MADRID/WASHINGTON, DC – As revolutionary change sweeps across the Arab world, it is easy to think that now is not the time to push for peace between Israel and Palestine. Until the dust settles on the new Middle East, the old roadmaps seem dated, and conventional wisdom holds that progress toward a peace agreement in the face of regional upheaval is wishful thinking.
But the opposite is true. Even with so many failed efforts in the past, there is a clear window of opportunity for the United States and Israel to urgently push for a lasting settlement.
Everyone needs to start thinking differently about the Middle East. The international community’s old approach was to prioritize stability over democracy and pursue Israeli-Arab peace on a completely separate diplomatic track. This policy proved to be a failure – placing stability ahead of democracy brought neither, and isolated peace efforts went nowhere.
If the US and other world powers want to make headway on their three key objectives – stability, political reform, and peace – they need to understand how they are linked and pursue all three simultaneously and holistically. Picking and choosing which challenges to care about only increases the risk that they will become intractable problems instead.