Eager to clear my already cluttered desk and feign organizational competence, I submitted to my residential adviser my roommate agreement form that had been sitting on my desk for the last two weeks.
The form, which roommates are made to fill out at the beginning of each year, is an attempt to preemptively facilitate conversation between roommates about the situations and decisions which make living in a dormitory the fun that it is. What do we do if one person wants to study and the other wants to watch television, how many nights can a “guest” stay before things get weird, and so on. The bilateral nature of the agreement form and what it represents is integral to its success.
Both roommates must sign it. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.
Meanwhile, later this month, the Palestinian Authority will approach the United Nations General Assembly with a unilateral declaration of independence. A majority of countries are expected to vote in favor of recognition of a Palestinian state.
This state would be based on pre-1967 borders and would leave Israel only nine miles wide at its narrowest point and in an insecure and indefensible position.
This unilateral declaration of independence will not lead to peace. At best, the unilateral declaration of independence can serve only to further exacerbate the tension that plagues Israeli-Palestinian relations and isolates Israel in the international community. At worst, an armed Palestinian state in its current form could lead to nothing short of a third Intifada and widespread violence across the region.
Real peace necessitates direct negotiations between partners with mutual respect and recognition. This has been proven by successful peace treaties between Israel and Egypt since 1978, and Israel and Jordan since 1994, both the product of direct negotiations.
The Palestinian unilateral declaration is nothing more than an exercise in international diplomatic chicanery aimed at delegitimizing Israel, the only stable democracy in the Middle East.
Unquestionably, Palestinians deserve a state, security and proper representation. Yet the way Palestinian leadership has chosen to go about their mission puts all these provisions in jeopardy. Whether we are talking about a one- or two-state solution, dialogue is necessary. That much should be clear.
Just think about it. The essence of any productive relationship or resolution must be communication. If my roommate and I each turn in our own roommate agreement forms, it doesn’t work.
From the Camp David accords in 2000 to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent attempts at negotiation, the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly turned Israel away at the prospect of direct negotiations.
Now, the PA seeks to gain international recognition while an extremist terrorist group, Hamas, is included in their government. This is why the United States has made clear they will veto the Palestinian statehood proposition when it reaches the UN Security Council.
If PA President Mahmoud Abbas was serious about peace, the same way Israel is, he and the rest of Palestinian leadership would approach the negotiating table. That’s the only way issues of borders, security and refugees will be resolved.
Intuitively, any steps taken unilaterally, by either side, can do nothing to assuage the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The current status quo in the Middle East is undeniably unsustainable. Nevertheless, a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence promises to derail any potential peace process. Real peace means real negotiations with real partners. The unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood is not the answer.
I look forward to the day when there will be both Israeli and Palestinian signatures on one piece of paper, the only possibility for ensuring real peace.