Reaching a separate agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, one that does not include other regional actors, is neither achievable nor desirable. The incremental approach advocated by the Obama administration and many others presupposes that there is time to engage in such a lengthy process. However, Marwan Muasher states, “if we do not affect a two-state solution today, I’m afraid that we are going to have to talk about other alternatives which are not desirable, namely a one state solution.”
The regional approach would provide a regional safety net for both the Israelis and Palestinians. The Israelis would receive normalized relations with the Arab and Muslim world and security guarantees from the Arab world, in particular in regards to Hamas and Hezbollah. The Palestinians would be able to compromise on critical final status issues, such as the status of East Jerusalem and refugees, without being demonized by the Arab world for making concessions.
Two principal regional players are the Saudis and Syrians. The Saudis can provide the necessary cover for the Palestinians when they compromise in the course of bilateral negotiations and the Syrians, if they commit to ending support for Hamas and Hezbollah in exchange for the Golan Heights, can ensure Israeli security. Ultimately, a peace process that ignores such a regional approach is “chasing a mirage,” Muasher concluded.