From Conflict to Coexistence: The Path to Peace in the Middle East

There’s more to the story, but it’s time to end the dark Gaza war The long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict has produced many famous battles. The “fan affair” of 1827 saw a French consul-general in Algiers hit by the Dey of Algiers with a fan. This led to a 132-year French occupation of Algeria.The wars between Israel and Palestine have filled many volumes, but the current Gaza war is special because of its unique chance to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. With the US administration’s support, a path exists to break the current cycle of violence and ultimately reach a historic settlement based on a two-state solution.Now, many issues and obstacles stand in the way, but an opportunity to break through the impasse is there, with the Gaza war providing a catalyst. While short-term goals for this war, like stopping rocket fire from Gaza into Israel or halting Israeli airstrikes, can present massive problems, the much bigger context is crucial.Amid the intense fighting, it’s vital to focus on a sustainable and comprehensive peace settlement that encompasses the broader situation. Like the 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt that followed the October 1973 war, the current Gaza war holds the potential to be the final conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. A well-structured and comprehensive settlement could address the broader Arab-Israeli conflict, creating massive change across the Middle East and providing a model of peaceful international collaboration.After 60 days of fighting, the violence has left more than 20,000 Palestinians dead and over 45,000 wounded. The sheer scale of the destruction, with more than 50% of buildings in Gaza damaged or leveled, is shocking. But this tragic situation contains opportunities for transformative change, if all sides take the initiative to move forward.Decades of violence have left deep scars, but these can and must be healed for real peace to take hold. Despite the huge challenges, the hardest compromises can be reached. A resolute push toward a comprehensive peace settlement should be the priority.Ideally, the two sides should work together, jointly addressing the grave humanitarian needs in Gaza and paving the way for a political solution. Signs suggest, however, that a number of critical questions are unresolved and major obstacles remain. Based on the roots of the current issues, it’s possible they could command a critical spot in shaping the future peace environment.Initiatives to bring peace are often jeopardized by the actions of extremist factions. While movement forward is feasible, so too is stagnation or backward progress. But one thing is clear: a comprehensive settlement would fulfill the national aspirations for both sides, allowing both Israel and Palestine to secure strong and lasting benefits from peace. Achieving this outcome should be the common goal for both sides, and key catalyst for a radical new era of partnership in the Middle East. In spite of the dark times, it’s possible for Israelis and Palestinians to find a path to ending their long-running war.