July 27, 2013
WHEN YOU have a conflict between two parties, the way to solve it is clear: you put them in the same room, let them thrash out their differences and emerge with a reasonable solution acceptable to both.
For example, a conflict between a wolf and a lamb. Put them in the same room, let them thrash out their differences and emerge with…
Just a moment. The wolf emerges. Now where's that lamb?
IF YOU have a conflict between two parties who are like a wolf and a lamb, you must have a third party in the room, just to make sure that Party 1 does not have Party 2 for dinner while the talks are going on.
The balance of power between
This is a fact of life. It is up to the Third Party to balance this somehow.
Can it be done? Will it be done?
I HAVE ALWAYS liked John Kerry. He radiates an air of honesty, sincerity, that seems real. His dogged efforts command respect. The announcement this week that he has at long last achieved even the first stage of talks between the parties can give some room for optimism.
As Mao said: A march of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The parties have agreed to a meeting of delegates to work out the preliminary
details. It should take place this coming week in
The first question is: who will be the third person? It has been leaked that the leading candidate for this delicate task is Martin Indyk, a veteran former State Department officer.
This is a problematic choice. Indyk is Jewish and very much involved in Jewish
and Zionist activity. He was born in
Right-wing Israelis object to him because he is active in left-wing Israeli
institutions. He is a member of the board of the New
Palestinians may well ask whether among the 300 million
I HAVE met Indyk several times, generally at diplomatic receptions (not US embassy receptions, to which I was not invited.) Once I sent him a letter connected with his name.
The story about the Indyk is well known to anyone versed in Jewish folklore. It
was told by a very influential Jewish rabbi, Nachman of Braslaw (1772-1811), who
has many followers even today in
Once upon a time there was this prince who suffered under the delusion that he was an Indyk (turkey in Yiddish – from the Hebrew for Indian hen. He was sitting naked under a table and eating only crumbs thrown to him.
After all the doctors failed to cure him, a wise rabbi undertook the task. He stripped off his clothes, sat naked under the table and started acting like an Indyk too. Step by step he convinced the prince that an indyk may wear clothes, eat regular food and, in the end, sit at the table instead of under it. That way the prince was cured.
Some might say that this story has a direct bearing on his future job, if he is indeed chosen. Two naked Indyks are now under the table, and his job will be to get them to sit at the table and talk seriously about peace.
True, the Palestinians are used to having crumbs thrown to them, but they may now demand some real food.
THE CHANCES for any peace negotiations may be assessed by the atmosphere prevailing on both sides, the terminology they use and the internal discussions they conduct.
These are not very inspiring.
Most Israelis ignore the event altogether, believing that Netanyahu's and Mahmoud Abbas' sole aim is to abort the negotiations in such a way as to put the onus on the other side. Most Palestinians believe the same. Peace is definitely not in the air.
However, a poll conducted this week showed that a large majority of Israelis – 55 to 25 (or, to percentualize it, 69 to 31) - would vote in a referendum for a peace agreement achieved by the Prime Minister. I have never had any doubt about this.
The idea of holding a referendum about a peace agreement is
now being advocated by the Right and resisted
by the Left. I am in favor. Without a solid majority, it would in any case be
almost impossible for any government to remove settlements. And I believe that
any concrete agreement accepted by a credible Palestinian leadership and
recommended by the
MOST OF the experts say that
I beg to disagree..
First, there is the saying that you cannot cross an abyss in two jumps. No
stopping in the middle. We quoted this saying to Yitzhak Rabin after
The fatal flaw of the
The only way to proceed is first of all to reach an agreement on the “core issues”. This can be implemented over some time – though I would not recommend that either.
Israeli-Palestinian peace is a huge step in the history of the two peoples. If we have the courage to do it, let’s do it, for God’s sake, without lying down along the way and crying.
AT THE moment, the great riddle is: what has Kerry promised each side in secret?
The method seems sound. Since the two sides could not agree on anything, and each demanded that the other start negotiations “without pre-conditions” while posing a lot of pre-conditions themselves, Kerry chose a different way.
It is based on a simple logic: in the American-Israeli-Palestinian triangle, almost all decisions will have to be made two-to-one. In practice, each side needs American support to get its demands accepted.
So, instead of trying to achieve the impossible – Israeli-Palestinian agreement
on the basis of the negotiations -
For example, at a guess: a promise that the
In the past, the
In spite of such experiences, Abbas put his trust in Kerry. It seems that Kerry has the gift of inspiring such trust. Let’s hope he does not squander it.
So, with or without a turkey to keep the wolf from devouring the lamb, and in spite of all the past disappointments, let’s hope that this time real negotiations get going and lead towards peace. The alternative is too dismal to contemplate.