One way of evaluating the possible solutions to the Israel Palestine conflict is to analyse the options available to the Palestinians post-Oslo.  If ‘Oslo’ ever offered a genuine solution, which is debated, it is evident to most serious observers that it is today a seriously ‘dead duck’. So, assuming for the sake of argument a unity that exists in no other polity, what are the possible futures for Palestinians – considered as a community? It is important to note that the Palestinian community is only united in history and culture. In politics and religion the Palestinians are as fragmented as are most other communities. What are the options?

    • Option 1 is the complete defeat of Zionist Israel. In the darkest scenario that would mean the obliteration of cities, the desolation of the land and the extermination of Israeli Jews, worse than Hitler’s Holocaust in numbers although not in character. A very powerful highly militarised society cannot be compared to the Jewish people of Germany, Poland, Austria, France, et cetera. This option may be attractive to the fanatical extremists of IS but it is a nightmare for Fatah, Hezbollah even for Hamas. For the foreseeable future such obliteration must of necessity be accompanied by mutual destruction; the wasted land would stretch from Turkey to Saudi Arabia and from Libya to Pakistan, if not further. No European capital would be immune and even USA would suffer. Under present international circumstances, which show little sign of change, this option is only conceivable within the larger context of a global war.  How future generations will view their situations cannot be calculated, assuming, under this scenario, there are future generations.
    • Option 2 is the acceptance of a Palestinian state on Israel’s terms. If option 1 is the total defeat of Zionism option 2 represents total defeat for Palestinians. This scenario presupposes at least two questionable conditions. Condition 1 concerns the capacity of the Palestinian leaders to carry their community with them. Condition 2 is certainty about Israel’s terms. Perhaps surprisingly it is the latter that causes most difficulty. At various points during the last 30+ years Arab nations have been willing to accept Israel’s terms, only to discover that the terms had changed; as in any deal, it is important to read the small print.  However, assuming Palestinian leaders could get their community to agree and based on what appears to be Israel’s current terms, what would the solution look like? These briefly, are some of the problems: a) the Palestinian state would be neither independent nor viable. Consisting of at least 16 cantons entirely surrounded by Israel retaining full military control, it would have no airspace, no water and no functional economy; b) Gaza would not be included, c) refugees would remain in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
    • Option 3 is the status quo; maintain things as they are.  Gaza as an open-air prison set to be the worst place to live on earth with the expectation that the 2 million people living there would be under conditions unacceptable even a century ago. The continued gradual expansion of settlements with increasing settler violence and the likelihood of consequent violent Palestinian reaction. There is every reason to expect this to be the actual ‘chosen’ option simply because nothing else is practically speaking on the table (see below). At some point in the near future the international community and USA will begin to concern itself with both the costs and potential consequences of e.g. the Gaza disaster, [the majority in Gaza will continue to follow largely non-violent protest as long as there is hope. If it reaches the point where many, especially amongst the young, feel there is no hope, a ‘tipping point’ would be reached where they feel they have little or nothing to ose. The mass civilian ‘March of Return’ protest has resulted in many Palestinian casualties at the hands of the Israeli army. It can only get worse]
    • Option 4 is the ‘Two- State solution’. This has been and is the preferred option for most international governments that have taken a view on the situation. Statements by Israeli political leaders show that Israel is not really interested in this option. And, despite widespread international support, this solution suffers from identical problems as does option 2. It’s value is the appearance of ‘doing something’; and when ‘nothing’ is the outcome blame can be apportioned, usually on the victims. In fact option 4 is option 2 disguised as a negotiating possibility. The question that never seems to be asked by presidents, prime ministers and legislators is this: “what have the Palestinians got that they can give?” Negotiation presupposes that both parties are in a position to offer something. So what have the Palestinians got? The usual answer is that the Palestinians can offer ‘peace’.  That, however, is a smokescreen. Israel, is the most powerful military in the region and controls its peace.  Every accounting shows that it is the Palestinians who suffer most violence, and at the hands of Israel’s army and armed settlers.
    • Option 5 is a democratic regional solution enforced by the international community. This is essentially a one-state solution within a regional framework that protects the rights of all people. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that only two options are viable, 3 and 5, and only one offers hope. Are there other possibilities?
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