Rashid Khalidi in The New York Times:
WHAT should Barack Obama, who is to visit Israel next Wednesday for the first time in his presidency, do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? First, he must abandon the stale conventional wisdom offered by the New York-Washington foreign-policy establishment, which clings to the crumbling remnants of a so-called peace process that, in the 34 years since the Camp David accords, has actually helped make peace less attainable than ever.
When the most recent iteration of this process began with high hopes at the Madrid peace conference in 1991, which led to the Oslo accords two years later, there were 200,000 Israelis illegally settled in the occupied Palestinian territories: today, there are more than twice as many. During this time, under four successive presidents, the United States, purportedly acting as an honest broker, did nothing to prevent Israel from gradually gobbling up the very land the two-state solution was to be based on. Until 1991 most Palestinians, although under Israeli military occupation, could nonetheless travel freely. Today, an entire generation of Palestinians has never been allowed to visit Jerusalem, enter Israel or cross between the West Bank and Gaza. This ghettoization of the Palestinians, along with the unrest of the second intifada of 2000-5 and the construction of seemingly permanent settlements and of an apartheid-style wall, are the tragic fruits of the so-called peace process the United States has led. The “peace process” has consisted of indulging Israeli intransigence over Palestine in exchange for foreign-policy goals unrelated to the advancement of peace and Palestinian freedom. In the late 1970s this involved the strategic cold war prize of moving Egypt from the Soviet column to the American column.