The above is the title of an op-ed piece by Roger Cohen in today’s New York Times. In it, he examines a bipartisan statement containing recommendations for settling the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. It’s been presented to President Obama and the signatories are not only well-known, but hail from both sides of politics. Amongst them are Paul Volcker, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski and James Wolfensohn.
Reading through their proposals, one can almost feel the tectonic plates of US politics around this issue trembling. Towards the end of his piece, Cohen summarises the core principles as follows:
The first is clear U.S. endorsement of a two-state solution based on the lines of June 4, 1967, with minor, reciprocal, agreed land swaps where necessary. That means removing all West Bank settlements except in some heavily populated areas abutting Jerusalem – and, of course, halting the unacceptable ongoing construction of new ones.
The second is establishing Jerusalem as home to the Israeli and Palestinian capitals. Jewish neighborhoods would be under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian sovereignty, with special arrangements for the Old City providing unimpeded access to holy sites for all communities.
The third is major financial compensation and resettlement assistance in a Palestinian state for refugees, coupled with some formal Israeli acknowledgment of responsibility for the problem, but no generalized right of return.
The fourth is the creation of an American-led, U.N.-mandated multinational force for a transitional period of up to 15 years leading to full Palestinian control of their security.
According to Cohen, “their thinking coincides in significant degree with that of both George Mitchell, Obama’s Middle East envoy, and Gen. James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser.” He also notes that Obama “has told Volcker he would, in time, meet with the signatories of the letter”.
Now that would be an interesting meeting to observe.