The notion that a stable Middle East is dependent predominantly on a tiny country like Israel and on its conflict with the Palestinian Arabs being resolved was never particularly convincing. Now, as the Arab Spring, if we can still call it that, has entered its second year, it seems to be less persuasive than ever before.
One has to look at it in terms of cause and effect, inferring logically what would have happened had Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached a final agreement.
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was reached prior to the emergence of the so-called Arab Spring.
Following such an accord, what would have happened in Syria? Would the cruel civil war now taking place in that country not have occurred? Would the Assad regime have behaved any differently towards those opposing his rule? Would they have conducted themselves any differently towards his regime? Would the Iran-backed-Hezbollah not have intervened directly in that civil war?
What about Egypt? Would Hosni Mubarak not have been deposed? Would Muhamad Morsi not have been elected? Would the current violent confrontation taking place between the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood have been averted?
Would an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have created a different reality in the Sinai Peninsula, where Jihadist groups are challenging Egypt’s sovereignty and Israel’s security?
Would the Iranian regime not have pursued its nuclear program? Would it have discontinued its support for Hezbollah? Would it have altered its attitude towards Israel and the Sunni countries as a result of that accord?
Would Al Qaeda and any of its affiliated terrorist organizations in the Middle East and beyond have altered either their ideology or their actions on account of such an agreement?
What would have been different, what wouldn’t have happened that actually did, in this region and beyond, had the scenario aforementioned become a reality?
This is not merely an exercise in counter-factual history, but rather a logical attempt to ascertain the accuracy of the oft-repeated slogan that Israel and its dispute with the Palestinian Arabs are at the core of the Middle East problems.
The truth is that resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is important per se, but in terms of cause and effect, it cannot be demonstrated under any logical intellectual exercise that any of the major events taking place in the region wouldn’t have happened had the conflict been resolved.
Can anyone honestly argue that had Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached an agreement the various crises besetting the Middle East and beyond would not have occurred?
In order to contend persuasively that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is at the core of the regional problems one has to be able to demonstrate that its resolution would have prevented at least any of the major events that have taken place in the area or would have created a considerably different regional reality than the one prevailing at present.