Europe and the vanishing two-state solution for Israel – Palestine

The basis for a two-state solution has been eroded almost to the point of collapse making a political breakthrough more urgent than ever. But how can Europe generate new momentum for Palestinian statehood?  


Nick Witney (ECFR Senior Policy Fellow), Rachel Shabi (journalist and author) and  Professor Rosemary Hollis (City University London)

Chaired by

Fatima Ayub (ECFR Policy Fellow)

With US Secretary of State Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary Hague placing two year and one year windows respectively on the continued vitality of the two state option, and with well-founded scepticism surrounding attempts to renew negotiations, an unlikely combination of futility and urgency pervades European policy-making circles on Israel-Palestine. US leadership remains as assumed as it is constrained, European policies, perhaps unwittingly, perpetuate the status quo. Can that change? Might Europeans generate new momentum for restraining settlements, sustaining the viability of Palestinian statehood and creating space for a political breakthrough?

ECFR Senior Policy Fellow Nick Witney will be telling us how it can be done, where Europeans are united and divided on the issue, and why a bolder approach should be something of a no-brainer, with Middle East specialist Prof Rosemary Hollis and award-winning writer Rachel Shabi offering comments and reflections. 

Rosemary Hollis is Professor of Middle East Policy Studies and Director of the Olive Tree Scholarship Programme at City University London. Prior to this, she was Director of Research at Chatham House as well as Head of the Middle East Programmes at both Chatham House and RUSI. Professor Hollis is also the author of ‘Britain and the Middle East in the 9/11 Era’.

Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author who has written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East. Her book, ‘Not the Enemy: Israel's Jews from Arab Lands’, was published in 2009. She received the Anna Lindh Journalism Award for reporting across cultures in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize the same year. She is currently a contributing writer for The Guardian.

Nick Witney joined ECFR after serving as the first Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency. His earlier career was divided between the UK diplomatic service and the UK Ministry of Defence where he served as Director-General of International Security Policy. As a diplomat, he learned Arabic in Lebanon and Jordan, and served in Baghdad and then Washington.

Fatima Ayub is a policy fellow in ECFR’s Middle East and North Africa programme. Previously, she worked as a policy and advocacy officer at the Open Society Foundation, focusing on South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. She has also worked in Afghanistan for the ICTJ, as well as for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.