The shock, and the aftershock

Seismic shifts in the “two-state solution” mindset

Ofer_Oct7Repercussions image
A march in Jerusalem in February. Photographer: Eyal Warshavsky/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images.

Hamas' October 7 invasion of Israe-l-the massacre of 1,200 people, and abduction of 250--left an indelible mark on our national psyche. The scars will be permanent. That day was the worst in our country's history.  

But the reverberations of the shock extend far beyond "merely" the trauma so many endure. October 7 has changed our society, our trust in our government and the IDF, and our political map. 

For decades, starting with the 1967 Six-Day War, a sizable sector of Israeli society has been advocating for a two-state solution that would include an Arab (Palestinian) state alongside Israel, broadly in line with the 1949 Armistice Agreement, with more significant changes regarding Jerusalem. 

Generally speaking, the Israeli left--most famously under Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak (but also others)- -called for an independent Palestine in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, co-existing peacefully with Israel, as a permanent solution to our conflict.

For their part, the Palestinian leadership, supported by the Arab world, refused for decades to even discuss any solution that would give them less than the entirety of the territory allotted to Israel by the United Nations in 1947. But in 1993, the Palestinian leadership changed its policy, and agreed to negotiations--which, unfortunately, have been slow and ineffective, torpedoed time and again by Palestinian terrorism and, occasionally, by Israeli wariness. 

When Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Palestinian Authority not only failed to use this opportunity to establish the building blocks of a de-facto state, but lost it to Hamas. The rest is history. Violent history. 

But the Israeli left--while paying a political price for two intifadas and incessant rocket attacks from Gaza by losing a large swath of its voters--maintained its position on the need to reach a two-state solution, based on both security and moral considerations, according to the Green Line drawn at the 1949 armistice. Support for the Palestinian right to self-determination remains a staple for many, not just the Israeli left. 

Now, the October massacre has changed the political calculus for many of us in Israel, including those on the left. The belief that many, if not most, Palestinians (if not many of their leaders) seek peace and co-existence slammed against the wall of reality.

Many of the Israeli supporters of co-existence as a moral imperative-one that would provide us, in the long-term, with neighborly relations including trade, commerce and tourism- were shocked to see both thousands of "ordinary" Palestinians, not just Hamas terrorists, participate in the massacre… and mortified as hundreds of thousands of others cheered, as Israeli hostages were being paraded through Gaza's streets. 

After October 7, the belief that those same people could one day live in co-existence with Jews has become scarce, even among committed left-voting Israelis, who can now no longer envisage anything but eternal hatred and violence against us. The belief that the hatred will disappear with time has evaporated, with the majority of Israelis now expressing their opposition to a two-state solution. 

This trend will no doubt have a political effect on the next elections (whenever those may be). The sheer horror of the atrocities inflicted on us by Hamas, and the overwhelming support the massacre garnered among Gazans, will undoubtedly translate into a growing number of Israelis favoring a solution that does not reward the Palestinians with statehood. 

The Israeli left seeing its numbers dwindling, on the other hand, doesn't necessarily translate for more votes to the right. There will likely be an increase in voters aligning with the center, saying that full separation from the Palestinians is now clearly an Israeli security need. That separation, rather than annexation of the West Bank and Gaza, may eventually lead to Palestinian statehood--not as a reward for terrorism but as a preventive measure, for the defense of Israel. 

That is certainly a different path to Palestinian statehood than most envisioned. But who, after all, could have envisioned October 7… an attack committed by the Palestinians even without the power or trappings of statehood.

Ofer Bavly is a JUF Vice President and the Director General of the JUF Israel Office. 

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