Frum: “How about peace without process”

[Sounds good to me]
By David Frum, National Post

[..] It’s aptly joked that we have a peace process that is all process, no peace.

Maybe instead of some grand bargain, we should be looking for some way to quarantine the quarrel — some way to de-escalate the issue’s power to do harm.

Think of the Israeli security fence as a model. It did not bring peace. It did not settle some hypothetical future border. It just drew a line between Israelis and Palestinians, blocking the reach of terrorist groups across the line. A reduction in terror is not “peace,” but it delivers the same results.

The West Bank governs itself. It’s not a country exactly, but then neither is Kosovo or Nagorno-Karabakh. The international community does not invest much energy worrying about the precise status of either of these autonomous self-governing regions. Why not allow the Palestinian Authority to stumble along in the same way?

As the Palestinian leaders themselves keep signalling, they face a desperate dilemma.

No Palestinian leader (the Palestinians believe) can possibly survive signing a treaty that does not deliver (1) a big slice of Jerusalem; (2) the uprooting of Israeli settlements in the West Bank; and (3) and some big acknowledgment of a so-called Palestinian right of return to Israel proper.

On the other hand, no Israeli politician will yield those things. The Palestinians do not have the strength to force the concession, and the United States is exceedingly unlikely to impose it.
The solution is messy but obvious: Don’t sign anything. No treaty, no ceremony, no need for the Palestinian leadership to explain to their people why the leaders have abandoned the historic goals of the Palestinian national movement. The goals can remain intact, just deactivated for now, postponed to the future when conditions may be different.

Then, for the time being–a time that may stretch for decades– everybody tacitly agrees to live with the status quo: The Israelis keep what they have, the West Bank Palestinians commit to keep order on their side of the fence, Hamas remains an international pariah, foreign aid continues to flow to the West Bank so long as good behaviour continues. No process, no treaty, just quiet and development.

It’s not a great deal for the Palestinians, obviously. Certainly not as good a deal as they would have had if they had accepted the deals on offer in 1937 or 1947 or 1968 or 2000. But they didn’t accept those offers, and they have lapsed.

As the unspoken peace takes hold, the world can hope that Palestinian prosperity and Israeli security will soothe old quarrels. There may never be a peace agreement. But the alternative to a signed peace does not have to be fighting.

May 7, 2010 | Comments »

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