“We’re working together, literally day and night, to seek a durable peace,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told AIPAC supporters this month, “a peace anchored in solid security arrangements and the mutual recognition of two nation-states.”
On Monday, meeting with President Obama, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said, “We don’t have any time to waste. Time is not on our side.”
This could be, as the old saying goes, the start of a beautiful friendship — or at least an end to decades of hostilities. If both sides are committed to advancing the peace talks under way since July, and to agree at least to a framework for a final peace agreement, then it behooves all those who support Israel to wish for the success of Secretary of State John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy.
Yet many supporters of Israel and the Palestinians are losing patience — leaving room for ever more radical solutions to the conflict. The Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment movement supports a binational “one-state” solution that would negate Zionism, grant an unlimited “right of return” to Palestinian refugees, and accomplish with ballots what they have failed to accomplish with bombs. Israel’s fiercest defenders are responding with a “one-state solution” of their own, in which Judea and Samaria would be annexed and the Palestinians who reside there would learn to live under full Israeli sovereignty. How such a state would be Jewish and democratic goes unexplained.
The appeal of such “solutions” grows in the absence of progress. If Abbas is sincere about seizing the moment, he ought to work harder to assure Israelis that he respects their national rights and security concerns. A good start would be finding a way to acknowledge the Jewish character of Israel, as even his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, was able to do.
Israel, meanwhile, must continue to both speak and act in the interests of peace, and cultivate a constituency that is prepared to counter the radicals within the pro-Israel camp. Netanyahu showed the way, telling AIPAC, “Ladies and gentlemen, peace is Israel’s highest aspiration. I’m prepared to make a historic peace with our Palestinian neighbors, a peace that would end a century of conflict and bloodshed.”