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The PRIMER Blog

Solution: Implies common agreement on the problem and …

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.

May 20, 2009

The following headlines have made the printed pages of newspapers and internet sites around the world:

Netanyahu Pressured from All Sides on '2-State Solution.'

Will Obama Try to Force Arab Two-State Plan on Israel?

Fatah says yes to the Two-state solution

Former PM Blair indicates 2-state solution is the only way forward

These represent but a few of the thousands of headlines and follow up stories that have made their way to the readers' eyes these past 12 days. Of course almost every Western country has indicated Israel must move forward toward the formation of another Arab state on its borders. The Arab world is generally supportive of the idea and the enemies of Israel understand it is a great political leverage tool to be used against Israel-for the moment. So why now is there a rush, again, for creating yet another Arab state? Political expediency is the correct answer! This is not a new idea. What, if anything, is new? The Arab governments, many EU leaders and enemies of Israel and the USA believe with an Obama in The White House, Israel can be forced to "make a deal" thus satisfying most of the parties-with the exception of Israel. This is the endgame for "the solution".

Since 1948 and actually for several decades before this date, multiple "solutions" have been offered and ultimately rejected. All of these solutions are based upon faulty thinking and poor assumptions regarding all concerned parties and thus have no chance for a workable out come.

Solutions require a problem or problems exist and that the problem(s) has (have) been properly identified. Solutions are based upon assumptions: all participating parties want a viable outcome that can be compatibly shared one with the other; all participating parties agree what the desired outcome looks like thus giving a target to reach; value systems of participants are compatible; compromise by all parties is required.

Only individuals directly impacted by the situation are the primary players. In this case, it is Israelis and Palestinians. It is necessary to say to both sides that there are three choices before them: you can have a compliant solution, an imposed solution or no solution at all. Each of the three outcomes requires "conditions of support"-those conditions that ensure the stated outcomes are given the best opportunity for success.

How to begin

Begin anew-no one is beholding to any previous concepts, words or documents. Identify only that which all parties can agree-do not get "caught up" with history, blame, whine or condemnation-focus only upon what you can commonly agree upon-thus no preconditions exist. This frees those doing the bargaining i.e., negotiating, to put their "proverbial cards on the table."

Step One: To start, each side should declare if it wants peace. If no, ask is there anything we can agree upon that is common to both sides' interests? If no, cease discussion-do not waste anybody's time, resources or energy and stop "fooling yourselves and the international community." If yes to either of the previous two questions each side must define what "peace means" and what it looks like on the ground. If areas of agreement exist, again specificity of description is imperative. Both sides ultimately must agree on what peace or common interests look like on a daily basis. Avoid getting into boundaries, social, economic or political interactions-focus solely upon the definition of peace. If this is accomplished, precede to Step Two.

Step Two: From the general definition/agreement you have regarding "peace," each side identifies what it is willing to give and to do that directly supports the definition. Avoid history, blaming and remain focused upon this job. Each side presents its "willing support behaviors list." Now, declare what is common among the two lists-you have the basis for an initial agreement.

Step Three: Together establish a timeline and actual implementation of the support behaviors. When requisite, identify timeline(s) and declare the duration of the support behavior before it is agreed that each side has met this benchmark. Decide at what point each side has fulfilled its obligations to demonstrate you truly want peace, as previously defined.

Step Four: Now that you have demonstrated the ability to have actions consistent with words aka integrity, trust can begin to be developed. Begin the identification process for components that are observable and quantifiable-share with one another. Again, create consensus before moving to Step five.

A final word

So far all we hear are imposed upon solutions. The word "solutions" really means externally manipulated political decisions forced upon participating entities. The parties imposing the "solution" ignore the facts and are therefore more concerned with a political outcome that is going to best benefit them. Nothing new, the world has been turning on this axis since the creation of human beings. Furthermore, these same political agents ignore the fact that both sides of an issue must agree what the problem is and they must operate within the same value system-otherwise the only possibility is for an imposed solution to be implemented. Given that the latter is not true, today, for Israel and the "Palestinian Arabs", an imposed solution decided upon by only the two participating sides has any chance for short term success aka "cold peace." The international community needs to back away; it is the reason this "conflict" has endured. You have all been reinforcing the incorrect behaviors and actions. Let us tell the truth once and for all.



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