By Joe Millis
A two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the most desirable outcome but the least probable, according to the former head of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad.
And, Ephraim Halevy added, the most likely solution – a single state between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean was the least desirable.
But tempering that gloomy outlook, Hampstead-born Halevy – who was sharing a stage with Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), at a Zionist Federation breakfast, noted: “I feel that, ultimately, an agreement [on two states] will be reached not because people will one day wake up and suddenly realise they have to embrace each other. An agreement will be reached out of dire necessity, because the alternative is worse than not making an agreement.
“The best thing [US Secretary of State John] Kerry could do at the moment is to do what a predecessor, Jim Baker, did, and return to Washington and tell both sides to give him a call when they are ready to be serious.”
In a wide-ranging talk on Middle Eastern and world issues – including Ukraine, Russia and Nigeria – the George Smiley-esque Halevy and Sir Richard were largely in agreement.
The former MI6 head (pictured), now master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, said that the “cold war between Sunnis and Shias has now turned very hot. Both Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia) are pouring in huge amounts of resources into their respective proxies, Hezbollah and Syria on one side and Egypt and other Arab countries on the other.”
He added that at present, the “most important thing to realise was that not all problems can be resolved, and the best we can do is manage them so that they do not become full-blown crises.”
Both former spies noted that the coming big issue in the Middle East was the scarcity of food and water.
“Egypt and Iran both have populations of 90 million – double that of 40 years ago,” said Halevy.
“Food prices in both are skyrocketing and the water is drying up. That’s a recipe for disaster.”