Connect to share and comment

Opinion: Gaza and the future of Israel

The two-state solution has become a mirage.


That hatred has further delegitimized Israel in the eyes of the Palestinians and deepened their resolve to reclaim all of Palestine. Israeli settlement building on the West Bank also seems to preclude the establishment of a viable Palestinian homeland. According to a recent article by
Gershon Gorenberg in Foreign Policy, Israeli settlers living on the West Bank and Gaza numbered 116,000 in 1993 at the beginning of the Oslo process.

When that processed collapsed in 2000, there were 198,000 settlers. In 2003, when Ehud Olmert was Sharon’s Deputy Prime Minister and publicly advocated an Israeli withdrawal from the “territories,” 236,000 Israelis were there. After the Gaza withdrawal in 2006, 253,000 Israelis lived on the West Bank (or Judea and Samaria as some would prefer). When Olmert resigned the premiership in 2008, there were 290,000 settlers on the West Bank. (Another 187,000 Israelis were living in annexed East Jerusalem).

The thought of getting a substantial majority of those Israeli citizens off occupied Palestinian territory — even given land swaps — is likely to prove an overwhelming task to any Israeli government, based as it must be on a coalition of parties, some seeking to retain the territories.

So it is with West Bank land requisitioned by Israel for the network of roads connecting settlements to each other and to Israel proper. A settler need no longer travel on a road with local Palestinians. The “security fence” and wall, in turn, have taken more land from the West Bank than the settlements and roads combined.

What then for the future of Israel? Olmert once declared that his job was to keep the 400,000 Israelis crucial for the success of the country in Israel — to convince them not to emigrate. The 400,000 are the scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, business people, administrators, academicians, journalists who make the modern state of Israel successful. With greater Palestinian-Arab hatred and the two-state solution more distant, more of the 400,000 will now be leaving Israel for good. As a result, those who will be left in Israel will mean the country will be more religious, less Western, less like the image American Jews have of Israel. It will become more Orthodox, more fanatic, more militaristic.

Israelis may not adopt the customs of the Palestinians. But, remember, the Israelites of the Old Testament came to be more like the Moabites. So will the future Israel become more like the Palestinians, the people they have come to hate.

Marvin Zonis is a professor emeritus at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, where he teaches courses on International Political Economy, Leadership, and Business Strategy. He also heads Marvin Zonis + Associates, Inc., a political risk consulting firm in Chicago.

More GlobalPost dispatches about Israel:

Views from the center of the world

Netanyahu: A pragmatic ideologue