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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Instead of forcing peace, quarantine the quarrel

David Frum argues that a state of 'no war' that works is better than a peace process that keeps the conflict in the limelight and doesn't bring peace.
Maybe instead of some grand bargain, we should be looking for some way to quarantine the quarrel — some way to de-escalate the issue’s power to do harm.

Think of the Israeli security fence as a model. It did not bring peace. It did not settle some hypothetical future border. It just drew a line between Israelis and Palestinians, blocking the reach of terrorist groups across the line. A reduction in terror is not “peace,” but it delivers the same results.

The West Bank governs itself. It’s not a country exactly, but then neither is Kosovo or Nagorno-Karabakh. The international community does not invest much energy worrying about the precise status of either of these autonomous self-governing regions. Why not allow the Palestinian Authority to stumble along in the same way?

As the Palestinian leaders themselves keep signaling, they face a desperate dilemma.

No Palestinian leader (the Palestinians believe) can possibly survive signing a treaty that does not deliver (1) a big slice of Jerusalem; (2) the uprooting of Israeli settlements in the West Bank; and (3) and some big acknowledgment of a so-called Palestinian right of return to Israel proper.

On the other hand, no Israeli politician will yield those things. The Palestinians do not have the strength to force the concession, and the United States is exceedingly unlikely to impose it.

The solution is messy but obvious: Don’t sign anything. No treaty, no ceremony, no need for the Palestinian leadership to explain to their people why the leaders have abandoned the historic goals of the Palestinian national movement. The goals can remain intact, just deactivated for now, postponed to the future when conditions may be different.

Then, for the time being — a time that may stretch for decades — everybody tacitly agrees to live with the status quo: The Israelis keep what they have, the West Bank Palestinians commit to keep order on their side of the fence, Hamas remains an international pariah, foreign aid continues to flow to the West Bank so long as good behavior continues. No process, no treaty, just quiet and development.
And no 'settlement freeze.' Sounds good to me.


At 9:10 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

In other words, the status quo. If the Americans push it, Israel can take the unilateral steps I mentioned earlier and leave the world with no Palestinian problem to solve. All Israel has to do get rid of the Arabs is to put them all on the other side of the border - with the stroke of a pen. What is wrong with that? It would be giving them what they want.


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