1. A modern state cannot survive without a monopoly (under law) over military, police and judicial powers.
2. If that monopoly is broken, the state is weakened, often irrevocably.
3. Israel has that monopoly within the Green Line.
4. But Israel in effect does not have that power in the West Bank, where fear of settler rebellions and violence dictate Israel's actions as much, if not more so, than Palestinian terrorism.
5. There are therefore two "states," so-to-speak, the first a Western democracy, the second a primarily religious state governed by extremism.
6. If a peace deal is ever reached that calls for evacuation of significant parts of the West Bank or of eastern Jerusalem, the second "state" will clash with the first.
7. Israel's army, conditioned for years to overlook settler misbehavior, will be ill-prepared to deal with this clash, which will be exponentially larger and more violent than anything we've seen so far with the Gaza evacuations.
8. In other words, any Israeli government will have to weigh seriously the risk of civil war. This risk will thwart genuine peace deals and will eventually – when a deal too good to pass up comes along – lead to internecine violence and the majority will be held hostage, so-to-speak, by the radical minority.
This is the basic thesis put forward by Yehuda Bauer, the noted Israeli historian, in a controversial op-ed in Ha'aretz.
Although he does not say it directly, I suspect what Professor Bauer wants is for Israel to enforce its laws and curtail the activities of extremist settlers now, before it is too late. I also suspect Professor Bauer believes there is a very narrow window of time for doing so.
He closes this way:
…There is no truth to the well-known tradition that the Second Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred or internecine rivalry. The Temple was destroyed because religious, messianic extremists forced the nation to rebel against a global empire that it had no chance of defeating. [A time may come] in which a radical religious minority thwarts peace because the fanatic political assassins of the Second Temple period have found worthy successors.
Professor Bauer's history is correct. It was religious nationalist zealots – the children of rabbis, in part – who largely caused the Destruction. Is his prediction correct, as well?