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Medical workers approach the Israel-Gaza border fence on May 15, 2018. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Anyone viewing this week's split-screen images of happy Israelis and Americans celebrating the U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem alongside the confrontation and killing at the Israeli-Gaza border fence could be forgiven for writing off the prospects for peace.

Where it stands: Whether the two-state solution is merely dead or fully dead and buried, a number of factors have combined to stall its progress and make further deterioration much more likely. Yet in a Friday morning conversation I moderated at the Wilson Center with PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and former Israeli negotiator Gilad Sher, a mutual conviction that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved still emerged.

The players:

  • Netanyahu and Abbas: A deal will require committed leaders who are masters of their politics, not prisoners of their ideologies and constituencies. Abbas is too weak, unpopular and attached to inflexible negotiating positions, while Netanyahu has no intention of becoming the prime minister who divides Jerusalem and returns Israel to anything close to its June 1967 borders. Given the Hamas-Fatah split, the PLO cannot even claim that it controls all the guns of Palestine, let alone that it speaks for two million Gazans. Indeed, Hamas' orchestration of the March of Return and demonstrations in Gaza has further revealed that it’s on the front lines and Abbas is on the sidelines.
  • Trump administration: Opening an embassy in Jerusalem — tacit validation that Israel controls the city's east and west alike — has undermined the administration’s ability to be an effective, let alone honest, broker. If its pro-Israeli approach to Jerusalem and other issues isn’t balanced out in the administration's larger plan, it will fail, further diminishing U.S. credibility.
  • Arab states: Exhausted and fatigued by the Palestinian issue, key Arab states — most notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE — are more concerned by the threats from Iran and Sunnis jihadis and less inclined to fight for the Palestinian issue, much less press the U.S. for action. In fact, these states are moving closer to the Israelis, which has shifted pressure from the Palestinian issue.

The bottom line: For now, the Israeli-Palestinian arena will continue to see both confrontation and accommodation. Israelis, Palestinians and any would-be mediators are likely to remain caught between a two-state solution still too important to abandon and one that’s now just too hard to negotiate and implement.

Aaron David Miller is vice president for new initiatives and director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center and a former Middle East analyst and negotiator at the State Department.

Go deeper

57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.