January 10, 2013

As one of the “six of Israel’s living internal security chiefs” Jeremy Ben-Ami referred to in his Jan. 4 op-ed, “Preserving the two-state solution,” I agree with his description of the “new realities” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of the “need to chart a far different course.” But I disagree with him as to what that course must be.

Because of the parties’ “lack of trust,” President Obama’s laying out the “parameters for resolving the conflict” and a “process for mediated discussions,” as Mr. Ben-Ami suggested, will not work by themselves, just as direct negotiations have not.

Each party should take unilateral steps, which do not require trust, that will gradually create a two-state reality but not obstacles to an eventual agreement. We at Blue White Future call this approach “constructive unilateralism.”

For the Israeli government, it would begin with an announcement that Israel will not maintain sovereignty over territories east of the West Bank security barrier in any future solution. Subsequent unilateral steps include a construction freeze east of the security barrier and in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and a voluntary evacuation-compensation law for settlers who wish to return to Israel proper.

President Obama should encourage and support this approach. It would reduce tension and build trust among Israelis and Palestinians, so that they in turn might press their leaders to obtain a two-state solution.

Ami Ayalon, Kerem Maharal, Israel

Ami Ayalon is a co-founder of Blue White Future and the former director of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency.