SEVEN STEPS TO PEACE
During the secret Oslo negotiations in Norway in the 1990s, both Israelis and Palestinians have proven that they can talk to each other clearly and with minimum ambiguity.39 There are qualified people in both camps who can still do that if given the opportunity. Occasionally, each one of the contenders will need a “lawyer” to consult with. At time of writing, despite their major handicaps vis-à-vis Israel, the United States remains to some extent the only lawyer the Israelis may at least partially trust. Being the country that was at the origin of the mayhem in the Holy Land, Britain should be in a better position than most to act as the occasional lawyer for the Palestinians. The two powers have been involved the longest in this conflict, and they command the respect and attention of both people. The representatives of the USA and the UK must absolutely not be the same individuals who played that role so far, and almost appeared as if intentionally, but sometimes out of culturally misunderstanding both Palestinians and Israelis, as if they were bent on sabotaging all agreement between the two adversaries.
The most difficult part will be choosing representatives for the Israelis and for the Palestinians who will be partners in the process. Negotiations and agreements must be handled by people on both sides who are capable of being politically balanced as much as can be. These empowered representatives must be chosen among the most highly respected, qualified and knowledgeable individuals within each nation, who are familiar with the roots of the problem on both sides, who believe in settling the conflict equitably, and who can reach an accommodating settlement between the two parties.
Arab governments, which are incapable of solving their own internal problems, which were created by them in the first place, may be consulted occasionally for their opinions, but they certainly should not be directly involved in the negotiations or implementation unless it is a bilateral border-related issue. Otherwise, implicating the Arab governments during the initial stages of negotiations will certainly lead to a dead-end!
The proposed mutually satisfactory accommodation between the Israelis and the Palestinians calls for seven steps. Some steps must be accomplished in sequence in the proposed order, while others can take place simultaneously depending on the prevailing conditions.
This gradual approach towards a mutually satisfactory accommodation would allow the Israelis not to be unduly edgy about security threats. It would also allow the Palestinians not to keep looking behind their back every minute of day and night fearing an Israeli incursion or attack of one kind or another. It should offer both parties a physical separation and breathing space for as long as needed in light of the prevalent situation.
As for peace, i.e. when the two parties will be ready to enter into direct bilateral negotiations to establish peace between them, the process may require several years, and possibly a generation or two, before the magic word is even mentioned.