My $.02 is in the darker green ~ quotations and images.
Benjamin Netanyahu is in the final stages of putting together Israel's next government, which will be opposed to a two-state solution. Most importantly, the new prime minister and his Likud Party are firmly against a Palestinian state. The Labor Party, which will be part of the governing coalition and which has been identified with the two-state solution for the past two decades, did not insist that Likud support that policy as a condition for joining the government.
Its leader, Ehud Barak, merely asked for and got a vague statement saying that Israel was committed to promoting regional peace. Avigdor Lieberman, who heads Yisrael Beiteinu, the other major party in the ruling coalition, is not likely to push to give the Palestinians a viable state of their own. His main concern is "transferring" the Palestinians out of Israel so that it can be an almost purely Jewish state.
So Israel will continue expanding its settlements in the West Bank. In fact, the Israeli press is reporting that Netanyahu and Lieberman agreed in their negotiations to form a government that Israel would build 3,000 housing units in an area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim (a huge settlement bloc) known as E-1.
"The settlement of the Land of Israel is the essence of Zionism. Without settlement, we will not fulfill Zionism. It's that simple." ~ Yitzak Shamir, Maariv, 02/21/1997
Once that is accomplished, Israel will have effectively cut the West Bank in half, making it almost impossible to create a viable Palestinian state. This deal was supposed to be secret, because the United States is opposed to Israel building in the E-1 area.
The HUGE settlement bloc Maale Adumim
"We'll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We'll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years' time, neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody will be able to tear it apart." ~ Ariel Sharon
Please go HERE to Mondoweiss for Google map of Israeli settlements from leaked database. Jamie Dyer has used the information in the translated excerpts of the database to create this Google map. "Making the map helped me to see the strategic placement of these settlements. The hilltops are being systematically taken in a sort of inversion of the topography of justice," Dyer writes. Click on the blue donkeytails to get a report on each landgrab. This little map is a goldmine of information on the placement of the settlements!
The Palestinians, of course, will remain locked up in Gaza and a handful of enclaves on the West Bank. In essence, Netanyahu and his two key ministers ~ Ehud Barak (Defense) and Avigdor Lieberman (Foreign Affairs) ~ are committed to creating a Greater Israel, which will cover all of the territory that was once Mandate Palestine.
"The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. For Ever." ~ Menachem Begin, the day after the UN vote to partition Palestine
Netanyahu, like all Israeli leaders, understands this basic fact of life. He knows that he will just have to say a few nice words about the "peace process" and blame the whole thing on the Palestinians, who he believes are a bunch of terrorists anyway, and he will be pretty much free to do whatever he wants in Gaza and the West Bank.
It seems clear to me and to many smart people I know that this story does not have a happy ending. Indeed, it looks like a disastrous ending. Greater Israel cannot be a democratic state, because there will soon be ~ if there aren't already ~ more Palestinians between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea than there are Israeli Jews. So, if you give each person one vote, Israel becomes Palestine.
That is not going to happen anytime soon, if ever, which leaves two possible outcomes: apartheid and expelling the Palestinians ~ and there are more than 5 million of them ~ from Greater Israel. Talk about repulsive options.
It is worth remembering that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that if there is no two-state solution, Israel will end up in a South Africa-like situation and that will mean the end of the Jewish state. In effect, he is saying that Israel is turning itself into an apartheid state.
My bottom line is that Israel, with the backing of the lobby, is pursuing a remarkably foolish ~ Ehud Olmert would say suicidal ~ policy towards the Palestinians.
I would appreciate it greatly if Israel's American backers would explain what I am missing here. They must think that there is a happy ending to this story that Olmert and I simply fail to see. Otherwise they would not be backing the Greater Israel enterprise.
There is no need for Christian Zionists to respond, because I know what their happy ending is: the Battle of Armageddon and then the Second Coming of Christ.