Kudos to CL!
The Arab Israeli conflict is totally within my wheelhouse - and it’s something I’ve studied for almost 20 years now (and fascinated me for as long as I can remember).
A couple of things have always stood out from my studies - moments of courage and moral and ethical clarity.
That includes Gen. Moshe Dayan’s decision to hand control of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Waqf - allowing them continued access to the Temple Mount to this day.
It includes Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem and the subsequent peace deal.
It includes Peres and Rabin laying it on the line to agree to Oslo with what in retrospect was an all too reluctant Arafat who couldn’t deliver on his promises to the West.
It includes King Hussein of Jordan making peace with Israel and not relying on land for peace.
These are the pivot points. These are the events that shape the ME conflict - and they are shaped by the personalities.
Someone who is weak, reluctant to put their life on the line will not make the necessary breakthrough. Arafat refused to make peace even after signing on the dotted line. Abbas is following in his footstep. They took the easy way out - allowing the violence to overtake them and by refusing to call out the incessant indoctrination and hatred spewed towards Israel.
What it also shows is that the peace process is moved as much by having a willing partner for peace on both sides. Begin was convinced to make peace with Sadat; Arafat was convinced to make a deal with Rabin. With Hamas now reconciling with Fatah, the possibility of a breakthrough in the stalemate is greatly diminished. The limitations of land for peace are also exposed by Hamas and Gaza - Israel withdrew unilaterally and the result was not peace, but a rocket and mortar war that continues almost incessantly since the disengagement. Settlements are not an impediment to peace - but a refusal to accept Israel’s existence - either as part of a 2-state solution or as a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian entity - is.
That isn’t to say that Israel’s decisions to go ahead with building more homes (settlements) is not always in the best interest of advancing a peace process, but I keep coming back to the fact that homes can be bought and sold. Communities can and have been transferred (they were in Sinai and the IDF forcibly removed Israelis living in Gaza and Sinai).
Harsh or collective punishment - or even perceived collective punishment in the form of airstrikes doesn’t help Israel’s cause, but when your enemy is unethical and ruthless as Hamas is, any restraint is perceived as weakness to be exploited.
It’s why Hamas can say that they’re unilaterally cease-firing, allowing Islamic Jihad to attack Israel, and Fatah can call out Israel when Israel attacks and causes civilian casualties in addition to killing terrrorists firing from within civilian areas.
But the Israel-Palestinian conflict is just a part of the larger Arab-Israeli conflict, and again it comes down to a refusal to accept what the Arab regimes have long considered an interloper and illegitimate entity and where the rhetoric borders (and sometimes crosses over into) the genocidal. Israel has to have a partner in peace here as well - and those are sorely lacking. Perhaps the best we can hope for is a status quo where the lack of an open war is the best we can do unless regimes change and stop hurling invective at Israel and begin seeing it as a possible partner in advancing human rights and the quality of life of all in the region. Clearly natural resources have not gotten it done for the ME regimes that are sitting on oodles of oil - and those pools of oil are slowly drying up. They’re going to need something different. Something more. And Israel is at the forefront of that research.