Barriers to a two-state solution are gradually being torn down.by Alan Johnson / July 4, 2013 / Leave a comment
“Unscrupulous optimism” was a very useful expression coined by the German philosopher Arnold Schopenhauer to capture that kind of hope that has become detached from evidence and so is dangerously delusionary.
There has been no shortage of commentators who have accused the US Secretary of State John Kerry of this sin since he began his pursuit of a final status deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. And after Kerry’s fifth visit to the region since March–a frantic 72-hour whirl involving four meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and three with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas–produced no announcement of final status talks, the charge is being made with new even greater vigour.
But is it fair? Kerry’s protestations that real progress has been made, that gaps have been significantly narrowed, that a resumption of final status talks may be within reach, were all taken to be further proof of his unscrupulous optimism.
But what if Kerry is right? What if too many commentators are guilty of what Raymond Tallis calls ‘unscrupulous pessimism’–a demoralising cynicism that sneers at any attempt to improve things as doomed, forever picturing us as acting “in darkness in the grip of impulses that we haven’t fully understood” and laughing at the liberating idea that “conscious human agency [is] the chief motor of change”.
So, here is the case for John Kerry’s scrupulous optimism.
First, the two peoples still support the two-state solution, despite all, as a poll this week confirmed.
Second, the international community–with its diplomatic weight, capacity to legitimise and its material resources–supports the two-state solution.
Third, the Arab League supports the two-state solution. The 2001 Arab peace initiative–which offers recognition to Israel in return for a two-state deal along the 1967 lines–was renewed this year with an amendment; the principle of land swaps was accepted. This matters hugely for two reasons: the Palestinians need the regional diplomatic cover to make the two-state deal; the Israelis need the regional buy-in to take the tremendous security risks involved in making the two-state deal. Kerry secured this and should have got more credit for doing so.
Fourth, both leaders, Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu, are (reluctant) two-staters.…