US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has weighed in on calls for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that "ultimately it's the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state, and...the only way to give Palestinians the state to which they're entitled."
On calls for a two-state solution, Sec. of State Blinken tells @GStephanopoulos, "ultimately it is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state, and...the only way to give Palestinians the state to which they're entitled." https://t.co/SyOM0qHAxB pic.twitter.com/I8OlO54eLl— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 23, 2021
Blinken appeared on ABC's "This Week" to underscore that last Thursday's cease-fire, mediated by Egypt, was "critical" to place Washington in a position "to make a pivot to building something more positive" in the aftermath of 11 days of violence.
According to the US Secretary of State, the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza required urgent attention.
He called for “engaging both sides” in an effort to achieve “real improvements in the lives of people so that Israelis and Palestinians can live with equal measures of security, of peace and dignity."
Blinken is set to travel to the region in the coming days for a flurry of meetings with Palestinian, Israeli, and regional counterparts to discuss rebuilding and relief efforts.
On Friday, President Joe Biden spoke at a White House news conference on the first full day of the truce negotiated on 20 May between Israel and Hamas.
Reiterating Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security, Biden insisted a two-state solution, envisaging a state for Palestinians, remains “the only answer” to the conflict.
According to the “two-state solution," an independent State of Palestine is envisioned alongside the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River.
Numerous diplomatic efforts have been made to realise a two-state solution after a UN resolution on the "Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine" called for "two States, Israel and Palestine … side by side within secure and recognised borders" in 1947.
The boundary line between the proposed two states was the subject of dispute, as Palestinian authorities insisted on the "pre-1967 borders" deemed unacceptable by Israel, which claimed East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the so called six-day Arab–Israeli War in 1967.
In March 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who previously hinted that he would accept a Palestinian state, declared that this would not happen if he remained prime minister.
The controversial recognition by then-US President Donald Trump of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017 prompted Palestinian officials to slam the policy change that "destroys the peace process."
A 2021 report by the RAND Corporation found that Israelis across the political spectrum prefer the status quo to the two-state solution, while Palestinians are only willing to accept a variant of the two-state solution that Israelis will not accept.
Accordingly, the report suggested that as “data highlight the deep distrust and profound animosity of each side for the other,” resolving the crisis will likely require more holistic “peace deals” than have been previously offered.
Middle East Conflagration
Tensions had been brewing between the Arab population and Israeli police for days ahead of the latest flare-up of violence on 10 May.
The forced eviction of Palestinian families in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah fuelled anger, compounded by Israeli authorities restricting access for Palestinians to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount – Islam's third most revered site – during the holy month of Ramadan.
The conflict between Gaza-based Hamas militants and Israel then escalated, resulting in thousands of rockets being fired into Israel by Hamas.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried out targeted airstrikes on Gaza before an Egypt-brokered ceasefire was struck on Thursday night.
The IDF has successfully completed Operation Guardian of the Walls. This is what the 12-day-long operation looked like in numbers: pic.twitter.com/AM2WoqPx4K— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 22, 2021
The 11 days of hostilities involving rocket attacks and airstrikes left 243 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead in the region’s most dangerous spate of violence in years.