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Foreign Affairs admits Israel has destroyed the ‘two-state solution’

New article suggests unconditional backing of Israel may be losing support

Middle EastHuman Rights

An elder waves the Palestinian flag near the boundary with Israel, east of Gaza City. Photo from Flickr.

Foreign Affairs is the magazine of the US foreign policy elite. Published by the Council on Foreign Relations, a meeting place for the political and business aristocracy to discuss issues relevant to US global power, the first issue included contributions from former Secretary of War and Secretary of State Elihu Root, former Harvard President Charles W. Eliot, and John Foster Dulles, then a “financial expert,” later a supporter of the Nazi government, and later still Eisenhower’s staunchly anti-communist secretary of state.

In 1947, Foreign Affairs publish George Kennan’s “Sources of Soviet Conduct” (also known as the “X” article), in which he claimed the Kremlin was committed to controlling “every nook and cranny… in the basin of world power,” and that Washington needed to “contain” Soviet influence by serving as a “counterforce” that could “increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate.”

The containment strategy was a defining feature of the US in the Cold War. It became official state policy when Truman’s National Security Council issued NSC-4A, which instructed the CIA to undertake “covert psychological activities” in support of anti-communism around the globe. Later, NSC-10/2 authorized the US state to undertake international efforts in “propaganda, economic warfare,” “sabotage,” and “subversion against hostile states including assistance to underground resistance movements.” Many consider Kennan’s article in Foreign Affairs the first articulation of this aggressive containment policy.

In addition to first publishing Kennan’s theory of containment, Foreign Affairs also published Harvard professor Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” article in 1993. Written in the triumphal hysteria of the Soviet Union’s collapse, Huntington claimed that with the overthrow of Soviet-style socialism, the age of ideology had ended; now, civilizations (or civilizational identities) were driving global conflicts. As such, major geopolitical disagreements of the day were primarily cultural rather than economic. This theory became the neoconservative explanation for terrorist attacks by Islamist groups and was adopted as the Bush administration’s framing of the War on Terror.

Throughout its history, Foreign Affairs has served as a forum for the mandarins of US imperialism to air such theories and debate ways to maintain or expand Western (and primarily US) dominance of the globe. As such, it is significant that the magazine recently published an article titled “Israel’s One-State Reality” that not only acknowledges the death of the two-state solution. The article goes further, correctly noting that the Israeli government’s drive to enshrine “Jewish supremacy over all Palestinians who remain there” is the reason that the two-state solution is no longer viable—and that Israel’s one-state apartheid system may end up damaging US influence in the long run.

In February 2022, Amnesty International recognized the reality that has been known to Palestinians since 1948: Israel is an apartheid state that “imposes a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians across all areas under its control.” B’Tselem, a human rights NGO based in Jerusalem, has also acknowledged that Israel “employs a regime of Jewish supremacy between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

While Israel has always been an apartheid state, the actions of the current coalition government—which many Israelis themselves have described as fascist—aim to cement the regime of Jewish supremacy even further. Even in the US and Canada, two of Israel’s most unwavering allies, it has been impossible to hide the fascist politics of powerful people in the coalition government. Itamar Ben-Gvir, current Minister of National Security, used to hang a portrait of mass murderer and terrorist Baruch Goldstein in his living room. Bezalel Smotrich, current Minister of Finance and administrator of the occupied West Bank, has described himself as a “homophobe, racist [and] fascist” and denied the existence of the Palestinian people.

At the same time, pogroms in towns like Huwara have effectively been endorsed by the state, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly criticized settler extremists for “taking the law into their own hands.” Smotrich, meanwhile, celebrated the Huwara pogrom and called for the town to be “wiped out” by the Israeli army.

Recently, government attempts to strip power from the judiciary were met with unprecedented protests across Israel. While the reforms have been delayed, Netanyahu has given concessions to the extreme right in order to stay in power, such as allowing Ben-Gvir to create a “national guard” under his control, which critics have labelled a private militia.

By allying with the likes of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, Netanyahu has taken the country so far to the right that he appears to be causing tensions with Israel’s most powerful backers in the West. The recent article in Foreign Affairs shows how this tension is influencing the thinking of an element of the US foreign policy elite.

Co-authored by four professors from George Washington University and the University of Maryland, two of whom are senior fellows at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Brookings Institution, the article begins:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in Israel with a narrow, extreme right-wing coalition has shattered even the illusion of a two-state solution… it is no longer possible to avoid confronting a one-state reality. Israel’s radical new government did not create this reality but rather made it impossible to deny. The temporary status of “occupation” of the Palestinian territories is now a permanent condition in which one state ruled by one group of people rules over another group of people.


The authors acknowledge that “Palestinians are permanently treated as a lower caste” in all areas under Israeli rule. They assert:

Policymakers and analysts who ignore this one-state reality will be condemned to failure and irrelevance, doing little beyond providing a smokescreen for the entrenchment of the status quo… Some implications of this one-state reality are clear. The world will not stop caring about Palestinian rights, no matter how fervently many supporters of Israel (and Arab rulers) wish they would. Violence, dispossession, and human rights abuses have escalated over the last year, and the risk of large-scale violent confrontation grows with every day that Palestinians are locked in this ever-expanding system of legalized oppression and Israeli encroachment.


The authors criticize Joe Biden for being totally committed to the status quo, doing nothing beyond “crisis management and mouthing displeasure.” As this is a Foreign Affairs article, their criticism is rooted in concern for US global standing, and the implications of Israel’s extreme-right turn on American interests in the region. In one passage, they write that the Netanyahu-led coalition government will likely incite “profound instability” in West Asia, “and a challenge to [the US government’s] broader global agenda.”

The article also recognizes that apartheid, defined by the International Criminal Court as “a legalized scheme of racial segregation and discrimination [that is] deemed a crime against humanity,” has moved to the mainstream of international discussions about Israel. The Israeli government’s rightward drift and its destruction of the two-state possibility have made its apartheid system harder to ignore.

The now meaningless “peace process” served as an excuse for Western observers to overlook Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and its treatment of areas under its occupation—if a Palestinian state was possible, the argument went, then Israel’s domination would eventually recede and the Palestinians would be allowed to organize themselves according to their own wishes. That didn’t happen, and it won’t.

“All these diversions are gone,” the authors write. “The one-state reality has long been embedded in Israeli law, politics, and society… Daily acts of violence and sporadic bouts of popular upheaval—perhaps even a full third Intifada—seem inevitable.”

Under President Donald Trump, Washington made efforts to separate Israel’s normalization with Arab countries from Palestinian rights, a campaign that culminated in the Abraham Accords. However, Palestine remains an important issue to people across the region. The authors note that if the Israeli government expels Palestinians from the West Bank or Jerusalem, or takes actions that provoke the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, regional protests would be widespread and difficult for the US and its client states to manage, especially given the role that Hamas and Iran would play in such a conflagration.

As the possibility of a greater conflict rises, Washington continues to cling to outdated rhetoric around Israel-Palestine—a persistence that is wholly out-of-step with the US public, whose religious right-wing is slowly becoming the only demographic that supports unconditional support for Israeli policies.

The authors suggest that Washington should condition its military and economic aid to Israel “on clear and specific measures to terminate Israel’s military rule over the Palestinians.” If Israel refuses, they write, the US should reduce aid and level sanctions against the state. At the same time, they argue that Washington needs to stop “shielding Israel in international organizations” and “vetoing UN Security Council resolutions that aim to hold Israel accountable.”

“By finally confronting the one-state reality and taking a principled stand,” they conclude, “the United States would stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.”

Despite the article’s flaws—an odd reference to the dangers of a “populist world,” a clearly fanciful view of “liberal democracies” and the “liberal international order,” and unwarranted praise for Biden’s supposedly “full-throated defense of international laws and norms” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—this is an important piece of writing that calls for a wide-ranging reappraisal of US-Israel relations. The fact that it appears in Foreign Affairs makes it even more fascinating, and suggests that amongst a certain segment of the America’s foreign policy elite, the unconditional backing of Israel may be losing support.

Owen Schalk is a writer from Manitoba. His book on Canada’s role in the war in Afghanistan will be released by Lorimer in September. You can preorder it here. To see more of his work, visit www.owenschalk.com.

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