A new State of Palestine? Get used to it, Binyamin.
There are signs that everything is about to change in the way the US tackles Israeli intransigence and the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. First of all, when the US vice-president, Joe Biden, met the US Jewish lobby (AIPAC) in Washington at its recent convention, he made it clear: "You're not going to like my saying this", and went on explicitly to forbid the building of more settlements, and to say that Israel should dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement...and access to economic opportunity, according to this week's Economist.
That is good news for starters.
Then there is next week's carefully timed meeting between Netanyahu and Obama. When a smooth opportunist, Netanyahu, meets a skilled negotiator, Obama, something has to give. All the signs are this will not be a situation where both sides express their difference respectfully,then walk away. So does Netanyahu have something up his sleeve? He probably will want to come up with something big to divert attention away from this conflict. Talk about Iran is an obvious. But he might gush over the 57-nation plan that Jordan's King Abdullah is working on, as a way of stalling for a bit.
So far, all his expressed opinions are not hopeful. He has publicly refused to accept the two-state solution, putting forward some notion of economic development as an alternative. He gives the impression of wanting to topple Hamas by his unrelenting squeezing of Gaza. He has so far refused to concede the return of the Golan Heights to the Syrians (even though other alternatives have already been discussed and acknowledged as workable). And there is more depressing news from him. He wants Israel to be acknowledged as a specifically Jewish state and he still refuses to freeze the growth of Jewish settlements that cuts up the West Bank.
Be very afraid, Binyamin:
But this time, the US could well squeeze Israel until the pips squeak! All the soft talk of previous presidents has got nowhere. This time, any clever semantics will get blown out of the water. And leaving things to the corrupt Palestinians and recalicitrant Israelis to sort out? No Deal. President Clinton's judgement of Netanyahu previously: "That Son of a Bitch doesn't want a deal". Things will not stay like that this time around. Already Obama's officials are laying out the basics - not that there is anything new in them - nor need there be.
This time, pussyfooting around is no longer a choice. Ok, it will take time, but Obama will be around for plenty of years yet.
This time it is likely that money will be more closely related to proven actions. Of course there are lots of difficulties. The Palestinians are all consumed by hatred: their supposed attempts to kiss and make up have been a joke. We've all read the books: Getting To Yes, and Getting Past No. Conflict resolution works once both sides decide to go for it. In my own experiences to stale-mates between opponents (obviously on much smaller stages), it is amazing how intransigence can fall away when both sides show that real commitment to getting somewhere.
We Brits know it's never easy. But we've got history on our side now, with the extraordinary contradictions of the Irish conflict and how the issues slowly got ironed out. I can still remember the endless mumbo-jumbo of both sides and their dreadful stubborn-ness. Yet they changed and we got the Good Friday Agreement! And slowly, both sides have put energy into making it work.
Everything is possible. This time around, at least two things have changed - the audacious President Barak Obama is in the White House. Audacity is exactly what is needed, to challenge conventional, rutted thinking. Obama exudes audacity by the bucket load! And Obama the Audacious already has lots of friends in this world.
What about us?
What, indeed, about us? There is no point in leaving it to Obama and the politicians if we merely continue to bicker about what the other side did or are still doing to make things worse. That merely entrenches us in an unwillingness to change or to see afresh the potential for resolving this conflict and transforming it finally into a two-state solution that we will support. If we hold on to our bickering, we are still part of the problem.
One of the most important positives in life (in my humble opinion) is to recognise opportunities, as they come floating through our consciousness, for what they are - opportunities to change the world by playing our little part. When things start to change, we can espouse those changes and encouraging others to see the positives in the changes. Let us be bold and daring - planning for change and doing whatever we can in effecting it.
Most Recommended Comment
London and elsewhere, United Kingdom