The U.S. presidential election on November 3 promises to be one of the most consequential in recent memory, with far reaching implications for Americans and the global community alike. Insofar as Israelis and Palestinians are concerned, the differences between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger former Vice-President Joe Biden could not be more stark. In his distinctly iconoclastic approach to the conflict, Trump has upended one sacred pillar of international diplomacy after another, including the long-cherished goal of two states for two peoples in Israel and Palestine and the very principles that undergird it. For his part, Biden has pledged to reverse the most destructive of these policies in a bid to salvage what remains of a two-state solution and restore U.S.-Palestinian relations.
Nonetheless, despite their radically different approaches to Israel/Palestine, realities on the ground under a second Trump term or a Biden administration may ultimately produce the same outcome: the death of a two-state solution and the consolidation of a one-state reality. In the end, the future of the conflict and its resolution may have less to do with who resides in the White House than with developments within the Palestinian national movement.
Trump’s Continued Assault on Two States
Since Trump’s decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, overturning seventy years of U.S. policy and a longstanding international consensus, his administration has systematically worked to dismantle what remained of the Oslo Peace Process and the prospect of a genuine two-state solution. The Trump administration has recognized Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, scrubbed references to Israeli “occupation” from the U.S. government’s lexicon, and unilaterally declared that Israeli settlements were not illegal. In doing so, it has mounted a full frontal assault on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and the “land for peace” formula, which have undergirded both U.S. policy and the peace process for more than half a century.
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