On Wednesday, during their joint White House press briefing, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hammered the final two nails in the coffin of Palestinian statehood and presided over the burial of the two-state paradigm for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Untethered from the pressures exerted on him during the Obama administration to pay lip service to the idea of Palestinian statehood, Netanyahu let loose his real feelings on the subject in the presence of a president far more sympathetic to his worldview.
The creation of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu thundered, would lead to "another failed state, another terrorist Islamist dictatorship that will not work for peace but work to destroy us." Therefore, "in any peace agreement," Netanyahu declared, "Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River."
In other words, in Netanyahu's formulation, Israel will retain sovereignty over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — those Palestinian territories militarily occupied by Israel for the past 50 years, areas which are supposed to form a future Palestinian state under the terms of previous negotiations.
For Trump, Netanyahu's definitive discarding of Palestinian sovereignty was a matter of sublime indifference, notwithstanding two decades of declared bipartisan U.S. policy in support of Palestinian statehood. "So I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like," Trump quipped.
Intent on working "very, very diligently" on a "great peace deal" between Israel and the Palestinians, the president initially thought that "two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best."
But for a president who fancies himself as the ultimate dealmaker, Trump seemingly does not realize how diametrically opposed and irreconcilable Netanyahu's one-state vision is with the Palestinians'.
The entrenched one-state reality that Israel has created through its relentless colonization of Palestinian land in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (Israel's settler population grew by more than 100,000 during the Obama era), has already resulted in a separate-and-unequal status for generations of Palestinians subjected to brutal military rule.
Netanyahu's ideal post-two-state scenario would be to permanently subjugate and disenfranchise these Palestinians by annexing as much of their land as feasible while devolving to them as little power as possible. Thus, Israel would extend its sovereignty over the Palestinian West Bank while relegating its indigenous inhabitants to a limited autonomy in isolated enclaves. Palestinians would have no citizenship rights and therefore no say over the policies of the government ruling over them.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip — already subject to more than a decade-long Israeli blockade and intermittent, devastating Israeli attacks — would remain in a state of extraterritorial limbo, denationalized and left in their open-air prison to the mercies of their Israeli jailers.
Palestinian citizens of Israel — barely tolerated today in the Israeli body politic — would remain subject to the dozens of discriminatory laws against them which infringe upon their right to equality in nearly every field imaginable, from education to land use to social services. And Palestinian refugees exiled from their homes by Israel during its creation in 1948 would continue to be denied by Israel their internationally recognized right of return.
Let's call this bleak one-state vision what it is: apartheid.