Jonah, I have to say that I am with Rich on this one. As things now stand, the ‘road map’ is going nowhere. Arafat, quite clearly, cannot be trusted to deliver what he promises, while (and, no, this is not an attempt to find some sort of moral equivalence between the two men) Sharon’s refusal to do much, if anything, about either the settlements or the route being taken by the security fence also suggests that he has either no real interest in this process or that he has given up on it. Under these circumstances, it seems to me that the Geneva proposals merit serious attention by Washington. The current stalemate is simply not in American interests, and that, in and of itself, is reason for the administration to press for a workable resolution to this problem.
One way, perhaps, to encourage the Israeli government to look at this question again might be for the US (or NATO?) to explicitly extend a real security guarantee to Israel in the aftermath of any deal, perhaps even membership of NATO. As for the Palestinians, the offer of an extremely generous aid program (specifically linked to continuing ‘good behavior’ in the wake of peace) could be persuasive to a sufficiently large percentage of the population to make a deal feasible. Certainly it should help convince their leadership. From what we know of Arafat, he understands the value of a dollar or two, while it must be in US interests not only to secure peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, but to ensure that any Palestinian state has a real chance of prosperity.
If it’s in the US interests to rebuild a nation in Iraq, it’s no less so in ‘Palestine’.