RAMALLAH, April 25 (JMCC) - Palestinians, Israelis and the United States are all preparing individual gambits to promote their separate perspectives on how peace in the Middle East should proceed.
Aaron David Miller in Foreign Policy
, none of these coming bids has much in the way of policy to shore it up.
The wise former secretary of state, George Shultz, used to say that when you don't have a policy, the pressure builds to give a speech. These days, that appears to be the focal point of the current efforts on all three sides. In short, if you can't or won't do, then at least talk. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to pre-empt the United States with his own plan; President Barack Obama is considering pre-empting the prime minister with his own; and the Palestinians, well, they're planning to counter with their own U.N. gambit on statehood.
The problem with all these initiatives is that none have a strategy to move from words to deeds. The Palestinians actually come closest with their U.N. initiative, but this is, under the best of circumstances, a dangerous leap in the dark unlikely to produce real statehood -- and more likely to generate trouble. All these budding initiatives have the feel of a game of gotcha or musical chairs designed to deflect or pre-empt pressure and put it on someone else -- to see, in effect, who's the odd man out when the music stops.
Negotiations remain the only realistic path forward, but the gaps on the core issues are too large to bridge at present. Or to put it more explicitly, Israeli and Palestinian leaders are too constrained to bridge them; the Arab world is too distracted to bring much focus to the problem; and the United States is too unsure about how or what to do about any of the above. As Shultz noted, it's the perfect time to give a speech.