The world’s attention may be focused on Ukraine, but other geopolitical trouble spots aren’t going away. As Russian troops move into Crimea and Western leaders discuss sanctions, the clock is ticking on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The deadline for a framework for negotiations that is acceptable to both sides is only a month away. It seems unlikely agreement will be reached within that time — both sides have said as much. And after the deadline passes, no one knows when or if future negotiations will take place. Some predict the death of the two-state solution.
That is not an acceptable outcome.
As frustrating and laborious as bilateral talks have become, the alternative is to abandon hope of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Talking, even fruitless talking, is preferable to an eternal status quo or, worse, intifada and bloodshed.
Absent such talks, tensions in the West Bank will increase to a boiling point. The demographic time bomb — an eventual Arab majority (and Jewish minority) in the combined area of Israel and the Palestinian territories — grows closer.
And no matter how much Israel’s supporters push back, boycotts and other efforts to isolate Israel on the global stage continue to mount. Some will succeed, as we have seen to our dismay.
It is of no use to point out that Israel is the more aggrieved party, that Palestinian terrorists continue to strike first while Israel responds. It is of no use to complain that Palestinian leaders demand that Israel and the world recognize their need for a homeland while refusing to acknowledge Israel as the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people.
Being right has little bearing on outcome.
One way — in fact, the only way — to achieve the goal of a safe and secure Israel is to keep the dialogue going and work toward the two-state solution that even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he supports.
We certainly do not place the burden for this solely on Israel. John Kerry did not help with his inflammatory comment last month that if Israel does not accept his framework it will “create a reality of its own” and make boycotts of Israel more likely.
Obviously, with their intransigence on multiple key issues, the Palestinians have not helped move the needle either.
The blame game does not move us closer to a solution. We who passionately love Israel urge the parties to press on, forgo absolute deadlines and keep working until peace is achieved. It is not impossible. It is just very, very difficult.