In Middle East, Public Diplomacy Is the Wrong Approach

Israel-U.S. misunderstanding underscores the risk.

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Disagreements are common, but generally they have not been made as bitingly public. Nothing positive comes out of public negotiations or public controversy. If issues are to be resolved, it will happen only through private channels and private dialogue. What can be retrieved? Above all, it is unwise to elevate Jerusalem as an issue in the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis because the question of Jerusalem is so emotional for both parties. Each of them would find it impossible to find a compromise if attempts occurred in public and without an agreement on the other issues. The status of Jerusalem should be raised only at the very end of a negotiation.

There is an underlying strategic imbalance between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The Palestinians can lose many wars and still survive. The Israelis can lose only one. This must be kept in mind by both the United States and Israel as they strive to work through their differences.

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