The Story We're Not Getting Here
Jonathan Broder of Congressional Quarterly wrote this very insightful piece on where the debate is at in Israel. I'll give you a few tasters here, but the entire piece is worth a look:
The left's hopes for a negotiated settlement dissipated with the breakdown of the Camp David effort. And now, the bold move toward unilateralism seems spent.
But for the Israeli left, something has changed: namely, offers for peace talks over the past few months from Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Palestinian Authority. Most significant is the Saudi plan, endorsed by the 22-nation Arab League, which offers Israel full peace, recognition and normalization with the entire Arab world. The price: Israel's withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, estbalishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital, and an "agreed" solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.
This approach, even if entirely sincere, poses enormous challenges because it forces both sides to confront their separate - and sacred- historical narratives of the events that led to both Israel's creation and the Palestinian exodus. For Israelis, it raises the question of what responsibility they bear in the creation of the refugee problem in Israel's first year of existence.
Syria, on the other hand:
Israel's debate over the Syrian offer for peace talks has nothing to do with the weighty issues of history or recognition. In this case, the question is whether Israel is obligated to follow the Bush administration's policy of resisting talks with Damascus in order to isolate the regime there. Increasingly, serious scholars are questioning the conventional wisdom that it makes strategic sense for Israel, a tiny country surrounded by Muslim hostility, to hew closely to the policies of the United States, its most important ally.
Broder hears the "three nos" coming from Jerusalem now:
Israelis often refer to their offer soon after the 1967 war to negotiate a withdrawal from territories taken in that conflict in return for peace and recognition from the Arabs. In the same breath, they remind the world that the Arab League, meeting later that year in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, responded to Israel's offer with its famous "three nos" - no negotations, no recognition, no peace.
Now, Israelis on the left openly question whether their government is actually afraid to reach a comprehensive agreement with the Arabs because of the price it will have to pay. And that skepticism is spreading to some in the political center as well.