Mideast Peace, One Brick at a Time

(Wall Street Journal) Robert McFarlane - President Obama should focus on the building blocks essential to an ultimate settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The U.S. is already working hard to shore up the Palestinian Authority security apparatus in the West Bank. With continued American help, other civil infrastructure can also be put in place, for example to combat corruption and establish the rule of law - necessary if the new Palestinian state is going to function and be self-sustaining. Models from other emerging countries (e.g., South Korea) suggest that this process takes at least a decade to accomplish and that expecting anything less may lead only to a failed state. No one should underestimate how difficult it will be to reach a comprehensive settlement. For example, the Palestinians seek their so-called right of return to territory in Israel and want the capital of their state to be in Jerusalem. Israelis believe that accepting a right of return would be demographic suicide. And they are loath to divide Jerusalem, not least because they recall that when Jordan ruled East Jerusalem prior to 1967 it was ethnically cleansed of Jews. They view Jerusalem as their ancient and "indivisible" capital. These issues cannot be resolved easily or quickly. Papering them over is counterproductive. Only by laying one brick at a time can a solid foundation for peace be built. The writer served as President Reagan's national security adviser and is currently a member of the Leadership Council at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

2010-04-19 09:36:43

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