European Council on Foreign Relations
Middle East experts at ECFR collaborated with a six-person advisory committee of Palestinian, Israeli and international experts to determine the seven indicators assessed. The indicators were: territory, Jerusalem, security, refugees, diplomacy, the Israeli political debate and Palestinian political debate.
The first four indicators — considered “final-status issues” — were deferred at the beginning of the Oslo process in the hope that mutual confidence established by implementing the agreement would create conditions more conducive to resolving intractable differences, although the opposite has occurred. The latter three indicators assessed the political contexts in which the two sides approached core issues.
According to researchers, the two factors found to place the most strain on a two-state solution were the “territorial issue” and “the dynamics of the Israeli political and public debate.”
Researchers noted strain added by the decreasing physical space available to establish a territorially contiguous Palestinian state, as a result of ongoing Israeli settlement growth. They noted that as of July 2013, there were 367,000 Israeli settlers in the Israeli occupied West Bank, whereas the total had been a little over 100,000 at the beginning of the Oslo process 20 years ago.
Israeli discourse also strained the likelihood of realizing two states. Levy said the “indifference of the Israeli public” to the Palestinian issue and “a government that includes – something that is relatively new – a significant cohort opposed to two states, and who say that there are other options” has weakened the appeal of the two-state paradigm in Israel.
Palestinian public opinion also added strain, though somewhat less. While a bare majority of Palestinians still supported the two-state solution, researchers found that only 47 percent believed a deal would ever be struck.
Researchers also found that the ongoing schism between rival Palestinian polities in Gaza, run by Hamas, and the West Bank, run by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party; as well as the failure to hold national and legislative elections, made the prospect of rallying national legitimacy for any deal nearly impossible.