The latest effort to revive the long-moribund “peace process” is being met with understandable skepticism, not to mention derision in some circles. While we, too, have grave doubts about the prospects of a deal any time soon, we should not give up trying.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been shuttling back and forth to the region over the past few months, and over the weekend, he unveiled a $4 billion economic development proposal for the West Bank that the Obama administration is apparently hoping could spur Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The plan, presented at the World Econonic Forum in Jordan, is short on details and already has been criticized by both Israelis and Palestinians.
It’s been so long since there’s been talk of an Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement that one could be forgiven for forgetting that such talk immediately brings some knee-jerk reaction across the political spectrum. The right immediately dismissed Kerry’s efforts as naive and foolish, even going so far as to mock Israeli President Shimon Peres, who, as the only official Israeli representative at the Jordan conference, espoused his eternal optimism about the prospects for peace.
The left, in turn, immediately pounced on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not demanding that his coalition embrace a two-state solution and for not responding to an Arab initiative that some argue presents a new opening from the Arab nations.
Of course, much has changed since the last abbreviated attempt at bringing the two sides together, which occurred early on in the Obama administration. In essence, the entire region has erupted in chaos, especially along Israel’s borders.
Against this backdrop, it’s easy to worry that any new agreement could be imperiled or abrogated with a change in power. At the same time, one could argue that the increasing threats on Israel’s borders makes the need for some sort of deal, filled with tight security provisions, a greater imperative.
It’s unlikely that an investment plan is what’s needed to kickstart the long moribund Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Nothing is likely to change until the Palestinians offer up some real leadership, and stop pretending that Israel has no historic right to the land and no reason to worry about its future security.
Despite some media reports to the contrary, Israelis have not given up on the hope or need for peace. They are just more skeptical and wary — justifiably so. So, too, are we.
But that doesn’t mean we should give up hope that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a possibility. Dreaming, with a healthy dose of realpolitik, is the Jewish way.