The Endless Occupation of Israel by Shlomo Ben-Ami

Fifty-five years after Israel began to occupy Palestinian lands, it is harder than ever to imagine a way out. The seeds of the two-state solution that were sown by visionary leaders on both sides failed to take root. What remains is a fatalistic acceptance of the insolubility of the conflict.

TEL AVIV – In the 55 years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, there have been two intifadas, four wars in Gaza and a long series of failed efforts to broker a two-state solution that roughly respects the borders of pre-1967 Israel. The situation may really be as desperate as it seems.

The intransigence on both sides – which no American president has been able to overcome, although virtually all have tried since the Six Day War – has brought us to this point. While the Palestinians have at times embraced international diplomacy, they have also engaged in periods of stubborn 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 the sentiment in Israel today, they might not get another chance. With each failure of the peace process, the promise of peace has lost its power as a mobilizing cause in Israel. Meanwhile, Israel has gradually tightened its control over the occupied territories, with virtually no international pushback. Even Arab states – six of which have normalized relations with Israel – seem to have become indifferent to the agony of the Palestinians.

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Michael A. Bynum