Ends and Means

Our FP colleague Marc Lynch notes that Obama’s principled stand on Israeli settlement expansion and a two-state solution may be paying off in other ways, most notably in an easing in checkpoints, etc., on the West Bank. This is encouraging news and I don’t want to sound like a killjoy, but it is important to ...

Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Stephen M. Walt
By , a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
584403_090625_settlement2.jpg
584403_090625_settlement2.jpg
ALFE MENASHE, WEST BANK - JUNE 08: Standing below a billowing Israeli flag, a construction worker relaxes in the evening breeze after a day's labor on a new housing project in the Jewish settlement of Alfe Menashe on June 8, 2009 in the West Bank. US President Barack Obama?s Middle East envoy, George J. Mitchell, began his latest round of talks in the region echoing Washington's demand for "immediate" peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

Our FP colleague Marc Lynch notes that Obama’s principled stand on Israeli settlement expansion and a two-state solution may be paying off in other ways, most notably in an easing in checkpoints, etc., on the West Bank. This is encouraging news and I don’t want to sound like a killjoy, but it is important to keep the big picture in mind.

After all, as Marc notes, at the same time that Israel is easing restrictions on the West Bank, they've apparently approved the construction of another 240 homes at an outpost near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. One hand giveth, the other hand taketh away.

Our FP colleague Marc Lynch notes that Obama’s principled stand on Israeli settlement expansion and a two-state solution may be paying off in other ways, most notably in an easing in checkpoints, etc., on the West Bank. This is encouraging news and I don’t want to sound like a killjoy, but it is important to keep the big picture in mind.

After all, as Marc notes, at the same time that Israel is easing restrictions on the West Bank, they’ve apparently approved the construction of another 240 homes at an outpost near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. One hand giveth, the other hand taketh away.

At this point, freezing settlement expansion, lifting checkpoints, building up more effective and professional Palestinian security forces, reforming Fatah, trying to get Hamas to recognize Israel, etc., are all just means to an end; they are not ends in themselves. As Obama appears to understand, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be put to rest until there are two states for two peoples, and the Palestinian state cannot be some sort of permanently crippled Bantustan akin to the open-air prison that now exists in Gaza. Until Israelis, Palestinians, and their supporters elsewhere get to that finish line, in short, we haven’t really solved anything. 

Getty Images 

Stephen M. Walt is a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University. Twitter: @stephenwalt

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