Israel holds the Palestinian people captive because it believes it has no choice. While no Israeli leader will come right out and say it, there's no way the country will restore the Occupied Territories to the Palestinians. No Israeli government is prepared to see their country withdrawn to its pre-1967 borders.
There is an alternative, a one state solution, that would make Israeli and Palestinian equal citizens. The problem there is demographic. The Palestinians are a good deal more reproductive, meaning Arabs would fairly quickly outnumber Jews and they might take their revenge for the past half-century at the ballot box.
The third option, ethnic cleansing, is the worst of all. The forced expulsion of the Palestinians to an Arab country, most likely Jordan, would be roundly condemned worldwide and leave Israel with a whole list of new enemies. It's hard to imagine any leader this side of Stephen Harper who would tolerate it.
But it could be Israel's real demographic problem isn't the one at home. It's the demographic shift underway in Israel's one key ally and protector, the United States. From Haaretz:
...the United States is becoming, in important ways, a different country. Benjamin Netanyahu does not like Barack Obama; you may not either. But Obama is not an aberration; he is not a passing phase. He is the face of 21st century America. He will leave office in two years, but the coalition that elected him - minorities and Millennials - will grow in strength. In all likelihood, it will shape American politics for decades to come.
Obama is president because, twice now, he won overwhelming majorities among racial and ethnic minorities. In 2012, he won 71 percent of the Latino vote, 73 percent of the Asian vote and 93 percent of the African-American vote. And he is president because, twice now, he won an overwhelming majority among those younger voters who entered adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. In 2012, these "Millennials" backed Obama at a rate of 67 percent.
It is a virtual certainty that, in the years to come, both minorities and Millennials will rise as a share of the American electorate. It is a virtual certainty because Latinos and Asians are America's fastest growing ethnic groups, and because Millennials are still reaching voting age. In 2012, according to the political demographer Ruy Teixeira, minorities and Millennials togehter comprised 43 percent of America's eligible voters. (Obviously, some Americans fall into both categories). By 2020, if current trends continue, that share will rise to above 50 percent. By 2050, it will be almost 65 percent.
...None of this means reelecting Bibi will change Israel’s relationship with the United States overnight. It won’t. But by entrenching Israeli control over the West Bank, and moving Israel ever closer to what Ehud Barak,Ehud Olmert and now Meir Dagan have called an apartheid state, Bibi is putting Israel on an ideological collision course with the people who will likely dominate American politics in the years to come. He’s alienating the young and non-white voters who backed Obama not merely because he’s treated Obama with disrespect but, more fundamentally, because he flouts the values that led them to support Obama in the first place.