An extract from an article by Timothy Wright in The Catholic Herald, subsequently reprinted in The Catholic News:
ALEX SINCLAIR, writing in the Jerusalem Post, states that there is no such thing as "the Middle East conflict" and goes on to explain what he sees as the two ongoing conflicts. "The first is between Israel and the Arabs; the second is between Israel and the Palestinians." Sinclair holds that Israel's existence faces a genuine threat from enemies -- including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah, and Khaled Mashal of Hamas -- who wish Israel to disappear from the face of the earth, "who take delight in the murder of innocent Israelis.. and who have no interest in peace with what they call 'the Zionist entity' ". In this Israeli-Arab conflict, Sinclair argues, Israel is the victim.
But he goes on to acknowledge that the Palestinians, the only people in the Middle East who are currently denied their right to self-determination, feel they are the ones who face the genuine existential threat. Israel "still controls their lives in innumerable ways...
"For the Israelis, through their prism, are correct in thinking that they are the victims; for the Arab world, through their prism, are correct in thinking that the Palestinians are the victims. And a conflict in which each side thinks that it is the victim is unlikely to be resolved."
THINGS WILL ONLY IMPROVE when both parties feel able to talk, to look through each other's prisms, perhaps. Sadly, events of recent weeks have shown that compromise is not on the horizon.
There is not enough space to provide the separation needed for each to survive... Both Israelis and Palestinians are so focused on their past that they limit room for manoeuvre in the present. The forward goals are merely short-term. Anything else would require trust, but, it seems to me, the two peoples do not trust themselves, each other, or outsiders. Any serious dialogue is impossible in the absence of trust.
... But the first steps are clear. Israel should first reach out to Palestinian families who lost land and compensate them generously. Palestinians should then, in turn, find it easier to recognize Israel's right to exist, thus laying the foundation for peace.
From this, there could be a full discussion of boundaries and security, with the aim of removing the irritant of the former while reducing the likelihood of the terrorist violence that threatens the latter. Alongside these three points further agreements over trade, industrial development, sharing of resources, equality of opportunities, and so on, could lead to a dramatic improvement in the life of Palestinians. This would reduce the opportunity for a return to violence and religious extremism.
Through this process of mutual affirmation both Israeli Jews and Palestinians would start to turn their focus away from the sins of the past and look to a future of greater cooperation and peace.
How long will it take before the first step can be initiated? ... Perhaps those Jews currently buying up land in Patagonia are making an important point. It is better to have a Jewish home with peace, than one constantly at war and under threat from neighbours.