stronger medicine is required.
"The Oslo principle of a staged,
five-year interim phase isn't sa-
cred " he declared, "especially as
,--we , ' re now at a point where, in-
stead of building confidence, the
process is aggravating despair."
The solution he suggested (al-
though he wouldn't say whether
it's being entertained in high
places) is to start intensive talks
on the tough issues of Jerusalem,
the settlements, and the refugees
to reach the final settlement as
-quickly as possible.
The timing of such a departure
, seems inauspicious. Will Is-
raelis, who view the interim pe-
riod as a test of Palestinian
performance, permit a leap to the
end of the process precisely when
t appears to be failing?
"You can't let the public lead a
political initiative," Mr. Pundik
held. "The choice is either to fol-
low a long, gradual process and
fight the erosion in support each
time it hits a snag, or to go for an
accelerated one and carry the
public along with you."
The psychological answer of
separation, which is appealing to
both sides, can be translated into
political terms far more quickly.
"Why not save ourselves five
more years of friction when ulti-
ately we'll have to separate any-
way?" Mr. Pundik reasoned. 'We
can reach separation faster. If it
works, we can have open borders,
free trade, and all the rest. If it
doesn't, we can always build a
wall and shut the other side out."
Mr. Pundik called this ap-
proach a "calculated risk." But
other analysts are wary of speed
as a strategy. "When you're stuck
,:n a traffic jam and the opposite
lane looks clear, you may have
the urge to jump the divider and
take the open road," said Arab af-
fairs specialist Dan Schueftan of
Haifa University, who said he is,
politically, in the "extreme cen-
ter." "It feels great to get out of
the tie-up, until you're hit by a
\ In the current balance of pow-
3r, he explained, Israel is actual-
ly the truck, and the other side
may be driving small cars. "But
even if you're hit by a compact,
you'll still sustain damage."
Mr. Schueftan traced the gen-
esis of the Oslo approach to Is-
raeli impatience in the first
place. "The powers that be were
unwilling to hold out until the
13 alestinians were ripe for a sin-
cere compromise," he believed.
"So they took what they could get.
But there's still a huge gap be-
tween the minimum that Israel
requires and the minimum the
Palestinians are willing to give."
Though prepared to make far-
reaching concessions, provided
the other side keeps.to its com-
mitments, Mr. Schueftan was
juin about pursuing the Oslo
process even cautiously. And pur-
suing it in haste, he warned, will
prove disastrous. 0
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