If the world wants this conflict to end it has to think much harder about what options exist that could deliver a solid and durable majority of Palestinians not only to accept a two-state solution, but who will also crack down on the inevitable minority that will reject that solution and want to continue an armed struggle against Israel. We have to think about deal sweetening for the Palestinians if we are serious about peace.
There is no guarantee that this approach will work, and it will almost certainly not work quickly. There are substantive religious and theological objections among many Palestinians about ceding territory to non-Muslims. At a time when Islamic identification and militancy is rising across the region, it may not be possible for Palestinian moderates to deliver a lasting peace even though they sincerely want it. Secular, nationalist Palestinian opposition is also strong and deeply rooted in emotional and ideological concepts not easily compromised or forgotten.
It may be that for these reasons, real peace is out of reach for now. In that case, the rational course might be to go for a lasting truce in which neither side gives up ultimate claims but accepts a pragmatic, medium term ‘cease fire in place.’ If carefully designed, that kind of practical arrangement could buy time while the search for a conclusive peace treaty continued. Such an arrangement would not be unique. Russia and Japan, for example, have not yet signed a treaty ending World War Two, and while their territorial dispute is a real one, the two countries manage to cooperate and they aren’t shooting at one another. In the dispute between Taiwan and mainland China, the United States has promoted pragmatic arrangements while postponing the final status talks. A long term truce of this kind would enable Palestinians and Israelis to go about their lives in security and reduce tensions in a region that has plenty of other issues to worry about.