We harbour many illusions about Israel and the Palestinians – all of them must now be dispelled

In these circumstances, it is hard to see things getting better without first getting worse. Regional stability will depend on new thinking, writes Mary Dejevsky

Thursday 13 May 2021 18:03
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<p>A Palestinian woman watches the funeral procession of Hamas military chief Bassem Issa, killed in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City, on 13 May</p>

A Palestinian woman watches the funeral procession of Hamas military chief Bassem Issa, killed in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City, on 13 May

Watching from afar the escalation of violence in and around Israel, it is oh so tempting to wring one’s hands for the umpteenth time and despair that it was, and will be, ever thus. Until and unless the Palestinians can assert their statehood within coherent borders, until and unless Israel can feel confident in its security – goals which may well be mutually exclusive – it is hard to see even the glimmer of any long-term resolution.

Yet what makes the events of the past week so additionally tragic (if that were possible) is that they have erupted at a time when the auguries looked more favourable at least for the prospect of regional stability, if not of actual peace, than they had for a long time.

Israel was basking in rare positive media coverage as it topped international league tables for its Covid vaccination campaign. Its medical and scientific prowess was receiving the accolades it deserved. It had just held yet another indeterminate election that underlined once again Israel’s democratic credentials, while also perhaps spelling the end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s long domination of his country’s politics. Change, it seemed, could be afoot, that might make a durable peace just a little more likely.

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