In the aftermath of Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral victory last March, the “two-state solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict is off the table for the foreseeable future.  Netanyahu’s public disavowal of the two-state formula (despite his subsequent denials) was not a last-minute campaign ploy.  It reflected his deeply held belief that Israel can survive and prosper by maintaining the post-1967 status quo in perpetuity.

The Israeli prime minister feels emboldened by a shift in Israel’s favor of the regional military-political balance.  Two major adversaries, Iraq and Syria, have been effectively eliminated as coherent state actors.  The Iraqi Army melted away in the face of the Islamic State onslaught last summer; even if rebuilt and re-equipped under American auspices, it will pose no threat to Israel for a generation.  In Syria government forces are still able to hold their own against an array of Islamic adversaries; yet even if Assad survives he will not be willing or able to disturb the peace in the Golan for years to come.  His dismantling of the country’s chemical-weapons stockpile in the fall of 2013 has removed another potential threat to Israel, however remote.

Egypt’s army is large and intact, but President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has reiterated his adherence to the 1979 peace treaty with Israel: He has his hands full with maintaining internal stability after neutralizing the Islamic Brotherhood and battling Muslim insurgents in the Sinai.  Libya is defunct.  Jordan is relatively stable, and she also shows no intention of undermining King Hussein’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel.  The defense and intelligence-sharing arrangement between the two countries is said to be “excellent” and unaffected by the turmoil elsewhere in the region.

Iran’s nuclear threat is largely nonexistent, Netanyahu’s alarmist rhetoric notwithstanding.  Within weeks of his 2012 warning to the U.N. General Assembly that Tehran was 70 percent of the way to completing its “plans to build a nuclear weapon,” the Mossad estimated that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.”  After Netanyahu’s scandalously self-serving address to a joint session of Congress last March, former Mos sad director Meir Dagan flatly stated that the prime minister knowingly misled American lawmakers: Netanyahu’s contention that Iran could build a nuclear bomb in less than a year was “bullsh-t.”

Nonstate actors are not much of a threat, either.  Hamas may have emerged as a moral victor of sorts after Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza last summer, but the human and material cost was exceedingly steep; Qassem-rocket attacks on Israeli settlements have since stopped.  Hezbollah has not carried out a major attack inside Israel for almost a decade, and its military resources are engaged in battling the IS in Syria.  Israel rightly feels safer as long as Shi’ites battle Sunnis, and secularists battle Islamists, all over the Fertile Crescent.

Nonetheless, Israel’s “villa in the jungle” (former prime minister Ehud Barak’s phrase) is not permanently safe.  A statesman of stature would use the current window of regional opportunity to chart a long-term course of political consolidation that would spare future generations of Israelis the prospect of living in a bunker surrounded by a fortified fence and the open-ended maintenance of military superiority and physical control over as much territory as possible.

Barack Obama appears increasingly reluctant to condone Netanyahu’s vision—which is just as well, primarily because doing so would not be in the American interest, but also because the strategy of permanent conflict management is not in the interest of Israel’s long-term survival.  By the end of this decade the Greater Middle East will be more firmly Islamic (of whatever hue) than at any time since the heyday of the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Suleyman, half a millennium ago.

Between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, Jews are already in a minority.  Since birthrates in the West Bank and Gaza remain much higher than in Israel, the Arab population of the Palestinian Authority will exceed the number of Israeli Jews in 20 years.  What kind of “one state” will emerge?  How will the young Palestinian Arabs, coming of age as we speak, react to the prospect of permanent disenfranchisement?  If current trends continue, Arabs will account for over one quarter of Israel’s population by that time.  The massive influx of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union dried up long ago.  Considerably high numbers of Jews are leaving—over a million by Israeli estimates—many of them skilled professionals.

Israel can continue to manage a one-state “solution” of sorts, including physical control of the West Bank and the expansion of the settlement program, for some time, but she cannot do so forever.  As Ehud Barak has warned, the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will either be Jewish, or a democracy, but it will not be both.