Pessimism dominates discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet the idea that the time is not ripe for peace implies that some more auspicious moment will arise – at some future unspecified date. In reality, continuing on the well-trodden path of irredeemable despair simply postpones peace indefinitely and promises interminable ferment. The contours of the only equitable settlement are well known. Whether the main actors seize the chance is primarily a question of political will.
The curious history of the Middle East is of both war and peace breaking out when least expected. When Sadat visited Jerusalem in 1977, another round of Egyptian-Israeli hostilities was widely anticipated. Few supposed that the sworn enemies Israel and the PLO could agree the Oslo Accord in 1993.
The deadlock can be broken again today. In a new Fabian paper, ‘How peace broke out in the Middle East: a short history of the future’, Tony Klug traces how an imagined but plausible series of unilateral gestures builds a potent momentum for peace.