Is the Arab-Israel conflict solve-able?

Encountering Peace: Israelis and Palestinians will have to come to terms with each other. But neither side is prepared to do so at this time.

A Palestinian demonstrator uses a sling to hurl stones at Israeli forces during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip June 21, 2019 (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
A Palestinian demonstrator uses a sling to hurl stones at Israeli forces during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip June 21, 2019
Oslo died long before Mahmoud Abbas declared its death. There has been no peace process for many years. Are we destined to live in conflict between Israel and Palestine forever? Perhaps.
It could be that there is no viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This has always been a real possibility. That is what is essentially behind the modus operandi of Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the past years: conflict management and not its resolution.
Given our real situation on the ground of a very strong Israel and a very weak Palestine (in both of its two main parts – West Bank and Gaza), conflict management has aimed to limit violence and rounds of low-scale warfare. The primary aim for the past Netanyahu-led Israeli governments has been to ensure that there is no real credible Palestinian partner for peace. Within Israel, the management of the conflict has aimed to mitigate the balance between competitive interests and strategies trying to keep the so-called status quo while also engaging in rapid settlement expansion, land grabs, and now, annexation.
Israel has succeeded in the shadows of ineffective and largely irrelevant international responses in the distant background. The is a general complacency of the Palestinian public – primarily just struggling to survive – that emerges from a sense of a lack of efficacy, void of strong leadership, lack of coherent strategy and no political power, accompanied by waning international, Arab, and Islamic support. This sits in the face of the security alliance between Israel and powerful Arab states against the common Iranian threat and enemy, and strong US support under Trump, which has left Israel with a more or less a free hand to do as it pleases regarding the Palestinians. The Palestinians have not been a real player within the Israeli considerations as the reality on the ground reflects.
The Israeli peace camp has shrunk to its smallest size ever, compounded by the failure of the Oslo peace process and the lack of alternatives to the die-hard believers in the two-state solution (of which I was one of the strongest advocates). The right wing has been overtaken from the days of Menachem Begin to the messianics and pseudo-messianics who either genuinely believe that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and it does not matter what Israel does –  God is on Israel’s side – or, those who believe that Israel is so strong that no one has the power to really oppose what Israel does.
On the issue of annexation, the right wing believes that Israel can annex and there will be no real repercussions – despite the threats coming from Europe and Jordan. Europe has a history of strong declarations and no genuine action.
REGARDING JORDAN, the arguments in the right-wing camp range from those who state that Jordan needs Israel more than Israel needs Jordan, to those who believe that Israel should actively work to bringing down the Hashemite Kingdom. These hard-core right-wingers believe that Jordan then becomes Palestine and the two-state solution comes into being with Israel existing from the River to the Sea and Jordan on the east becoming the homeland for the Palestinians. According to this plan, if any Palestinian in the Land of Israel wants to continue to be a Palestinian, they have a state across the river and Israel will assist them to relocate to that state. If they stay in Israel, they should accept that they can have some form of cultural and civil autonomy, but between the River the Sea there is only room for the national expression of the Jews – just as stated in the Nation-State Law.
Those of us who have a wider view of history and reality understand that between the River and the Sea the 50:50 population split of Israelis and Palestinians is going to remain for quite some time (with the tilt leaning towards Palestinian growth).
Palestinians will not flee from Palestine; Jews are also not going to fly away. The idea that we will remain in eternal conflict should not be acceptable to any individual, especially parents, on both sides of the conflict, who will have to continue to send their children to the front to die in vain.
Israelis and Palestinians will have to come to terms with each other. But neither side is prepared to do so at this time. The novel coronavirus crisis in Israel has had some positive effects on Jewish-Arab relations inside of Israel, but this is not reflected at all in politics. The new Israeli government with more than 50 Ministers and Deputy Ministers didn’t even find it appropriate to have one of those being an Arab citizen of Israel.
Israeli society is very far from rationally being able to consider building a shared society. Among Palestinians, the situation is not much better.
The anti-normalization and non-cooperation forces are much more popular than those who support any possibility of cross-border cooperation. But the walls and borders of non-engagement will have to be broken. Thirty years ago, the taboo on engagement was broken by mutual recognition of national rights, agreement to the two-state solution and working together as equals in finding solutions. The failure of Oslo rebuilt the walls and strengthened political disengagement.
We need to reengage in order to develop alternatives that we can live with. The process of developing new ideas and strategies must be done together, on equal footing, based on agreed principles that must include the view that The Land of Israel and the Land of Palestine are composed of the same geographic boundaries. Both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people have national, religious, and historic ties to all of the land.
Solutions must preserve and guarantee the rights of both peoples to have territorial expressions of the identity without negating the identity of the other side. Solutions must be practical that – first and foremost – take into account the security of all of those who are in the Land (from both sides).
This is the starting point for engagement. From these general principles we need to sit down and look forward. The starting point begins with engagement and then we will start asking the questions and take the first steps towards finding new solutions.
The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the State of Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. His latest book In Pursuit of Peace in Israel and Palestine was published by Vanderbilt University Press and is now available in Israel and Palestine.