and ₹25,000 for the top three contestants, respectively, along with a designer crown for the winner.
Why it matters: The Ms Supermom Beauty Pageant emerges as a novel platform endorsing single mothers, nurturing their self-confidence, and celebrating their dual role in society. This initiative not only challenges societal stereotypes but also provides financial incentives, potentially alleviating economic strains faced by single mothers.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
6.3% – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised India’s economic growth forecast for the current fiscal year to 6.3% from the previous estimate of 6.1%, as stated in its October 2023 World Economic Outlook (WEO) report.