What is the end game of the current round of Israeli-Palestinian violence? Is there a way out of the current spiral of violence?
I remain very pessimistic about the long-term prospects of any reconciliation between Israel and Palestine. Too many people are making too many claims on too little land.
Three of four scenarios I have devised of possible Israel-Palestine relations are all negative.
First, there is the continuation of the current "business as usual" scenario. This is a continuation of the challenges since Israel's formation back in 1948: times of "peace" interspersed with violence.
The problem with modern urban guerrilla warfare is that it seems to be a war without end. This is very different from, say, World War II, when the European war ended when the Allies reached Berlin and Hitler was dead. Now conflicts just seem to drag on, with dead leaders being replaced by new leaders and the momentum maintained. There is no clear vision of what constitutes "victory".
Each new round of conflict plants the seeds of the next round. Imagine being a child in Gaza; living through all the current suffering provides an incentive to continue the violence when you grow up – and Gaza has one of the world's most fertile populations. There are many young people to continue the struggle. Similarly, today's young Jews will have a similar determination to settle old scores.
Second, the "one Israel" scenario would see the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza and the 3 million Palestinians on the West Bank all living within a greater Israel (alongside the 10 million people, 73 per cent of whom are Jewish) all governed from Jerusalem, forming one country.
The long-term threat to the current Jewish majority would come from Palestinian maternity wards. Palestinians tend to have large families and so eventually a majority of the enlarged population would be Palestinian.
Orthodox Jewish families also tend to have large families. Ironically therefore modern liberal cosmopolitan Jews (who tend not to have large families) will find themselves squeezed between two larger conservative Islamic and Jewish religious factions.
This in turn is part of the new trend in Middle East politics: the return of religion. The founders of modern Israel in 1948 tended to be idealistic socialists or at least some form of left-wing politicians, for whom Judaism was a type of personal identity rather than the religious driving force. Now the current government is partly driven by religious Jewish hardliners.
Israel's political system reflects all shades of the country's opinion and so most governments have to be coalitions, incorporating members from small parties as well as the large ones. Given their parlous situation, Israelis have to take their politics seriously. Israel is a nation of 10 million prime ministers.
Similarly, the early post-World War II Arab nationalist parties tended to be socialist, such as Yasser Arafat's Fatah party, which became the dominant faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
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