Mapping a Way Forward


Published January 26, 2011, issue of February 04, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

There is always reason for despair when it comes to the prospect of a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and there’s no sense in enumerating why. The evidence is obvious. Those of us buoyed by each new attempt to jumpstart talks too often feel like Jets fans at the beginning of football season, bound for disappointment.

So maybe the maps and the papers will amount to nothing. But maybe, just maybe, not.

The maps are a pile of color-coded, detailed plans researched and released by David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a centrist think tank, suggesting three scenarios for creating a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders while disrupting as few Jewish settlements as possible. The driving principle is a one-to-one land swap; that is, if a settlement in the West Bank is to remain part of Israel, then a commensurate amount of Israeli land will become part of the new Palestinian state.

Makovsky argues that this can be done with Israel annexing no more than 4.73% of the occupied territories, a share that he believes is within an acceptable range for Palestinians. The details on these maps are quite debatable, as is the very notion that borders can be settled without also tackling the core issues of Jerusalem, refugees and security. But summarily dismissing these legitimate proposals only hastens another season of disappointment. Makovsky says he wanted to show that it can be done, that solutions are imaginable, and he’s right. They are.

The simultaneous (though coincidental) release of what have been called “the Palestine papers” also could be another bit of frustrating news. Or maybe not. The leaked documents purport to illustrate the concessions that Palestinian leaders were willing to accept during negotiations in 2008. The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV network presumably hoped that the Palestinian public would be furious at their leaders over these revelations, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Instead, these papers could serve a useful purpose if they prepare Palestinians for the sacrifices they will have to make for peace to be achieved, and if they persuade Israelis and their supporters that the Palestinians are, indeed, willing to sacrifice.

In this fraught environment, optimists run the risk of looking silly. Or they may end up being prescient.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.