The ongoing struggle and the Middle East peace process.
A second, bloodier Intifada broke out in 2000. Where the first Intifada was characterized by Palestinian youths throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, the second Intifada took on the aspects of armed conflict, guerrilla warfare, and terrorist attacks. The devastating effects of suicide bombings within Israel proper increased the pressure to find a solution to the ongoing conflict, and polarized those with differing views about what that solution might involve.
In 2003, the United States made efforts to stem the violence by designing the "Road Map to Peace," which proposed a two-state solution. Like many previous attempts at peace, the Road Map faltered early on and violence continued. Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian people through both negotiations and violence, died in 2004.
Since then, Israel has enforced closures on the Palestinian territories, and erected a security fence separating parts of the West Bank from Israel proper. In 2005, Israel set a new course in its approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: Disengagement. In a bold and controversial step, Israel evacuated its settlements in the Gaza strip, removed its military forces, and left the area to be governed by the Palestinian Authority. As militants in Gaza continue to fire rockets on nearby Israeli settlements, some Israelis question whether the disengagement was worth it. Others advocate freezing settlement in the West Bank, and continuing efforts to trade land for peace. Little has changed since Benjamin Netanyahu's election in 2009.
The ongoing conflict with the Palestinians has led some people in Israel and abroad to question the basic premises of Zionism, and wonder whether Zionism and peace with the Palestinians can ever be compatible. One thing is certain: The conflict is a defining feature of Israeli society, and it has no simple solution.
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