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Stop Focusing on the Settlements to Achieve Peace in the Middle East

Graffiti on a section of Israel's separation barrier last month.
Graffiti on a section of Israel's separation barrier last month. (By Bernat Armangue -- Associated Press)

It would be worth exploring the reasons that the Palestinians rejected my offer and preferred, instead, to drag their feet, avoiding real decisions. My proposal would have helped realize the "two-state solution" in accordance with the principles of the U.S. administration, the Israeli government I led and the criteria the Palestinian leadership has followed throughout the years.

I believe it is crucial to review the lessons from the Palestinians' rejection of such an offer.

The focus on settlement construction, while ignoring the previous understandings, unjustly skews the focus from a true political process and from dealing with the real strategic issues confronting the region.

Settlement construction should be taken off the public agenda and moved to a discrete dialogue, as in the past. This would enhance our bilateral relations and allow us to deal with the essential issues: the political process; preventing Iran's attempt to obtain nuclear weapons; eliminating Islamic extremist terrorism; and creating the necessary dialogue for normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab world.

The time to deal with such important matters is running out. We cannot waste what time we do have on non-priority issues.

The writer was prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009.

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