This week President Obama will take up the challenge of brokering a deal between Israel and Palestine. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are in Washington for the first round of what will no doubt be yet another endless series of talks.
I am in favor of talks, and I support a two state solution, but Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been talking peace for decades. Is there really anything left to talk about?
Is there any doubt that the boundaries between the two states will follow some variation of the Green Line? Is there any doubt that Jerusalem will be the capital of both states? Can it be that the Palestinians won’t insist on some version of the Right of Return? Are the Palestinians unaware that Israel wants them to unequivocally affirm her right to exist as a Jewish state? Will the United States not end up paying for most of what will pass as peace?
If they come to any agreement it will a variation of some older agreement they hashed out in the past and then declined to agree upon. Which leads me to ask, Why hold more talks at all?
I can imagine these guys sitting around a table saying, “Hey, remember when we tossed around this idea? That was a nonstarter, so forget that one. Oh, wait, here’s a thought from the 1980’s that might… naa, forget that one. Any of you guys have any new ideas to toss around? I mean we flew all the way to DC. If all we got is what we did in the past, we could have done this via email. How about we order out for falafel? Obama’s buying.”
Why not just sit down and agree to something? They could if they wanted to. But they don’t want to. Talking is a way of maintaining the status quo, and that seems to suit all sides just fine. What’s changed to make us think this time they can do it?
There will be peace between Israel and Palestine when both sides are convinced that they have no other choice. That may come only when Israelis and Palestinians get to the point where the death of one more of their children is just too high a price to pay for their intransigence. As long as they have kids they are willing to sacrifice and backers who are willing to foot the bill for them to do it, peace is impossible.
So Benyamin and Mahmoud come and talk, but don’t pretend either of you is listening. If you wanted peace you could have had it long ago. Please prove me wrong.