Religion, Poor Leadership Remain at Heart of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

15/11/2012 17:40 GMT | Updated 15/01/2013 10:12 GMT

America's overture to its Iraq invasion was an intensive bombing campaign nicknamed "shock and awe." Then came the US and UK troops in an eight year-long war that resulted in hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead and injured.

Yet, at the time there was just as much shock and awe at this trumped up war based on false evidence and not a single shot beforehand being fired at NATO troops.

But, let Israel react to constant provocations against its civilian and military populations and its cause for international outrage. A double, even a triple standard? Very probable since I never heard of an Iraqi missile landing in New York or London. Any nation has a right to respond militarily if attacked by enemies.

The fact remains that Israel is in a rather unique, almost no-win situation. It's the only country in the world surrounded by other countries seeking its destruction. And this pressure will continue, more because of the Palestinian Arab leadership than from popular will. For example, what other independent land, which the Gaza Strip in all but name is, has as it leadership a terrorist group in a constant state of war with it neighbor?

In case you have forgotten over the generations now, the Palestinian problem is the result of lost wars the Arabs have waged against Israel. It is not the root of the problem. Had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN partition plan there would not have been wars, war refugees and groups such as Hamas.

The root of the problem isn't even about land lost in these wars. It's about religion and tribalism inherent in poor agrarian nations that have long been theocracies. It's also a conflict of cultures... a modern progressive social democracy surrounded by Third World nations. And as long as these nations remain steeped in religion they will not accept a non-Muslim, non-Arab nation in their midst. It doesn't matter if Jewish history goes back 4,000 years there, they won't be accepted. The Arabs states chose war because then, as today, they didn't want a Jewish state there.

At least Hamas is more honest about this than Mahmoud Abbas and his PLO leadership. The PLO now see using legal and political means as the more progressive way of fighting Israel, doing to Israel what the group did to once prosperous Lebanon. But, both Hamas and the PLO still seek Israel's eventual destruction.

Most pressure on Israel these days comes from rocket attacks that ignited the current violence. It's probably fair to say most Palestinians, knowing what the Israeli response will be, could do without these provocations. But Hamas counts on devastating Israeli responses for the sake of press coverage.

That's right; Hamas is willing to sacrifice some of its own people for TV air time. And the Israelis are willing to play the game because in the Middle East, to not play the game is a sign of weakness and come-on for further terrorist attacks.

So what's the answer, a Palestinian state? I feel this is only realistic solution since the Palestinians have become a distinct Arab population unwanted by their brother Arabs and certainly not by Israel. They are a people in limbo and yet until they demand leaders who will negotiate for their good and not the good of the Arab League rejectionist stance against Israel, their hopes will not be realized.

Right now the two-state solution appears to have been replaced by a three-state solution. Until Gaza is run by people other than warlords, this will remain a densely populated terrorist enclave periodically attacking Israel.

Poverty is widespread in the Arab lands... the only Arab nations to rate a place in the UN's top 50 are the oil rich Gulf States. For any Palestinian state to live in peace with Israel, jobs and living standards will have to soar. This will take time and considerable assistance from Israel, rated 17th in the UN's top 200 nation's list (the UK is 28th). The reality is affluent democracies don't make war on each other.