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The Two-State Solution in the Twenty-First Century

The October 7 terrorist attack against Israel showed that the status quo in the Middle East is as dangerous as it is unsustainable. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians, based on a two-state solution, is not just a lofty diplomatic dream; for the sake of global stability in the twenty-first century, it is a practical political necessity.

BERLIN – Hamas’s terrorist attack on October 7 has disabused many of us of our preconceived notions about the conditions for peace in the Middle East and the wider world. We are still reeling from the horrors of that day. In launching its attack, Hamas easily overcame Israel’s high-tech border security barriers without encountering any organized resistance. Its militants were able to slaughter more than 1,200 Israelis (mostly civilians) and take more than 200 hostages back to Gaza – broadcasting much of the carnage on social media.

How could this have happened? With the strongest army and the best intelligence services in the Middle East, Israel presumably tracks all terrorist activities and threats on both sides of its borders. Yet it was caught off guard by a group operating strictly from the isolated and closely monitored enclave of Gaza.

The events of October 7 shattered many illusions. Outside observers and participants alike had come to believe that the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was irresolvable, and thus only manageable. The new hope was that Israel could make peace and establish diplomatic relations with neighboring Arab countries without resolving or even paying attention to the Palestine question. Peace in the Middle East would be achieved without involving the Palestinians or creating a Palestinian state. We now know that this was an illusory goal.