A Palestinian official on the radio today, when asked about the motives driving the latest wave of violence (including knife attacks on Israelis by a small number of Palestinians, followed by Israeli response), said the motives lay in 48 years of illegal occupation, coupled with feelings of hopelessness on the part of the younger generation. The official compared this incipient 'third intifada' in that respect to the Arab Spring, and he compared Netanyahu to Mubarak.
Whatever one thinks of that suggested analogy or parallel, there is one obvious, glaring difference: the anger of the Egyptian protesters from 2011 on was directed at their own government, whereas that of Palestinians, as in the present moment, is directed outward, toward a government of occupation, a government not their own in any sense. Hidden in this very obvious distinction is an implication one wonders whether Israel's leaders have ever fully grasped: namely, that once a sovereign Palestinian state is established, it would become the target at which its citizens would be most likely to direct whatever anger and frustration they might have about unfulfilled hopes or promises. The longer that Israel continues the occupation, the longer the Palestinians exist in a basically stateless condition, the longer it will be before there comes a time when Palestinians' anger is directed, in the first instance, where anger is typically first directed: i.e., at one's own government.
I wonder, in other words, whether Israeli leaders have ever taken an unabashedly pragmatic, self-interested view of a sovereign Palestinian state as an absorber of anger, which is what, among other things, it would be. After an initial period of euphoria, once the state got down to the difficult business of governing and trying to improve its citizens' lives, it would become responsible or accountable in a way that the Palestinian Authority, despite its degree of autonomy in certain spheres, has never been. This is presumably just one of several ways in which the establishment of a sovereign, universally recognized Palestinian state would benefit not only ordinary Palestinians (in psychic if not necessarily material terms), but also ordinary Israelis.
Added later: Lest the opening of this post give the wrong impression, I assure readers that I'm fully aware that (individual) Israelis have committed violent acts against (individual) Palestinians (including recently) and not just the other way around; on the level of individuals, the violence has flowed both ways, even while on the level of collectives it has been highly asymmetrical and unequal. My basic position on the conflict should be fairly clear from previous posts; those readers in search of posts that consist solely of impassioned denunciations might be well advised to look elsewhere, since although I sometimes appreciate impassioned polemic, I don't do it all that often here.