As unfulfilled hopes of peace in the Middle East in 2010 fade from memory, the spectre of war in 2011 looms large. The collapse of Barack Obama’s attempt to broker direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians has created a dangerous vacuum. Men of violence vie to fill it.
There is another way. It could prevent renewed bloodletting, would potentially provide relief and justice for both sides, would likely be supported by most Israelis and Palestinians, and would help clear the path to a wider Arab-Israeli settlement. It is the immediate declaration of an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, recognised by the US and UN. It is an idea whose time has come.
The current situation, dissected by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley in this site last month, is not tenable. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president who pinned his policy on talks, is critically wounded by their failure. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, having rebuffed Obama’s centrist approach, has rendered himself hostage to Israel’s more assertive hard right.