By William Markiewicz

Today’s BBC news showed a clip of the struggle between Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank. The host concluded that ‘sooner or later Israelis will have to make a choice between peace with the Palestinians or peace with the settlers.’ And what if even this choice will no longer be available for the Israelis?

I remember the negotiations between Rabin, Palestinians and other Arabs. It was an unexpected honeymoon story; the Arab who quoted the Bible in Hebrew, etc. etc., everybody smiling. Then came the Jewish Taliban and killed Rabin. The ambiance changed drastically. The Arabs put impossible to accept conditions on the new negotiator, Barak. Maybe Arafat was scared for his life or maybe the Arabs and Palestinians began to tire of negotiating with Israel. The situation hardened on both sides. Then, to make things worse, came the settlers to grab parts of the Palestinians’ West Bank territory which had been conceded to Palestinians in the Oslo Agreement. The Palestinian leader announced that if they “want peace, Israel should give back the land they illegally took from us.” The settlers repeated that this was land given to them by God. Biblically oriented Bush agreed and so the settlers and the Israeli right wing got an important boost from the super power. Israelis have forgotten that in a democracy, politicians may change. Then came Obama, mostly preoccupied with improving the internal situation of the US and ending conflicts where the US is involved. Now the Israelis are in conflict with Obama and they dare to challenge the superpower, counting on support from Jewish opinion in the U.S. In all this turmoil, Israelis are still persuaded that the decision belongs to them. And what if the Arabs decide that they are no longer interested in peace with Israel?

A new radicalised angry Arab generation grows up, encouraged by the growing success in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they may be willing to try suicide bombing and all other types of attacks inside Israel. Will Israel hunt the ghosts as the U.S. and allies do in Iraq and Afghanistan? If Israel attacks the Palestinians in response, we don’t know when and how the Arab world and the rest of the world may react. Israel will never increase its territory and will remain tiny among giants, mortal enemies. How may it end? If I were an Israeli politician, I would not consider that time is eternally on my side. I would be more categorical with the settlers. Who knows what time remains?

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