1. For Israel, and its ardent supporters: The occupation has gone for far too long.
The excuses for failing to make peace have grown very thin, and are no longer believed by its own friends. For the foreseeable future Israel holds all the cards and must determine how it wishes to play them. It can no longer “hope for someone on the other side” to come forward. It controls Palestinians, their lives, their movement, and even their leadership. It holds levers over all aspects of their lives, and acts as sovereign and owner of the entire land, unrestrained by anything ( including international law, or the international community), and has successfully deflected all acts of resistance and all outside pressures. It still needs to determine, for its own purposes, at least, where it should go, and what it should do. The collapse of the moves for Palestinian statehood (celebrated by some) forces the issue of: what then? Do we rule over Palestinians forever, as non citizens? Can we accept in perpetuity that our Jewish state can only treat Palestinians as unequal in Israel, occupied in parts of the West Bank, totally besieged in Gaza, and permanently barred into exile for their diaspora? And if so, how do we “manage” this situation as a permanent state of affairs? How can we best deal with another people that we rule, but in accordance with our own ideals? Palestinians are going nowhere, so how we deal with them (sans excuses) as part of who we are or have become.
2. For Palestinians:
As hopes for a genuine independent state collapse, and the one-state solution appears even farther away, how do we struggle for our rights and dignity, and build for ourselves and our children a better future? Submission to the existing injustice is not an option. Can we find methods that are effective and goals that are achievable? Surely violence has not served us well, and is not likely to succeed against enemies who are immeasurably more powerful, better armed and organized, strategically and tactically dominant in the battlefield (and paranoid to boot). We cannot expect either the Arab world or the outside world to save us. What else can we do? Can a more assertive and better-planned and organized non-violent campaign of resistance serve us better?
3. For third parties, who are concerned about peace and justice, and who perhaps care both for Israelis and Palestinians:
Is there a path to actively be supportive of both, and work for human rights and dignity, in light of the overwhelmingly-depressive political prognosis? Despairing of an “ultimate solution,” are there interim measures we can support or work for?
To all the above, there are answers, options, and paths for action that may not lay out “THE SOLUTION” but can be worthwhile effective steps in the right direction. None of them are easy or cost free, or are guaranteed to “solve” the problem, but each can be pursued without either demanding or ruling out a political solution in the future:
1. Abandonment of the siege of Gaza, and allowing freedom of people and goods into and out of the Strip.
The siege, initially undertaken as a political move to punish Gazans for their support of Hamas, and to prevent continuity between the West Bank and Gaza as a measure to fragment Palestinians and to prevent Palestinian statehood, cannot be a permanent feature of life. With due consideration for the desire to prevent weapons from entering Gaza (a failed exercise in all cases), draconian controls over the civilian life and economy of two million souls in the Gaza Strip cannot be a permanent state of affairs. It must end. Whatever puny efforts some in Gaza may undertake to militarily resist are strategically insignificant, and in any case, cannot be completely deterred by force alone. But given the relative quiet (from Gaza’s side), the siege must be lifted. This is something all parties must work on now.