My posting below on a one-state solution reflected the first time I had ever seriously considered that possibility. The concerns I raised seem like valid ones. But if they could be resolved, I'm now coming to think that perhaps a one-state solution would be the best bet. I don't know who posted the comment about a laic state (I had never heard that term before), but I'm glad you did.
This line of thought reminds me (unfortunately) of what we're trying to do in Iraq: a one state solution that includes the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites. Is there something we can learn there about how to do a better job of establishing a more successful one-state solution in Israel/Palestine that includes Jews and Palestinians? I don't think these two peoples are as fundamentally incompatible as the groups in Iraq. But there are serious issues that must be dealt with.
One question is whether the Palestinians even want a one-state solution that includes current day Israelis. My impression is that many of them want to get rid of all current day non-Arab Israelis. Is there any evidence that this isn't true, i.e., that they would want a modern, western-style, liberal, democratic, open, non-religious, one-state solution? I don't recall hearing any Palestinians arguing for that outcome. Given where we are now, the idea seems too idealistic to come true. But things change.
It hasn't been easy for Germany to bring the former East and West Germany together in a single state — and they were all Germans. Could Israel unify with the West Bank and Gaza in a similar grand unification? It wouldn't be easy. But it might be possible.
It seems like we have at least two examples: a failure (to date) in Iraq and a success (of sorts) in Germany. What about Europe as a whole and its attempt to form a unified society. You no longer need passports, and the Euro is established. But most of the European states that have voted on further unification (a European constitution?) have rejected it — at least for now.
Another possible model is South Africa. The disenfranchised black South Africans got the vote and took over the government. But they were smart enough not to ruin the existing societal and governmental infrastructure. So South Africa seems to have survived as a viable state and not to have deteriorated into the sort of failed state that plagues so much of the rest of Africa. If Israel expanded to include the West Bank and Gaza and at the same time enfranchised the Palestinians, would the result be a successful state? Would the Palestinians be willing to allow whatever changes they want in the structure of the state to take place through an evolutionary process which would preserve what's good about the current Israeli state?
I have been very impressed with what I have heard about the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is not out for retribution. It truly wants reconciliation. Would that be possible in a greater Israel?
I realize that the name of the resulting state may be an issue. I'm not attempting to settle that here. I'm just using the term Greater Israel as a way to refer to a single state solution that builds on the current successful Israeli state.
If something like that could work it would have an enormous positive effect on the Middle East in general. It would do for the Middle East what Bush said the democratization of Iraq was supposed to do. Set an example of a modern, secular, democratic, heterogeneous state. Wouldn't that be something. Would Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. be able to withstand the pressure to reform themselves after that?