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In June, days before Harper’s contributor Bernard Avishai brought together a panel of experts for a conversation about the prospects of a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly blamed Hamas for the abduction. While these events were much on the minds of our panelists, we encouraged them to remain focused on larger trends rather than more immediate concerns. Shortly after the discussion took place, the bodies of the three teenagers were found by an Israeli search team, and a Palestinian teenager was murdered in East Jerusalem in an apparent revenge killing. Hamas began launching rockets into Israel, and Israel bombed targets in Gaza. As this issue went to press, Hamas turned down a ceasefire brokered by Egypt, and Israel sent ground troops into Gaza. Our participants knew none of this at the time, but they are all longtime residents and students of the region, in which such outbreaks of violence are sadly familiar. They offer invaluable insight into how the conflict arrived at this point and where it might be headed.

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