Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prospects for Peace with the Palestinians

Max Singer
Perspectives 105
12 April '10

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: It is useful to think of the Palestinians as engaged in an internal debate between those who favor keeping the goal of eliminating Israel and those who favor giving up that goal to gain peace and prosperity. Peace can be achieved only when the second group is dominant. The debate depends on two issues. Is there any realistic hope that Israel can really be defeated? Would it be honorable to make peace with Israel? The international movement to delegitimize Israel provides Palestinians the hope of eventually destroying Israel, and Palestinian leadership denial of the existence of a Jewish People with an ancient connection to the Land of Israel contradicts the basis of an honorable peace with Israel. If peace is to have a chance, Western leaders need to disabuse the Palestinians of both fallacies.

A useful way to think about the possibility for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is to consider the Palestinians as being in a long-term internal debate. This complicated debate can be conceptualized as being between those who think they should continue the effort to eliminate the state of Israel, and those who think that the fight to destroy Israel has gone on long enough and that it is time for the Palestinians to pursue their own interests in peace and prosperity by making peace with Israel.

These two groups have constantly shifting memberships, all of whom have particular organizational and political interests which complicate their choice. To some extent many individuals are divided in their own minds, so that the general debate is replicated within individuals.

It is important to note that the debate usually takes place in an environment where public, and even private, discussion is far from free. Providing certain information or expressing some views can be a risk for Palestinians.

Peace depends on the Palestinians who are ready for peace winning their internal debate. When the Palestinians who prefer to keep fighting are on top there is no chance for a negotiated settlement. Serious negotiations can only begin when the predominant view is that it is necessary to give up the effort to destroy Israel.

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