Next, an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan

Next, an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan

By Bernard Avishai, International Herald Tribune

29.3.2011
via International Herald Tribune (click for original)

 
Last night, rejecting criticism of his actions in Libya, President Obama outlined a standard for civilized multilateralism: “Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security,” he said. “Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners ... to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.” If you should act, act where you can, and act together.
 
Obama gained a mandate from the U.N. Security Council, working with the European Union to rally the Arab League. He enlisted support from leaders of the Group of 20 in the process. His leadership, in short, did not just turn the tide against one Arab tyranny, but produced a model of statecraft for the region as a whole.
 
This model now has an even more important task. Obama should, and can, lead the Quartet (the U.S., U.N., E.U. and Russia) in presenting a new blueprint for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Whatever happens in Libya, America will never be seen as a champion of Arab democracy if it continues to appear cavalier about the occupation of the Palestinians.
 
The president made clear in his Cairo speech that Palestinian statehood is not simply an internal Israeli affair, nor is Israeli security the responsibility of the Israeli military alone. He knows that the chances of success in any bilateral talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are nil. He also knows what the product of good-faith negotiations must be.
 
From early in 2007 to September 2008, for example, Abbas and the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert held 36 meetings. On the core issues, they wound up gravitating to virtually the same outline for a deal as produced in past negotiations at Taba and Geneva.