The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Toward an Equitable and Durable Solution

By Miller, Aaron David | Strategic Forum, July 2005 | Go to article overview

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Toward an Equitable and Durable Solution


Miller, Aaron David, Strategic Forum


Key Points

There is an equitable and durable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. But such a solution can only be achieved through a long, imperfect process of negotiation. Sadly, Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs in general still see the struggle as an existential conflict over physical security and political identity. U.S. diplomacy must recognize that ending the conflict is a generational proposition.

The fundamental asymmetry between Israeli power and Palestinian weakness undermines any prospect of making the Oslo peace process work.

President Mahmoud Abbas hopes to finish Oslo, but suffers from an absence of legitimacy. Israelis and Americans could enhance his authority by facilitating his ability to deliver politically and economically. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon does not believe there is a mutually acceptable two-state solution to the conflict. His objective is to improve Israel's tactical, political, and demographic position as best he can for the ensuing struggle.

Through the end of 2005 at least, U.S. policy can only hope to manage the conflict. Following a successful Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, President George W. Bush seems poised to seek Israeli-Palestinian agreement to a state with provisional borders. Success of this initiative would hinge on U.S. willingness to press Israel hard on further settlement building and, subsequently, to draft and sanction a plan for the end game that lays out the parameters for resolving each of the four or five core issues in this conflict.

In any discussion of U.S. policy toward the Arab-Israeli issue, honest debate and clarity are essential. During my nearly 25 years of advising 6 U.S. secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations, 3 basic propositions have been relevant throughout, including during these last 4 years when everything that right-thinking Arabs, Israelis, and Americans worked to achieve seemed to be battered down or broken.

First, there is an equitable and durable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. These words--equitable and durable--are chosen carefully. There is no perfect justice and there never was. Although not necessarily applicable to all conflicts, the one line that needs to be emblazoned over the portal of every negotiating room in the world is that "thou shall not make of the perfect the enemy of the good." Conflicts are resolved when people understand and recognize this.

Second, the only way this conflict will ever be resolved is through the flawed process of negotiation--flawed because it is based on human frailty and weakness, influenced by domestic politics, and requires difficult choices, particularly when these conflicts and the parties who wage them believe they are existential in nature. This is still the perception on the part of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Arabs in general: that this is really an existential conflict over physical security and political identity.

And finally, the United States has a role to play in this process. In an existential conflict, no great power that is distant to the region can impose or will a solution. The Middle East is littered with the remains of great powers who believed they could impose their will on small tribes. America should not play that kind of role. Iraq is just a cautionary tale. However, the United States has carried out effective diplomacy in the past and is capable of doing so again when certain basic concepts and assumptions are understood. Without a different kind of American role, however, there will be no resolution of this conflict.

A Generational View

The issue of time is a critical variable in any negotiation. Negotiators who misjudge time as a variable are doomed to failure. Arguably, that was probably one of the most critical mistakes made in the last 2 years of the Clinton administration. Policy is usually viewed in terms of Presidential administrations. But there is another view, and that is a generational one. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Toward an Equitable and Durable Solution
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.