Neighbour disputes are the most difficult cases to solve. I learned this truth as a high street solicitor and am reminded of it often in my role as Wrexham's Member of Parliament.
But the difficult cases I have seen are as nothing compared to what I saw in Hebron recently.
Hebron, a biblical city, has the centre to prove it. Built on a collection of hills, it boasts olive groves and narrow cobbled ways in equal measure. I was welcomed to a Palestinian house following a dusty walk along a dirt road, the only access allowed. When I saw the other side of the house, it was approached by a normal tarmac road. But the householder explained to me that she was not allowed to use it.
The reason was her neighbours. A group of Israeli settlers had moved in some years before. The Tomb of the Patriarchs is in Hebron and many Jews believe they have the right to live there. Israel has given them protection by providing a military presence in the city centre. The result has been soldiers, settlers and Palestinians together in a continuous, tense cluster. To help manage the problem, the road to the house has been restricted for use by settler vehicles only. This breeds resentment for the Palestinian family who can now gain only access to their home on foot.
Still more bizarre is the scene in Hebron city centre. The main street, in the shadow of a magnificent mosque, has been closed off not only to Palestinian traffic but also, in the main, to Palestinians on foot. The result has been the destruction of business for the shop owners there.
When I walked down the street, I was required to walk on one side of a metre high concrete wall, separating me from a road where an Israeli bus drove past and where Israelis were allowed to walk.
The scene was shocking.
Israel knows that this absurdity cannot continue. Legal proceedings against a settler group has led to evictions but the city centre is a point of tension building to a confrontation.
Neighbour disputes require compromise. But Palestinians believe that Israel must stop encroaching on their land before that compromise can be worked out. It is essential that Israel and the Palestinian Authority work through the problem in Hebron and do so urgently. And Hebron is, from what I saw, a microcosm of what is happening in many places in the West Bank.
I am desperately worried that the scene in Hebron, stark and brooding, will lead to a serious confrontation. Equally worrying is that similar scenes are being played out right across the West Bank. Just one incident could lead to a breach in the atmosphere of calm which the Palestinian Authority has helped build. It is in the interests of all, including Israel, that this scene of intolerance and mistrust ends and ends soon.
Ian Lucas is shadow minister for the Middle East and Labour MP for Wrexham