A simple counting of 50 years of military occupation might lead reasonable people to believe that it can no longer be considered temporary. But this fails to take account of an alternative time frame: the countdown until the end of Zionism and the State of Israel – which is a reflection of the prevailing Muslim, Arab and Palestinian view that Zionism is a historical aberration that will not – and must not – last.
Given this understanding of Zionism as a temporary historical aberration whose life span is a mere few decades, for the Palestinians to date, it has made sense to repeatedly choose to suffer the daily humiliations of living under a military occupation rather than to accept – through a permanent peace agreement that divides the land – the far greater humiliation of permanent Jewish sovereignty on land they considered exclusively their own.
As Arabs and Muslims, the Palestinians are not hapless victims, but rather masters of a historical narrative, at the end of which their resistance and patience would be rewarded with victory, in the form of Zionism’s disappearance.
The occupation of most of the West Bank by Israel can come to an end then when the Muslim-Arab world alters its view of history, so that rather than Israel being a second crusader state, that is to disappear like the first, it is accepted as the sovereign state of an indigenous people who have come home.
The essence of the conflict between Zionism and the Muslim Arab world is a battle over time in a race of mutual exhaustion. The question that will determine how the conflict is ultimately resolved revolves around who will give up first: will the Zionists give up on their project in the face of unrelenting violent, diplomatic and economic assault, or will the Muslim Arabs – in the face of Jewish power and persistence over time – give up on their project of erasing the sovereign Jewish presence in their midst, and finally come to accept it as a part of their history, rather than an affront to it? Only time will tell.