What now that the peace process has failed?
Aaron David Miller, a lapsed peace processor, back in April decried the "false religion" of an activity that brings no peace, and isn't likely to for a long time. He was right then, and has reason to repeat the admonition. He writes in Foreign Policy:
A faltering, struggling peace process with some hope is far better than a failed one that leaves everyone hopeless -- and without a fallback option. When the time comes for big American moves (and, sadly, it will come given the Israeli and Palestinian lack of ownership over their own process), Obama should pay careful attention to the lessons and circumstances of the last big American effort to resolve the core issues.
Miller lists a number of falsehoods that were the basis for Obama's peace process optimism:
First, the parties were "this close" to an accord at the last Camp David, they will say, thumb and first finger almost touching. Second, that a tremendous amount of work has been done in the past 10 years by Israelis and Palestinians on the core issues which have brought the parties closer than they've ever been. Third, that everyone knows the broad outlines of an agreement. And, fourth, that trying and failing is better than not having tried at all.
I would add a few more: Obama's belief that his personal presence would galvanize the parties; the assumption that Mahmoud Abbas was empowered and willing to recognize the Jewish state; the Obama team's conviction that a settlement freeze would pave the way to a deal; the notion that by showing "daylight" between the U.S. and Israel, we would be more effective peace brokers; and the assertion that this was the top priority for the Arab states. All were false, and in the case of the Arab states' priorities (as WikiLeaks revealed), known to be false by the administration.
Miller suggests that Obama reconsider whether "the two leaders willing, able, and ready to make the big decisions on the big territorial issues and on the identity issues of Jerusalem and refugees." I will leave aside the moral equivalence (considering Israel has offered the Palestinians their state multiple times) and answer: Obviously not. So why not give up the charade and do something more productive?
Three suggestions: Fire George Mitchell (whom neither side trusts), work on Palestinian institution-building, and go after the main sponsor of regional terrorism, Iran. The Obama administration was convinced that a peace deal would bring about progress on Iran. This was another false premise. But regime change in Iran would help to stem the supply of weapons and support to Hamas and Hezbollah and re-establish the U.S.-Israel relationship as the essential component in a stable, peaceful Middle East. Even if that doesn't work (i.e. the Palestinians refuse to give up the dream of a one-state solution), as my mother would say, it couldn't hurt.
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