In his Dec. 14 op-ed, “A nightmare scenario in the Middle East,” Jackson Diehl described the “potentially outsize consequences” of the “slowly escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis.” Though, as he noted, “[Secretary of State John F.] Kerry and President Obama have finally accepted that neither Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing or able” to make a deal that would settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is something Mr. Kerry could do to avert these consequences.
Mr. Kerry should issue a document outlining U.S. insights gained from the negotiations he brokered in 2013 and 2014. It would outline the Obama administration’s parameters for the conflict’s endgame and would not need the endorsement of either side. He could submit this document to the United Nations Security Council as the basis for future talks.
This could induce Mr. Netanyahu to declare that Israel has no sovereignty claims over areas east of the West Bank security fence and in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and enact legislation enabling the voluntary relocation of settlers from these areas (while keeping the Israel Defense Forces in place for now).
By taking a more modest approach, the Obama administration could help ease tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and create movement toward a reality of two states for two peoples.
Gilead Sher, Tel Aviv
The writer, a former Israeli senior peace
negotiator who was chief of staff to
Prime Minister Ehud Barak, is co-chair of the
Israeli organization Blue White Future and head of the Center for Applied Negotiations at
Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.