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Palestinians Should Just Say Yes

Author: Charles A. Kupchan, Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow
September 15, 2010
International Herald Tribune

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For over six decades, Israelis and Palestinians have been locked in cycles of violence punctuated by fruitless efforts to forge a peace settlement. Given this dismal track record, a breakthrough in the new negotiations now under way will require a bold move to prevent the talks from again ending in stalemate.

Since Israel holds virtually all the cards — the land, the tanks, the wealth, the water — the Palestinians should make that bold move by taking what they can get, not what they want.

The Palestinian Authority should make Israel an offer it can't refuse by leapfrogging the logjam and declaring publicly that it is prepared to accept the outlines of the deal that successive Israeli governments have put on the table.

To the end of securing its main objective — statehood — the Palestinian Authority should acquiesce to major Jewish settlements in the West Bank in a swap for territory in Israel; it should give up the right of return for most Palestinian refugees and instead secure monetary compensation; it should accept effective demilitarization of a Palestinian state in order to meet Israel's security needs; and the Palestinian Authority should aim to locate its capital in Arab East Jerusalem.

Although it may seem like an act of folly for the Palestinian Authority to accept Israel's terms as its opening move, Palestinian leaders have little choice: They can opt for statehood on these terms — or no state at all.

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