Israel’s Endless Occupation by Shlomo Ben-Ami


Fifty-five years after Israel began occupying Palestinian lands, it is more difficult than ever to imagine a way out. The seeds of the two-state solution that were planted by visionary leaders on both sides have failed to take root. All that remains is a fatalistic acceptance of the conflict’s insolubility.

TEL AVIV – In the 55 years Israel has been occupying Palestinian lands, there have been two intifadas, four wars in Gaza, and a long series of failed efforts to negotiate a two-state solution roughly adhering to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The situation may truly be as hopeless as it seems.

Intransigence on both sides – which no US president has managed to overcome, though virtually every one since the Six-Day War has tried – has gotten us to this point. While the Palestinians have sometimes embraced international diplomacy, they have also engaged in periods of obdurate resistance. It was the Palestinians who thwarted two promising peace initiatives, led by the forward-looking Israeli governments of Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.

Given sentiment in Israel today, they might not get another chance. With each failed peace process, the promise of peace has lost its potency as a mobilizing cause in Israel. Meanwhile, Israel has gradually tightened its control over the occupied territories, with virtually no international pushback. Even the Arab states – six of which have normalized ties with Israel – seem to have grown indifferent to the agony of the Palestinians.

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