Sunday, January 02, 2011

Trying to Predict the Future on the Occasion of a New Year …

Well, we are now into the second year of this still young decade at it's hard to figure what the next ten years will be about.

I remember a conversation with my friends about the beginning and the end of decades and how they don't always perfectly line up with the calendar. For example we all agreed that the 90's began somewhere around 91 or 92, about the time Nirvana came on the scene with their first hit. The 80's are a bit tough for me since I was born in 1980, but it seems as if the last few years of the 70's could be thrown into that decade as well. The aughties are the easiest to pinpoint and have an exact date for when the decade truly began, that being September 11th of course.

So I'm left wondering what event will mark the transition from one decade to the next. What I feel pretty confident about, however, is that this decade will bring with it dramatic changes for Israel and the region. I've told people about my prediction privately, but I'll consider this post to be my official registration of the idea. Basically I believe that Israel is in store for a radical change, one that will be the most significant change since 1967, and that it will occur within about five years. I'm not certain what that change will be, but I'm certain that everyone will be able to recognize it when it happens.

Now, why do I believe this? Let's go over my reasons:

A negotiated peace is not going to happen

I've covered this in other posts, but it's worth repeating. There is no chance of there being a negotiated solution to this conflict, at least its Israeli-Palestinian component (there very may well be peace treaties with other Arab countries, but probably not). There are many reasons for this but it boils down to the fact that neither side is capable of making the necessary compromises necessary for a solution.

The status quo is about to collapse

Pressure is building, quickly, to change the situation. The international community is rapidly growing tired with the situation here, as are certain elements within the U.S. The policies of Barack Obama are evidence of this. While Israel would be happy to allow the current situation to carry on indefinitely, it certainly seems that there is an expiration date and that it is coming up soon.

The Palestinians are growing bold

Along with the growing impatience for Israel and the status quo, the Palestinians are reading the willingness of the world to support their position. They realize, more so than Israel, than a negotiated peace is not going to happen. This is why they are pushing for unilateral actions and pressure from Europe and the UN. This is also why the Palestinians are pushing for, and receiving, recognition from other countries.

There will be a trigger

Whether it’s a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians, a UN Security Council resolution calling for Israel to withdraw, or perhaps even a new war or Intafada, something will happen to crush the current quiet that has come over the region.

What will be the outcome?

So here is my official prediction. Before the end of this decade, and probably within about five years, Israel with withdraw from the majority of the West Bank. It will most likely withdraw, unilaterally, to the fence, possibly with some small changes. Israel will not withdraw from any of Jerusalem. I'm not sure how the world will react, but I think the fallout will be manageable. I'm also not sure how the Palestinians will react, nor am I certain that it matters.

Israel is quickly learning that the Gordian Knot with the Palestinians must be cut. I don't think the separation will be pretty, but I do believe that is inevitable and coming soon.

Now all that being said, would I be willing to wager money on my prediction? Not in a million years. The Middle East is a region famous for making predictions look stupid. This part of the world is simply too unpredictable to see the future clearly. But, if I had to bet money on something happening, it would look like the scenario I laid out above. I'm very curious to see how things work out.

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