The dialogue in Jerusalem is already showing some signs of coming unglued around the edges. Not an entirely unexpected development but certainly not good news at so early a stage in the proceedings.
So, how is this dialogue ever going maintain itself if seemingly minor details can threaten it in its first faltering steps towards a final settlement stage, especially one that may still be nine months down the line?
Let’s examine the basics.
The Israeli perspective:
Israel wants peace between itself and its neighbours. But there can be no peace because those same neighbours are just a little too near for comfort. Left to themselves, they might take advantage of such close proximity and attack Israel with deadly and tragic consequences. There’s that Gaza thing to consider and Palestinian political rhetoric, internal and external, has rarely featured as a confidence-building measure where Israelis are concerned.
The Palestinian perspective:
Palestinians want peace between themselves and their Israeli neighbours. But there can be no peace because those same neighbours have long exercised control over what were once Palestinian homelands and so a negotiating position equivalent to that of a supplicant has to be avoided at all costs. Hence there is extreme reluctance to commit to anything Israelis or Americans propose or agree upon.
Those are the primary sticking points here: Israeli security and Palestinian self-esteem. The situation is as it is; there is no ducking that reality and trying to do so will only make matters worse than ever.
So, instead of wrestling with it and all to no avail, why not exchange this reality for another, one that is more pliable, much more open to dealing with the major issues and thus capable of determining a mutually beneficial outcome?
Here the security question is addressed in the most comprehensive manner possible; it almost takes care of itself. Any aggressive move made by either combatant is instantly ruled out since such an undertaking can then have potentially disastrous consequences for the aggressor’s very own agenda.
And, if caught out in such a manoeuvre, being subsequently regarded as a complete idiot in local or international circles can never be in the best interests of either side.
And so, with violence effectively removed from the spectrum of diplomatic activity, a more relaxed, confident and congenial atmosphere must obtain, thereby improving immeasurably the chances of peaceful resolution for a conflict very much in need of one.