“Does anybody still believe in the Middle East Peace Process?” This is the opening question of a hard-hitting new report on the topic by the International Crisis Group, pointedly entitled “The Emperor Has No Clothes: Palestinians and the End of the Peace Process.” From the report’s Executive Summary:
Nineteen years after Oslo and thirteen years after a final settlement was supposed to be reached, prospects for a two-state solution are as dim as ever. The international community mechanically goes through the motions, with as little energy as conviction. The parties most directly concerned, the Israeli and Palestinian people, appear long ago to have lost hope. Substantive gaps are wide, and it has become a challenge to get the sides in the same room.
The ICG seems to have noticed something that the Via Meadia think tank has been pointing out for some time: in light of irreconcilable differences between the principal parties and destabilizing regional realities like the Iranian threat and the Arab Sping, prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace in the near future are vanishingly small. However desirable a resolution to the conflict might be, however certain we are of the contours of a just two-state solution, and however many photo ops the U.S. and the international community force upon Israeli and Palestinian leaders, peace is not at hand.
What is needed to revive any real peace progress, as Via Meadia has noted in the past, is creative thinking coupled with courageous leadership. This will not be easy. But as the ICG notes, it is necessary:
The bad news is the U.S. presidential campaign, Arab Spring, Israel’s focus on Iran and European financial woes portend a peacemaking hiatus. The good news is such a hiatus is badly needed. The expected diplomatic lull is a chance to reconsider basic pillars of the process—not to discard the two-state solution, for no other option can possibly attract mutual assent; nor to give up on negotiations, for no outcome will be imposed from outside. But to incorporate new issues and constituencies; rethink Palestinian strategy to alter the balance of power; and put in place a more effective international architecture.
Check out the report’s full summary for the development of each of these points. While Via Meadia agrees with some and disagrees with others, we are convinced that these are the sorts of conversations that must take place if genuine progress is to replace political theater in the Middle East. And for the sake of all concerned—the sooner, the better.