Framing the peace process as a negotiation between the interested parties, with more or less active American facilitation, will not work, for reasons I (and others) have laid out, again and again. Colin Powell once said that America cannot want peace more than the parties themselves. It was one of the most fatuous formulations by an American Secretary of State in a long series.
In fact, the leaders of Israel and Palestine will not want peace more than their fanatic oppositions; and they will cling to power by trafficking in the demagogy of national solidarity. Moreover, America is itself an interested party. It is time for the Quartet to present its plan, from Jerusalem to refugees. Oh, and don’t we all know what the plan is, from Jerusalem to refugees?
Obama, in other words, has to start by imposing an agenda on Israel’s conversation. He can win over Israelis eventually, but only if every front page story for the next six months is about whether or not Bibi and Lieberman are destroying relations with Washington. That is the only thing Israeli elites fear more than the loss of solidarity. That is what empowers the peace camp, such as it is: the chance to appear, not the party of concessions, but the party of America.