What future for the "Greater Land of Israel"?
With an estimated 200 nuclear warheads, and one of the most advanced air forces in the world, Israel promotes itself as the Middle East's most powerful military and one of the world's five leading arms exporters.
Six decades after its founding, Israel has grown into one of the world's top 20 industrial states, with GNP (General National Product) superior to all its neighbours combined.
Priding itself on being a Western-type democracy; Israel has always sought close relations with empires and superpowers, underlining its estrangement within its own region.
Thanks to decades of preferential treatment by Western superpowers, Israel has had its cake and eaten it too. It has occupied, annexed and exploited Palestinian and Arab lands with impunity, and at the same time received over $100bn as the West's foremost ally in the Middle East.
Israel's control over the Occupied Territories has radicalised its own society and identity as much as it has deformed that of the Palestinians. And yet, despite all, Israel's borders remain undrawn, its capital unrecognised, its Jewishness unaccepted, and its security in question.
Today, after two failed wars in Lebanon and Gaza and a deadlocked peace process, Israel's moment of truth has come ...
Professor Avi Shlaim
Former speak of the Knesset
The Guardian newspaper
Dr Jad Ishaq
Applied Research Institute
Author of Beyond Chutzpah
A radical right-wing coalition government in Israel is determined to press ahead with the expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.
Palestinians refuse to accept anything less than a total freeze on all settlements but they are divided on the best way forward - diplomacy or resistance.
The all-powerful US is powerless. Since the election of Barack Obama, the US president, and Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, relations have become stifled.
Is Israel still a strategic asset? Was it ever? Or is it a strategic burden? Obama staked his presidency on a breakthrough, but his efforts have stumbled at the first hurdle.
The United Nations continue to issue toothless resolutions with no impact on the ground. Is it left to the European Union to make the running with yet another vague overture?
The diplomatic vacuum leads to more unilateral policies and a radicalisation of both sides that could escalate the conflict even further. So how can the international community end an illegal occupation that has lasted for four decades? Is a two state solution still possible, or one state or no state!
This episode of Empire aired from December 23, 2009.