Giving Up on the Peace Process

Aaron David Miller is giving up (again) on the Middle East peace process. You can read his declaration here. I post this mainly because I found the following paragraphs to be finely written and compelling, and a check on certain tendencies I've developed, including the tendency to think in semi-apocalyptic terms about the Netanyahu coalition (though I reserve the right to continue feeling this way):

...Palestinians deserve an independent state living in peace and security alongside Israel. They've suffered enough; their cause is just and compelling. Abbas is a good man who has eschewed violence and together with his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has begun to create the infrastructure and institutions of statehood. The Palestinians' desire to change the paradigm by shifting from an arena where they have limited influence (bilateral negotiations with Israel) to the international arena where they have more is as understandable as it is unwise. Indeed, nothing that will happen in New York this week or next that will bring Palestinians any closer to realizing real statehood; it could, in fact, take them farther away.

Second, we can blame everything on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from morning to night -- but it would be an unfair and dishonest analysis. There's no doubt that Israeli settlement activity and inflexible positions on Jerusalem, borders, refugees, and security have made this Israeli government a tough and often recalcitrant partner in the peace process. Still, the last time I looked, this Israeli government is a legitimate result of political and coalition realities in a democratic polity; and, I might add, with 32 governments since independence (the average length being 1.8 years) it's also proving pretty durable.

To put the entire blame for the current impasse on Netanyahu just doesn't add up. The gaps on the core issues, particularly the identity issues -- Jerusalem and refugees -- have been unbridgeable for more than a decade now -- in Ehud Barak's negotiations with Yasir Arafat back in 2000 and Ehud Olmert's with Abbas in 2010. Furthermore, the current Palestinian polity is more Humpty Dumpty than an authoritative, cohesive political partner. A significant part of it (Hamas) sits in Gaza and competes with the one that sits in Ramallah -- not just over seats in a parliament, but on the basic issue of where and what Palestine should be. The current PA lacks a monopoly over the forces of violence, political strategy, resources, even people. And no Israeli government will be willing to make a deal with a partner that doesn't control and silence all of the guns of Palestine.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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