As far as the latest Arab-Israeli peace initiative is concerned, the jury would still appear to be very much out on the chances for its further development. Final ratification seems an even more distant prospect.
How can any sort of settlement ever be reached when so many loose ends, unsatisfied demands, historical injustices and downright out-and-out antagonism still permeate the mindsets of so many in the region?
The ideal solution here would be to draw a line under all of the past 65 years and more, erase the memories of several generations and start afresh, free from the immense amount of physical and psychological damage that has accumulated in well over six decades of conflict.
But no such line can be drawn and there are some memories that not even death can erase.
What then to do?
The next best thing is to provide a way of dealing with the overall situation without inflicting additional trauma and burden on people and communities already too well served in such matters.
The trick here is to make everyone an offer, an offer they can’t refuse.
But why can’t they refuse this offer?
1. Refusal would indicate to the world in general and, perhaps, even to themselves that their desire to create conditions for a lasting peace is just so much posturing and delaying tactics; they would rather maintain the status quo than run the tiniest risk of losing some small part of their cherished dreams.
2. They can’t refuse because, if they do and the other side accepts, what then? One side is revealed as being much more dedicated to the cause of peace while the other is seen as backward and dim witted, unable to comprehend the one real opportunity to finally exit so long-standing a conflict.
3. The rest of the world, even old allies, could legitimately stop all external aid and resources to parts of the region; why should they continue to help out people that persist in not helping themselves.
4. Most of those living in these communities profess belief in a deity of some sort. Indeed, this seems to be something of a requirement throughout the entire neighbourhood. It might be a bit tricky then to explain, when the time comes, why they did not take full advantage of so simple a solution and thereby prevent much death, pain and suffering to those of present and future generations.
For Jews, Christians, Muslims of today and, I suspect, not a few atheists as well, the answer to certain questions may ultimately hold far more meaning than any amount of real estate could ever equal.