Wed 21 Feb 2024 12:44 pm - Jerusalem Time

The Time for a Palestinian State Is Now

All the stars are aligning. President Biden announced his Middle East Doctrine, the Saudis signaled their intentions to normalize relations with Israel, and all the other Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan and UAE, are willing to engage in a new regional arrangement that will be able to guarantee security to Israelis and national aspirations to Palestinians.

Peace between Palestinians and Israelis based on the two-state solution is on the horizon, and it starts with the Biden administration immediately recognizing a Palestinian state.

Such a recognition—indeed, the creation of a Palestinian state itself—would kill three birds with one stone. It would isolate Iran's proxies and agents in the region, of strategic interest not just to Israel but to the U.S. as well. It would also open the door for a U.S.-Saudi security alliance involving Saudi normalization with Israel. Most importantly, it would end the war, ensuring the release of all remaining Israeli hostages and the comprehensive Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

It is imperative to ensure that Israeli forces do not have cause to return to Gaza and to end the Israeli siege. Security arrangements must include an Arab transitional force with the task of securing borders and controling those who threaten Palestinians or Israelis. The formation of this Arab force comes with a clear mandate and specific timeframe: Its main task is to receive Gaza from the Israeli forces in an organized way and hand it over to the new Palestinian government, to ensure security arrangements on the Gaza border with Israel and guarantee security for both peoples.

In line with these international and regional intentions, the plan must include two Palestinian leaders who are both opponents of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas—Mohammed Dahlan, currently one of the most influential Palestinian political leaders, and Dr. Naser Al Kidwa, the strongest candidate to lead a potential day after unified reform government.

The day after this war will require an enhanced PA with appropriate powers. Mr. Abbas should remain President of the Palestinian Authority with all the current symbols and privileges of that office, including his residence, office, staff, transport, and a budget. The President as nominal Head of the Palestinian institutions would carry out a ceremonial role like the presidents of Italy or Germany.

But executive and legislative powers must pass to a new unified government and be transferred through a prime minister responsible for the West Bank and Gaza.

Much of Gaza has faced severe destruction. The north is largely uninhabitable and without water, sewage, or power. We should comprehensively assess the power plants and electrical lines, desalination plants, reservoirs and water carriers, housing stock, hospitals, schools, farmlands, and all critical infrastructure. We should start planning this immediately, relying on satellite imagery and crowd sourced analysis.

President Biden needs to decide if he wants to go down in history as the president who signed the two state solution's birth certificate and laid out the foundation of a new Middle East built on stability, integration, cooperation, security and economic development—or if he wants to be remembered as the president who signed the death certificate of the two state solution and left the region sinking in its own misery.

We have a small window to end all this madness. The time is now.



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