Three Approaches for Ending the Conflict

(Ha'aretz) - Aaron David Miller As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drags on with no end in sight, three approaches to end it compete for the attention of would-be mediators, analysts, and politicians. There is the old game, based on a search for a conflict-ending agreement; the interim game embodied by the road map phases; and the new game, premised on waiting for strategic changes that would somehow make the conflict easier to resolve. The recent surprise announcement of the Geneva initiative by out-of-power Israelis and Palestinians demonstrates the old game's allure. It is not that playing the old game is illogical or unreasonable but, simply put, its proponents have no way of playing it seriously in the face of opposition from Palestinian and Israeli leaders, angry publics, and ongoing violence. In short, right now and for the foreseeable future, there is no way to negotiate the old game, impose it from the outside, or appeal over the heads of politicians to the publics to embrace it. The interim game, embodied by the U.S.-brokered road map makes perfect sense in theory, but in practice, neither Israelis nor Palestinians seem prepared to take the kinds of measures required to give this process traction. In the absence of serious prospects for either the old or interim game, the new game has emerged. According to this model, a real resolution depends on time - time for leadership changes, meaning mainly Arafat's removal; time for a U.S. victory in Iraq to weaken the influence of radicalism and extremism; and time for changes in the Arab world driven by democratization and free market forces. Only then will real Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace be possible. But in reality this may prove to be dangerous and myopic thinking. One of the darker dimensions of the new game is pursued by those Palestinians who believe that time and demographic advantage is on their side and that it is only a matter of time before they will become masters of all Palestine.

2003-11-03 00:00:00

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