The Status Quo Has Been Working Out OK for Israel, Until the Last Few Days

How It Works
July 9 2014 1:15 PM

Is Israel’s Status Quo Still Workable?

A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on July 9, 2014, shows Israeli soldiers patrolling the shore on the Mediterranean Sea.

Photo by Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been an uncomfortable fact for some time now that one of the biggest impediments to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been that the status quo hasn’t been all that bad for Israel.

As Jon Western puts it:

“prior to the escalation of violence in the last six days, life for most Israelis has been pretty easy.  The security situation has been relatively calm.  And, even though the entire Middle East is in turmoil, there is some sense that this has actually been to some benefit to Israel. Hezbollah and Iran both have their hands full in Lebanon and Syria with the recent actions of ISIS and other Sunni extremists.  The economy is doing well.  Indeed, a common lament up until the last few days in Tel Aviv is that the hardest thing about life there is getting a reservation at any one of the dozens of new upscale restaurants.”

If anything, the turmoil in surrounding countries seems to have hurt Hamas far worse than Israel. The relatively low levels of violence until recent days and the booming economy have made it fairly easy to ignore some growing problems.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

As Shmuel Rosner argued in the New York Times in May, John Kerry’s bid to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was understandably viewed as a failure in Washington, from an Israeli—and to some extent from a Palestinian—perspective, though keeping things as they were could be seen as preferable to the risk of unrest that would accompany the concessions involved in such a deal.

Both the withdrawal plans pushed by the international community and the annexation moves favored by the Israeli hard right seem fairly unattractive compared with muddling through with the current state of affairs, which again, for most Israelis, hasn’t been all that bad.  

Of course, the events of the last few days have been demonstrations that this status quo was extremely fragile and, in the long run, probably not sustainable. But when Israel winds down its strikes on Gaza and the rockets stop flying, as they likely will soon, it may once again become very easy to forget the knife’s edge the country is sitting on.

Meanwhile, the settlements will continue to grow, even more radical groups in Gaza may eclipse Hamas if it's decimated in the ongoing assault, the influence of moderates on both sides will diminish, and the prospects for any sort of workable resolution to the conflict will likely continue to recede.  


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Not Easy for Me, but I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
The Vault
Sept. 23 2014 10:24 AM How Bad Are Your Drinking Habits? An 18th-Century Temperance Thermometer Has the Verdict
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 9:42 AM Listen to the Surprising New Single From Kendrick Lamar
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand With Emma Watson
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.