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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