Nirvana Is Not the Goal of the Peace Process

Tamara Wittes writes, in reference to the Rob Malley/Hussein Agha op-ed which declared the goal of a two-state solution more-or-less hopeless, to say:

I understand the throwing-up-of-hands impulse you express, and that you think Rob Malley and Hussein Agha are expressing in their op-ed. But there is a significant moral and material difference between throwing up your hands as an individual and suggesting it as a guide for policy on the op-ed page of The New York Times.

Peace processes and peace agreements are not about achieving nirvana. They do not "resolve" conflicts between peoples. What diplomacy does is halt conflicts, stop violence, and create room for the possibility of societal reconciliation, which is admittedly rare but not unheard of. Does anyone think that Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland have stopped resenting each other or being suspicious of one another's intentions? Have they let go of their bitter history? Do they now all believe that the other side is just as right as they are? No on all counts - and they don't need to, as long as they are still willing to settle their issues through shared government instead of through bombings in the streets. That is a high achievement, and a one that is not inconceivable as a goal for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.