Perhaps because I work in the field of international affairs some of the most common quesitons I receive involve the failure of peace processes in the Middle East. Now recognize that I am not an expert in either the region or peace negotiations, nor do I have more than a cursory understanding of the issues. So who is this the touchstone question?
In part, it seems to me that this is the intransigent issue–the question that cannot ever seem to be solved. It is the Big Riddle. And perhaps Americans, in their spirit of can-do and optimism for difficult problems just cannot make sense why we should not be able to help facilitate a solution.
I ususally suggest they thing about a major family disagreement or some type of existential disagreement they have experienced over time with a supervisor, a friend, or a customer. Multiply that by 1000. That is the Middle East.
And so when Dennis Ross, a steady and studied hand of the region offers a way forward, its worth paying attention. (Don’t miss the link which includes a graphic of the full agenda):
I propose a 14-point agenda for discussions. Twelve of the points — six on the Israeli side and six on the Palestinian side — would be coordinated unilateral moves that each party would be willing to discuss and implement provided that the other side would do its part. The final points would be mutual steps taken concurrently by both sides. The goal would be to chip away at the sources of each side’s disbelief about the other’s commitment to a genuine two-state solution.