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The Middle East Peace Industry

Author: Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy
May 11, 2010
American Interest


George Mitchell (below) has arrived in Jerusalem and the ‘proximity talks' have started, but it is not at all clear what will come of them.

The Middle East peace process is the longest running piece of diplomatic theater on the world stage.  Dating from World War One, the effort to reconcile the aspirations of the Jews and the Arabs for statehood in the lands seized from the Ottoman Empire by the Allies in World War One and assigned to the British has inspired wave after wave of commission reports, diplomatic ventures, formal and informal negotiations direct and indirect between the parties, debates and resolutions in the League of Nations and the UN, passionate political debates within the region and beyond, one war after another, and waves of ethnic violence and terrorism by both Arabs and Jews.

The debate has always been between two general visions of the future of the land: a one-state solution in which the region's Arab majority would establish a state with varying levels of possible protection and autonomy for the Jews (ranging from expulsion to some kind of confederal status) or a multi-state solution in which a Jewish state and one or more Arab states would divide the territory with varying levels of protection and guarantees for minorities caught on the ‘wrong' side of the borders.

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