[Mahmoud] Abbas is not any more ready than his late predecessor Yasser Arafat to accept the legitimacy of Israel’s permanent existence.
This religiously-rooted rejection excludes a priori any possibility of a lasting two-state solution. …
From the orthodox Muslim point of view, the struggle against Israel is more than a “war of national liberation”: it is an act of worship for which Allah grants the mujahid either victory in this life, or eternal bliss.
Such contextualization of the conflict makes its resolution structurally impossible. It is no longer stated in the secular, “rational” terms of power, territory, resources, and guarantees. Hamas and other Islamic groups are opposed to a permanent settlement because they firmly believe it would be against Allah’s will to grant any piece of land once controlled by the faithful to non-Muslim infidels.
This ideological obstacle on the Arab-Muslim side is still relevant. It has been largely ignored by Western media and analysts, which is a major oversight. Having toured the Middle East on four occasions over the past two years, I am acutely aware of its continuing relevance. My grim summary following my 2018 visit to Lebanon is still valid, likely more so than ever before: “My interlocutors of different faiths and political persuasions agree on at least one point: that there will be no lasting peace in our lifetime.”