TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
On April 16, I circulated Sari Nusseibeh's "best last chance" proposal for actually achieving a decent "two-state solution". Attached is a revised version of this proposal which Sari has now submitted to George Mitchell.
If the new American administration is genuinely interested in actually accomplishing something rather than simply in killing more time (and, notwithstanding Hillary Clinton's recent pronouncements, there is still reason to hope), this proposal should attract serious attention from Senator Mitchell and President Obama.
Any informed and concerned observer must surely recognize that, after all the years during which Israeli governments which formally professed an interest in negotiating "peace" with the Palestinians failed to make any progress toward that end, simply wasting time while their great settlement project metastasized (as was no doubt their true objective), dragging the new Netanyahu-Lieberman regime, which at least has the intellectual honesty not to pretend that it has any interest whatsoever in any sort of "two-state solution", kicking and screaming, to an umpteenth round of desultory bilateral talks ostensibly seeking to reach that goal could not conceivably produce a better result.
Such an approach would simply constitute yet another cynical episode in the perpetual play-acting of a pretend "peace process" pursued purely to fend off any pressure to actually do something constructive and useful. Even Avigdor Lieberman has stated that further Israeli-Palestinian talks would be a waste of time and that new approaches should be explored and considered. On that general principle, if on little else, most reality-based observers should be able to agree with him.
If the expiring aspiration of a decent "two-state solution" is to be given a last chance, it should at least be given a last chance that offers some hope, however modest, of success. A "radically different approach" along the general lines of Sari's proposal, perhaps with a Palestinian as well as an Israeli referendum on the fully fleshed-out "solution" proposed by President Obama personally or by the UN General Assembly (which proposed the original, bare-bones "two-state solution" in 1947) collectively, would offer such a hope.
If a serious "last chance" effort fails -- or, indeed, is not even attempted -- then the world could and should lower the curtain on the misspent efforts of two worse-than-wasted decades and move on to seeking peace with some measure of justice through democracy and equal rights. Since such a simple and morally unimpeachable approach would be so simple and morally unimpeachable, and since it would not seek to reward, legitimize and perpetuate ethnic cleansing, racism and apartheid, it would have the potential to inspire hearts and minds in a manner which none of the excruciatingly complicated and problem-riddled formulas for a "two-state solution" (including my own 21-year-old "Two States, One Holy Land" framework for peace) ever have or ever could.
Either way, killing time should no longer be either an objective or an option.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2009 5:13 PM
Subject: Let the people decide!
Dear Senator Mitchell,
I am attaching with this email an idea which I am hoping might appeal to you as you look into ways and means of bringing peace to us in the region. I have already given an earlier version of it to the U.S. Consul-General when he came to visit me a couple of days ago. There are reminiscences in it of an article by John Whitbeck written some years ago, in which he urges that the UN be the "prime mover" of such an initiative. But my feeling is that this is the kind of initiative that only President Obama may be willing and able to undertake with success.
I look forward to meeting with you on one of your forthcoming trips to the region,
With my best wishes