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Two-state solution shrinks as campaigning wraps up in Israel

Even Prime Minister Yair Lapid, commended internationally for supporting the two-state solution at the UN, has stopped championing the issue on the campaign trail.
JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Despite violence escalating in the West Bank over the past two months, one political issue is conspicuously absent from the Israeli electoral agenda: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its possible two-state solution.

A single issue will decide how Israelis cast their votes Nov. 1: whether to restore former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two blocs that were once categorized by their support of or opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state have realigned around the Netanyahu question.

Even the left's two main leaders, Labor head and Transportation Minister Meirav Michaeli and Meretz chair Zehava Gal-On, have marginalized the two state-solution. Their main message on Twitter today is the need to save the country from a far-right-ultra-Orthodox coalition led by Netanyahu.  

Their other major target is ultranationalist Itamar Ben Gvir, who has been soaring in the polls. The left sees his rise as a sign that Israeli democracy is on the verge of collapse.

Gal-On claims that her party’s message includes ending the occupation and rule over another people, personified in Netanyahu and Ben Gvir. Nevertheless, she also seems to be working the anyone-but-Netanyahu angle.

Former IDF chief Gadi Eizenkot, now number three in the National Union party, is a senior figure closely identified with the concept of separation from the Palestinians. Yet even he has stopped mentioning it.

When he entered politics, Eizenkot set a diplomatic solution to the conflict with the Palestinians as a major strategic goal for Israel. Today, however, he seems to have backed off.

In an Oct. 23 radio interview, Eizenkot was asked about the two-state solution, considering the escalation of violence in the West Bank. He avoided the question. “The two-state solution is not under discussion right now," he said. "It would be a pity to get into it.”

The interviewer persisted: “Do you personally support a two-state solution?

“My position is clear. You can find it in 1,001 detailed interviews. I think that it should exist beside Israel, which already exists, and that it should be demilitarized. But the issue will only be discussed as part of the permanent solution. It is a pity to waste time on it now.”

Eizenkot’s indirect answer underscores that in 2022, Israelis don’t see the two-state solution as particularly pressing.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid declared his support for a two-state solution at the September meeting of the UN General Assembly. For that he was praised by world leaders as well as by the Israeli left, while being condemned by the right. Since then, he has not mentioned the issue.

Even the gathering to mark the 27th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the champion of the Oslo Accords has clearly lost much of its appeal. Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz both turned down Michaeli’s invitation to participate, arguing that it was inappropriately politicized. Clearly, had they thought the event would benefit them electorally, they would have been among the first people to show up.

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