Published in September 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
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Peace in the Middle East
I am a former foreign office colleague of Tom Phillips (“Failure is the most likely outcome,” August) from the late 1990s, when we dealt with Balkan issues. I recall President Izetbegovic telling me that the Bosniac Muslim community in Bosnia was so small it could not afford “ethnic disarmament” until it was quite sure that its neighbours (the Serbs and Croats) were not bent on scattering it.
The underlying dynamic in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as simple. Neither side sees any advantage in “ethnic disarmament.” The emerging Arab mainstream is content to erode Israel’s resistance by creating endless and unpleasant—if not violent—existential uncertainty. The Israeli leadership responds by digging in hard. The Palestinians are collateral damage. Phillips’s article acknowledges this.