Apparently forty years of peace has been too much of a good thing for Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has enjoyed peace with its Arab neighbours since 1973.
Don’t blame yourself if you didn’t realize that the Middle East has
enjoyed four decades of peace. But that is precisely what has transpired
between Israel and Arab states since the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In its
first twenty-five years of independence, Israel was characterized by
multi-state war with intermittent bouts of unsuccessful diplomacy. Six
Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948; Israel fought four Arab armies in
June 1967; twelve Arab armies participated in the 1973 war. In the forty
years since, Israel has fought no wars against an Arab state, and its
history has been characterized by frequently successful diplomacy with
intermittent bouts of terrorism and asymmetric war against non-state
Conditions on the ground in the M.E. are in transition. American hegemony is in decline. China is poised to fill the vacuum. Beijing is far more interested in Arab oil than in Jaffa oranges. It is also looking for opportunities to push back against America's new military pivot into China's backyard.
France is ready to open diplomatic relations with Palestine. Netanyahu's bully boy tactics and arrogance may just get other nations to follow suit. What then? Nations with diplomatic relations can just as easily enter into all sorts of treaties including mutual defence and military assistance pacts.
What does Israel do if a mixed Chinese-Russian naval fleet begins escorting flotillas of ships into Gaza? Is Netanyahu mad enough to fire on Chinese and Russian warships?
It might not be a bad idea for Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza, to be turned into an occupied territory only, this time, with benevolent occupiers. A multi-national occupation to restore Palestine to its pre-1967 borders and maintaining a suitable demilitarized zone alone the Palestine-Israel border.
As Israeli civilians are in Palestine unlawfully, they wouldn't be expelled but, instead, relocated to pre-1967 Israel along with all the Israeli troops who have been positioned inside Palestine to protect them. Jerusalem would again be partitioned until the parties were ready to consider making it an open city.
Yes, Palestine needs to remain occupied for Israel's sake and for its own. That may mean a foreign presence for a full generation or more to allow the bad blood between Israeli and Palestinian to drain out. Anyone nearing retirement age knows that generational change can do amazing things. It's why we old geezers are always griping and moaning about how things were so much better "in our day."
Wouldn't this sort of neutral but muscular foreign occupation be infinitely better, for Israeli and Palestinian alike, than the scourge-tactics of the Israeli occupiers or, worse, the prospect of another succession of Arab-Israeli wars?