Time is running out for Israel and the Palestinians. Barack Obama is probably the last American president to have the option of pursuing an accord leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the so-called two-state solution.
If that fails, another generation will be locked into bloodshed and strife. That is the bleak scenario painted by two senior American Middle East experts in a new book, Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President. It is the product of an 18-month joint study by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, two pillars of the U.S. foreign policy establishment.
The authors of the chapter on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Steven A. Cook and Shibley Telhami, see American involvement in peace diplomacy as indispensable and say last month’s presidential elections opened new opportunities. But they note that after years of unsuccessful negotiations, there is a
growing sense of disbelief in the possibility of a peaceful agreement.
“More troubling, an increasing number of Palestinian and Arab intellectuals are abandoning the idea of a two-state solution and are now advocating a one-state solution in which Jews and Arabs coexist in a binational state. In Israel some mainstream voices are now arguing that the two-state solution is