UN declaration won’t mitigate hard realities

July 25, 2011

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JAMES CARROLL is right in asserting that the “principle of Palestinian independence is not radical’’ (“Israel’s opportunity to stop a train wreck,’’ Op-ed, July 18). In fact, Israelis overwhelmingly support a two-state solution that would allow for a permanent peace with their Palestinian neighbors.

Unlike Carroll, however, most Israelis also have to consider a number of difficult realities before they agree to withdraw to national boundaries that will be as narrow as 9 miles and no more than 60 miles at their widest.

Israel currently shares borders with Gaza and Lebanon, both of which have governments sworn to its destruction. Other neighboring states, including Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, host powerful constituencies that may one day govern and may also reject reconciliation with Israel. To complicate matters further, these rejectionists enjoy broad support from an array of countries, including an emerging nuclear power, Iran.

A unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence would not mitigate these realities, nor would it encourage Israelis to take the existential risks that any peace settlement would require. The only path to peace is through negotiations that lead all parties to grapple with hard issues, make historic compromises, and sell them to their publics.

This is what Palestinian leaders have avoided doing time and again. Carroll should be urging the parties back to the peace table without preconditions rather than abetting a transparent effort to further isolate Israel and avoid the process of peace-making.

Jon Dorfman Paul Stanzler
The writers are members of the board of directors for AJC Boston.