President Obama and his team of Middle East specialists have forcibly opened the door to inculcate direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians even as pundits on all sides are busily projecting the failure of this new round of talks. However, there are many steps that can be taken and built together to generate a momentum making peace inevitable:
It is possible to recognize many of the traps in advance, such as the September 26th deadline on the Israeli settlement freeze and use the realities on the ground to affect a compromise that allows each side to get enough to overcome this pre-condition. The history of the Oslo peace process and the second Camp David talks provide a playbook of political and military entanglements to avoid.
A series of new coalitions supporting the peace process must be formed both within Israel/Palestine and across the globe. In the United States an important new coalition would mean connecting the membership of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and J Street. It is necessary for the left and right to actively support the peace process together and for their support to help to engender other organized constituencies to come together and demonstrate their own affinity for peace.
The power of the Quartet is often diluted by the negotiations between its four entities. It is necessary to free each member to make their own bold statements and play a far more direct role in the peace process. One example would be for the European Union to announce its support for the peace process by offering to provide $10 billion toward the establishment of an international refugee compensation fund. The United Nations can choose to improve its relationship with the State of Israel by creating a list of concrete steps to take Israel out of the international dock. Russia can work directly and publicly with the international community to freeze the nuclear program of Iran and effectively remove this overriding issue from the path to peace. The United States needs to recalibrate the peace process to formally include these international partners, (willingly sharing the limelight), and more in a new and broader diplomatic collaboration and publicity campaign for peace.
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