Don't Depend on Outsiders for a Settlement of Mideast Dispute

[Arab News-Saudi Arabia] Shlomo Avineri - Looking back at 60 years of American involvement in the region, one can discern two scenarios in which the U.S. can bring the local players to an agreement. Absent these conditions, the U.S. is ultimately powerless. The first scenario is when a real war threatens to spill over into a wider conflict. At such times, resolute American steps can stop the fighting and impose a cease-fire. The other scenario is when the two sides have already engaged in bilateral peace talks and reached agreement on most issues. In such cases, America can step in and, by using both carrot and stick, make both sides go the extra mile. When either of these two scenarios is lacking, American initiatives are stillborn. The U.S. is extremely successful as a fire brigade or as a midwife, but not as an initiator. At the end of the day, the key is in the hands of the local players. No national conflict has ever been solved by outside powers, however well intentioned they may be. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.

2008-05-20 01:00:00

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