Right now Sunni and Shia are busy fighting with purist Sunni Islam represented by the Wahhabist Al Queda and purist Shia Islam represented by Iran's Mullah. So too within Israel, Hamas and Fatah are fighting as well. But what they are fighting over is who will lead the Arab\Muslim world and their main form of competition is less about killing each other and more about competing to see who can kill the most Americans\Israelis.
With the colonial powers gone, America and Russia stepped in, with the former trying to maintain the power of the Arab tyrants while the latter tried to push coups and revolutions and install new governments friendly to it.
The old colonial powers had hoped to treat the Arab states like client states, but instead coups overturned most of the old style rulers leaving some leftovers like the House of Saud and the Hashemite Kingdom in Jordan (itself a Saudi leftover) in power. Military coups turned Egypt, Syria and Iraq socialist, while a religious coup turned Iran into a theocracy.
Throughout all this the one thing that had not changed was that the struggle for primacy in the Arab world was based on their capacity for Jihad. The ability to inflict damage on Israel or on Western powers was what made an Arab country respected under the Honor-Shame code. By contrast signing peace agreements was a deep form of humiliation.
Egypt and Jordan, once the region's primary powers, have never been able to recover from their peace treaties with Israel and their populations feeling the burning shame of the peace accords are fueled by an almost unimaginable bitterness and hate for Israel, not so much for the wars, as for the peace. By contrast the ascension of the Mullahs Iran and Saddam's Iraq was driven by their hostility and proxy wars against Israel.
That is of course why the "Peace Process" or any peace process in the Arab world cannot and will not work. In an Honor-Shame culture respect is gained from defeating one's enemies, but making peace with them is a sign of humiliating weakness. And that is the situation today.
Iran and Al Queda are jockeying for supremacy in making war on the infidel in order to compete for the leadership of the Arab world. The stakes are high with Sunni and Shia religious affiliation on the table, which is why the Gulf Arab states have been increasingly nudging America and even Israel to do something about Iran.
Al Queda took an early lead with 9/11 and a few years of terror in Iraq, and then made the mistake of picking a proxy war with Iran. The US has managed to clean up much of Al Queda in Iraq, but hasn't been able to do much about Iran's terror militias, in no small part because of the ideologues behind the pro-Islamic terrorist foreign policies of the Carter Administration responsible for helping put the Ayatollah Khomeni in power. Obama and Biden are their boys, lock, stock and barrel.
The Democrats can't wait to duplicate the North Korea boondoggle, giving Iran hundreds of millions in aid and possibly nuclear fuel, in exchange for a temporary lull in the fighting allowing for a "Peace with Honor" withdrawal from Iraq, followed of course by a bloody civil war that Iran's tank brigades will crush. The fallout will make Cambodia look like Disneyland, but the media will make sure that none of the ashes and bone fragments blow their way to Obama's front door. The only hang up is getting Iran to the table, so the bright boys in the State Department can give away the kitchen store.
In Israel meanwhile, Hamas is not the more popular terrorist group because it is less corrupt. Hamas is more popular because Hamas kills more Jews than Fatah does. Naturally Arafat and Abbas' Fatah have to compete by staging terrorist attacks against Israel. The United States then insists that Israel tolerate this situation for the sake of "peace" because the State Department knows quite well that the only way Fatah can remain in power is by continuing is attacks on Israel.
Were Abbas, the "man of peace", to genuinely terminate all hostilities with Israel and seek peace, he would be a corpse far sooner than Sadat. So the charade goes something like this, Fatah's thugs paid for with US tax dollars continue engaging in "limited" terrorism to maintain the legitimacy of Abbas' government with Palestinian Arabs... in order to be able to make peace with Israel.
It would take a forensic psychiatrist specializing in war crimes to even begin to make any kind of sense of this pattern of justification which has nevertheless served as the basis for the willingness of US, Europe and several Israeli Prime Ministers' willingness to maintain and support first Arafat and then Abbas.
But the pattern stays the same. US diplomats bully Israel into negotiating with weakened Arab governments that have suffered a major defeat, such as Sadat's Egypt or Arafat's PLO and are ready to cut a deal. The deal isn't worth the paper it's written on, it merely extracts Israeli concessions for a ceasefire that is already either in place (Egypt) or will never be in place (Fatah) and photos are snapped as journalists and Western politicians declare that a new era of peace is at hand.
Yet those same journalists and politicians never seem to grasp that shoving democracy and peace treaties down the Arab gullet never works. You can have one or the other. Democracy in an Honor-Shame culture will reward the party or politician with the most militant stands. Peace or cooperation against terrorism requires a tyrant. Yet time and time again America insists on bringing democracy into the picture.
In Egypt democracy means the foul nest of the Muslim Brotherhood out of which Hamas and Al Queda both crept. In Israel it means Hamas. In Pakistan it means pushing out Musharraf, from whom we could count on some cooperation, in favor of a weak government indebted to the same terrorists we're supposed to be fighting, which has twice opened fire on our forces.
What is required to win the war or achieve a peace is realism. It also means understanding that short of all out conquest and colonization, we cannot have things our way and in tandem with our principles. It simply isn't going to work because it denies reality. We can either keep our high ground or achieve our goals. We can't do both.
Meanwhile the same liberal values of the politicians and pundits insist that we can achieve peace and an end to conflict by atoning for our foreign policy. The futility of that whole approach is that if Israel has proven anything in the decades of striving for peace, is that peace is a dead road in the Middle East. Signing accords weakens the Arab governments that sign them and signing accords with terrorists is less than useless. You can't buy your way out of a conflict when you are the stronger or the weaker party in an Honor-Shame culture, all it does is demonstrate your inability to go the distance and finish the fight. And that perception just pours fuel on the fire.
In the Middle East peace is an admission of defeat and an enduring peace cannot even be had between fellow Muslims, let alone Muslims and Infidels. To survive in the harsh desert, you must struggle and endure without hope of oasis. It is when you see the mirage of an oasis and allow yourself to stumble toward it that you are lost. Peace in the Middle East is a mirage. Conflict is the reality. To survive requires a willingness to stand on guard for however long it takes until your enemies have withered away or to go out and destroy them. There is no third option except your own destruction.