Written by Jack Elbaum
What’s happening: The U.S., Egypt, and Qatar are reportedly pushing for the release of all hostages taken by Hamas in exchange for a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and an end to the war.
- Then: This plan would restart Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization talks and, most importantly, begin the process of creating a Palestinian state through a negotiated two-state solution.
The issue: Hamas and most Palestinians do not want a two-state solution. Hamas’s charter reads: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.” Polls show only 24 percent of Palestinians want a two-state solution — including just 16 percent of 15-25-year-olds.
- The reason: Many Palestinians consider the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — which includes Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza — “occupied” territory.
Why Israel is opposed: This deal would mean Israel loses the war. Israel’s war aims were clear: Destroy Hamas, remove them from power, and rescue all hostages. Any end to the war that leaves Hamas in power and their leaders alive — ready to attack Israel again — will be considered a defeat.
- Behind the headlines: Such a plan may boost Hamas’s credibility among Palestinians. Hamas could claim that it was a massive terror attack — not collaboration with Israel — that led to the secession of land to the Palestinians.
- Alternative: Since Hamas’s attacks, many Gazans have been displaced. Israel has since been working with surrounding Arab countries to welcome Palestinians.
At the same time: There is still no legitimate alternative to the two-state solution. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians are going to leave the land. It may take a generation until both peoples will be open to pursuing one again.