In its quest for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, the United States has pursued essentially the same objective over several administrations. So when Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced during his latest round of shuttle diplomacy that “we can achieve a permanent-status agreement that results in two states for two peoples if we stay focused,” skepticism was understandable.
Not just because the peace process has been so tragically unsuccessful over the last 15 years, but because even today, each side seems intent on thumbing its nose at the other.
But there is also some reason for guarded optimism. First, Kerry has invested immense energy in trying to achieve an agreement. Second, despite periodic allegations of bad faith, Israelis and Palestinians are seriously talking to each other after a long rupture. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has grudgingly endorsed the notion of a two-state solution, though Palestinians and some Israelis doubt his sincerity. Finally, Saudi Arabia is supporting Kerry’s effort.
In recent years, Netanyahu has demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel not only as an independent nation but as a “Jewish state,” a designation he has called “the real key to peace.” For Palestinians, being required to recognize Israel as a Jewish state would be a ratification of second-class citizenship for Israel’s Arabs.
Disagreement over this issue shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Los Angeles Times