Israeli-Arab Conflict Not Ripe for Resolution Yet

[Miami Herald] Richard N. Haass - The U.S., EU, Russia, and the UN are planning to convene many of the parties to the Israeli-Arab conflict at a meeting near Washington in November. The problem is that the conflict is not even close to being ripe for resolution. Ignoring this reality will lead to failure, if not catastrophe. Ripeness has several elements. There must be: a formula for the parties involved to adopt, a diplomatic process to get them to that point, and protagonists who are able and willing to make a deal. It is not clear that any of these conditions exist in today's Middle East. What, then, should be done? First, keep expectations modest. Calls for an agreement on the most controversial elements of a final peace settlement are unrealistic. Simply agreeing to an agenda for follow-up meetings would be an accomplishment. Second, this meeting must be the start of a serious process, not a one-time event, but rigid timetables should be eschewed. The Palestinian leadership cannot be expected to take risks for peace without political protection. Arab governments - led by Egypt and Jordan, but including Saudi Arabia and other members of the Arab League - must publicly declare their willingness to support a peace that is based on coexistence with Israel. The writer is president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

2007-10-29 01:00:00

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