Israeli-Arab Relations: Muddling Through by the Sword
These developments also underscore the Israeli government's incentive to stoke conflict with, and fear of, Iran as much as possible. It was the Israeli government's interest in keeping Iran as a perpetual bugbear that underlay its posture toward the nuclear agreement with Iran—a posture that never made sense as far as the nuclear issue itself was concerned, given that the agreement severely restricts and monitors the very nuclear program about which the Israeli government had been sounding so many cries of alarm. The scaremongering about Iran serves not only as a distraction from Israeli-relevant issues and a rationale for extraordinary U.S.-Israeli ties, but also as the basis for isolation-breaking relations with the Gulf Arabs.
So the prospects for any progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace are as dim as they have been in a good while. The right-wing Israeli government is not feeling pressure to get off its destructive path. On the Palestinian side, it is not a matter of, as the Times editorial incorrectly suggests, the Palestinians having no more “interest in serious peace talks” than Israel does. Very few Palestinians want to live under the Israeli occupation, and the great majority of Palestinians recognize that serious peace talks are needed for the occupation to end. But the only tolerated Palestinian interlocutor, the Palestinian Authority, has become a sclerotic auxiliary to the occupation and has long passed its “best if used by” date. Credible secular alternatives languish in Israeli jails. (Marwan Barghouti, call your office, if you can.) The Hamas alternative, which seems poised to win municipal elections in the West Bank in October, will no doubt be the target of the same Israeli rejection of popular sovereignty that it has been when winning free elections in the past.
The gloomy prognosis is not an excuse to avoid the issue. The plight of the Palestinians is partly a matter of denial of basic human and political rights. It also has been, as the editorial correctly notes, “a source of regional tension for decades”.
Image: A road sign in Israel. Photo by Justin McIntosh, CC BY 2.0.