The Israel-Palestine conflict is rich with many things, but nothing is so widespread in it as useless aphorisms.
One of the most destructive of these is the oft-repeated mantra that “only direct negotiations between the two parties will resolve this conflict.” It was explicitly repeated today by leading Israeli hasbaranik, Mark Regev. I’ve touched before on this point, but now it seems to be gaining wider traction.
argues that only “great power intervention” can be expected to resolve this conflict. While I disagree with much of Sachar’s reasoning, his conclusion is inescapable. (Note: A tip of the hat to Bernard Avishai for pointing to this article).
Sachar’s reading of history tells him that small powers do not make peace by themselves and that only great power intervention settles these conflicts (for good or ill, as Sachar freely admits). That’s as may be, but, some would argue, the Israel-Palestine conflict has many dimensions that make it historically unique, so perhaps that principle would not apply here.
It is to this question that the major point Sachar misses in his essay provides an answer.
The disparity in power between Israel and the Palestinians is often pointed out, and this is no small factor. But there is another, more fundamental one that ultimately is the single biggest reason that bilateral negotiations are doomed to fail, and that only powerful outside intervention will ever resolve this conflict — that is the simple calculus that the status quo, or something close to it is preferable for Israeli leaders. Continue reading