Tomorrow I intend to cross the Mersey by taking a short voyage on one of the three vessels that currently ply their trade ferrying people back and forth on and along that mighty river.

I have never once availed myself of this means of transport before. Yet the landing stage is no more than 6 miles from my door and the time to reach it by car is officially reckoned to be less that 15 minutes. For more than a quarter of a century, I have always driven through one of the two tunnels that run under the Mersey. I have done this many thousands of times over the years; it’s much quicker, more convenient and the costs are roughly on a par with that of the waterborne crossing.

I mention this trip merely to illustrate the fact that alternative methods for accomplishing certain purposes have always been in existence. Indeed, ferry crossings of the Mersey have been recorded as far back as the11th century; the tunnels have been there only since the 20th.

Linking up the two sides currently engaged in this Israeli-Palestinian feud might be viewed as a project labouring under extreme tunnel vision. Within the narrow limits of tolerance allocated by all contending parties, there is so little room for manoeuvre and compromise that progress on almost every aspect of their situation is doomed from the very start.

So, rather than always taking the conventional but blinkered approach, it might be easier, it might be wiser to find a more leisurely and less restricted route to that distant shore.

The River Mersey has had one for at least 10 centuries. That’s an entire millennium. Then why not provide the turmoil in the Middle East with a similar back-up system?

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