Despite its fealty to the dream of two states, the Biden administration largely adopted the Trump blueprint. It had been trying to broker a deal that would normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, an even greater prize for Israel than the Gulf emirates, given Saudi Arabia’s status as the vanguard of the Arab world.
Those talks have been put on hold by the Israel-Hamas war. But if Israel were able to revive them, that could put the two-state solution back on the table. The Saudis have told Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken that they want steps toward a Palestinian state to be part of any normalization accord with Israel.
Arab countries are also likely to push for the Palestinian issue to be addressed as a condition of playing a role in stabilizing and rebuilding postwar Gaza. Dangling the prospect of a Palestinian state could reassure Egypt and Jordan, which are alarmed by the prospect of millions of refugees from Gaza.
“Part of this is to give them the framing, the packaging, they need to take part in a solution for Gaza,” said Ghaith Al-Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research organization. “That’s one reason I think the president talked about it, even if it seemed irrelevant.”
The odds of progress with the current Israeli and Palestinian leaders are nonexistent, Mr. Omari said. Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition includes ultranationalist partners who want to annex the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967 and which they refer to by the biblical names of Judea and Samaria.
At a minimum, his government was committed to rapidly expanding the number of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Since the Hamas attacks, attacks on Palestinians by settlers and Israeli troops have surged.
The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, 87, has lost legitimacy with his public, analysts said, particularly after he canceled elections in 2021. Critics say Mr. Netanyahu contributed to the weakening of the Palestinian Authority by pursuing a divide-and-conquer strategy that bolstered Hamas.