Archive for March, 2011

Questions of statehood. Walls. Possible human rights violations. Checkpoints. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is ongoing, and continues to mar both Israel’s record and ongoing efforts towards overall stability in the area.

At the heart of the problem is the creation of Israel itself. The Jewish state was carved out of land that, at the time, belonged to the Palestinians. The displaced population’s anger directed at the new country became entangled in the policies of several of the Arab states. Israel responded by displacing even more people and building new settlements in predominantly Palestinian areas.

In the long term, a Palestinian state is likely to be the only solution. But it is hard for the Israeli government to negotiate with terrorists – and terrorist acts have certainly been perpetuated by Palestinian extremists. Many Palestinians consider the Israelis to be terrorists. In some parts of the country, the conflict has the qualities of a blood feud. Each death breeds more deaths.

Making real progress, too, would require uniting the Palestinians, but that is harder than it seems. Divided in methods and even, in some places, in cause, the Palestinian people have no united front to present to Israel and the world. With the construction of the infamous fence, the Israeli government has taken a hard line stance that seems to show an unwillingness to even look at the problem.

Between all of these factors, it appears that the conflict is a long-term feature of regional politics. It has lasted for decades and is likely to last for decades more. As unstable as the current situation is, it seems to have an odd kind of equilibrium to it, as if it has become the way things are done around here. It might look to the outsider to be completely untenable, but it seems as if nothing is ever going to change.

Is there a solution? Perhaps the proverbial ‘take the leaders and lock them in a room until they come to some kind of agreement’ is the only answer, but sadly not one the leaders are likely to agree to. Meanwhile, the ordinary people have developed abiding hatreds that may make it almost impossible for them to live in peace.