Saturday, March 13, 2010

How to Resolve the Palestinian-Israeli Dispute

A current school of thought on how the U.S. should deal with the recalcitrant Netanyahu is that it should tighten the screws. The argument, persuasive at a certain level, goes like this: Netanyahu has spent the past year making it crystal clear that he will never agree to a viable Palestinian state, so continuing polite discussions is mere charade. This is certainly true, but it does not necessarily follow that "turning the screws" will work: there is a severe political constraint on what Washington's timid politicians will ever have the courage to do. Therefore, while pressuring Israel may be deserved and emotionally satisfying, an alternative and quite obvious approach holds more promise of achieving a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

The more promising approach is straightforward and logical: talk to people willing to cooperate rather than wasting time with those intent upon cheating. This can proceed on three levels. First, Israelis disenchanted with their government's intransigence and concerned about Israel's long-term security are speaking out loudly; listen to them. Second, Turkey, Brazil, and Japan have all made it clear that they are willing to assist in any genuine effort to achieve a Mideast compromise. Third is the Palestinian level. After all, the issue does concern the Palestinians, so why not talk to them? Extend an invitation to all concerned Palestinian parties to meet with U.S. and allied representatives, making clear that Washington will favor not individuals or groups but all those willing to join together in a Palestinian united front dedicated to establishing an independent, democratic state.

If the Netanyahu regime chooses to exclude itself from this dialogue, then simply leave it be. Let history pass it by.


Stacy said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I think the big issue with what has been going on over the past week is "what next?" Biden condemned Israel for the settlement announcement, the Quartet and EU and Secy Clinton did also but unless words are followed with action, it's much ado about nothing.

I am disappointed that Hillary Clinton will be the keynote at the upcoming AIPAC meeting- the timing is horrible and she is now the nation's top diplomat, not a politician running for reelection. I bring this up because given everything that is going on it will be viewed very negatively in the Muslim world- understandably so.

William deB. Mills said...

For Clinton to address AIPAC at this point would be simply to signal continued US subservience not just to Israel but to the most narrow-minded, racist elements of Israeli society. It is important for Americans to realize that AIPAC does not represent Israel; it represents the extremist Israeli right wing that claims the "right" to conduct ethnic cleansing and rely on military force to regulate its relations with its neighbors. This is a doomed policy; even Hitler's Germany--the most powerful nation on earth at that time--could not win with such a narrow policy.

If the Obama Administration feels the need to address some Israeli group, it should be a group seeking to preserve Israeli democracy and moral integrity.

Should Clinton attend AIPAC, she should do so only to announce a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy toward, at a minimum, neutrality between Israel and the Palestinians. But that would mean termination of all economic and military aid, loan guarantees, dual citizenship, etc. The Israeli right has not yet pushed hard enough to achieve that.