I don't write much on Israel-Palestine. Never have. I have one piece in an edited volume--and it is the conclusion. I have had a few PhD students who work on that part of the world. Otherwise, I avoid the topic like a plague despite having worked on ethnic conflict all my career (and religion is included in my definition of ethnicity by the way). Why? Is it because a brief speculation about how my stuff applied blew up in my face at my second job talk? Probably not.
Is it because some impossible problems are so frustrating that it hurts to think about them? Maybe.
All I know is that the status quo sure as hell seems unsustainable for Israel and probably for the Palestinians. The old mantra that Israel can be democratic or Jewish but not both seems to becoming true. The leadership of both sides have not covered themselves in glory for the couple of decades.
And now the politics is getting more self-destructive. The more people settled in the West Bank means that there are more voters in the West Bank, which then creates more political heft for those who want more settlements. This creates a built in lobby for ... irredentism. Yes, enlarging the state of Israel to include more and more of the West Bank is irredentism. And the problem for Israel is what happens when you include all of this territory in the political system--with the Palestinians who reside in these areas?
I have not followed the situation so closely to understand what is going on with Hamas, but I would imagine that an inability to deliver the goods of governance might lead to a greater dependence on symbolic politics and on provoking Israel.
I am confused about much stuff. For instance, the initial story that has now exploded into renewed conflict was about a few Jewish kids being kidnapped and then killed. The coverage makes it sound like this was Hamas strategy. But was it? Does Hamas control all violence aimed at the Israelis? Probably not. Just as the initial violence responding to the teens' deaths was not state-sponsored either. Indeed, the loss of control over the process is an inevitable part of this, as the prolonged nature of the conflict leaves many on all sides dissatisfied with how their leaders are handling it.
What is the U.S. to do? Not sure. The Obama Administration has entered these waters a couple of times, and have had little gained from it. Netanyahu has done his best to crap all over Obama, so the U.S. has little ability to shape Israel's responses. This would be a bad time to cut the flow of dollars to Israel, but I wish Obama had taken a stronger stand earlier when Netanyahu kept building more settlements. But, again, Netanyahu has his own political games at home that trump outside pressure or the long term costs.
And this is why I don't write about this conflict--too depressing, too frustrating, and too unlikely to get resolved anytime soon.