Israel and the Palestinians will soon begin fateful negotiations for a "final status" agreement to resolve the core issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. for Israel, these negotiations will determine the size and character of the state (whether it remains a Jewish state or becomes a binational state). for the Palestinians, these negotiations will determine whether they will establish their own independent state and finally resolve the palestinian refugee problem. The goal of final status negotiations is, therefore, to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all, through formulas that meet the basic requirements of both sides.
U.S. involvement will be crucial to the successful conclusion of final status talks and the peaceful establishment of a Palestinian state—whether as an honest broker during negotiations, as monitor of the Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty and its security arrangements, as facilitator in finding a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, or as the strategic ally of Israel, helping to safeguard Israel's security in case the agreement collapses and the Palestinian war against Israel resumes.
Ze'ev Schiff, dean of Israel's military correspondents, is defense editor of the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. He is an associate of The Washington Institute and author of Peace with Security: Israel's Minimal Security Requirements in Negotiations with Syria (The Washington Institute, April 1993).