Only Biden and M.B.S. Can Redirect the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

One of the most unexpected developments in the Israel-Hamas war is the emergence of a powerful alignment of interests and incentives for Israel, the Palestinians, America and Saudi Arabia to all get behind a pathway to a Palestinian state that can live in peace alongside Israel.

For starters, moving toward a Palestinian state — once this war ends — is the key for Israel reconnecting with important constituencies around the world, it’s the key to an eventual secure pathway out of Gaza and it is the cement for the regional alliance Israel needs to protect itself.

I understand why many in an Israeli society still traumatized by the Hamas surprise attack on Oct. 7 don’t want to hear talk of a Palestinian state, even in a demilitarized form. But for many Israelis that was true for years before the Gaza war. To continue ignoring the subject now would be a grave error. Israel needs to shape it, not ignore it.

If Israel destroys Hamas, and then decides to permanently occupy Gaza and the West Bank, rejecting any form of Palestinian statehood, Israel will become a global pariah for the next generation, and particularly in the Arab world. This will force Israel’s Arab allies to distance themselves from the Jewish state.

And if Israel remains in perpetual conflict with the Palestinians, the entire architecture of America’s Middle East strategy — particularly the crosscutting peace treaties that we’ve forged between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf nations — will come under pressure, complicating our ability to operate in the region and opening it to much more influence by Russia and China. Given the deaths of so many thousands of Gazan civilians, the U.S. is already having some difficulty using its military bases in Arab countries to counter Iran’s malign network of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Shiites militias in Iraq.

And the Saudis need a pathway to a Palestinian state in order to normalize ties with Israel and thereby win support in the U.S. Congress for some kind of new U.S.-Saudi security pact.

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