OPINION

The road of no return

Events in the Middle East show us that Israel is stuck in a situation of its own creation. The country’s leadership once had two paths from which to choose. The first was to make life so impossible for the Palestinians that they would eventually give up and leave. The second was to allow them to create a functional state within the 1967 borders in the hope that one day they would be able to reach a modus vivendi. The choice was unfortunately imposed by the more extreme players and a policy of creating expansionist settlements drove the Israelis onto a path of no return. The settlements, at first used as a card for negotiations, became an end in their own right, and at a terrible cost. They also made impossible the likelihood of a unified, viable Palestinian state. There is no doubt that certain leaders in the Arab world have their fair share of the responsibility for the mess today, leaders who use their people’s anti-Israeli ire in pursuit of their own domestic goals and do nothing to help the Palestinians. The Palestinian leadership is also responsible for missing many opportunities for talks and for allowing corruption to eat away at it. There are also a string of American presidents, with the exception of George Bush Sr, who were swayed by the pro-Israel lobby. The situation now, however, is critical. The Palestinians have become a desperate neighbor that will never be able to reach an agreement with Israel. The Palestinians that remain will not run away, but will turn to extremist terrorism. Meanwhile, the younger generation of Israelis are not the hardened fighters of the past. The leaders that could have led their people to a compromise, Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin, are no more. For as long as we have Hamas, which wants to wipe Israel off the map, and Israeli politicians who do not want the burden of bold political decision-making, the mix will continue to be explosive. The only ones who are pleased with this outcome are al-Qaida recruiters who are certain to find a warm response to their threats of delivering a final blow to Israel.