Since the end of the Yom Kippur War, the main attempt at resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict has been the step-by-step approach initiated by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Enormous energy has been spent in Washington and in Israel on negotiating disengagement agreements with Egypt and with Syria, and on preparing for a new limited agreement with Egypt. But whether or not the current effort succeeds, we are reaching the end of this particular road. The time has come to look at the long term, to learn lessons from the obstacles the current method has met, and to resort to a new diplomatic strategy.
My own conviction is that it is time for a sweeping Israeli initiative aimed at a peace settlement. The United States will remain an indispensable participant in the effort. But instead of what is essentially an American policy groping to bring gradual peace to the parties, we now need a decisive effort by the party whose future existence and security are at stake, whose role in the Middle East has been the heart of the matter since 1948, and which finds itself on the defensive. For it is its destiny that is being shaped, and it has a vital interest both in remaining its own master and in reaching with its adversaries a settlement that cannot be seen as the result of an outside power's skill at exploiting temporary circumstances.
After 15 months of American efforts and after the successes of the Palestine Liberation Organization at Rabat and at the United Nations, the leaders of Israel have had to face two serious problems.
The first is the choice of a method toward a settlement. Here, there is a serious division on how to proceed. But there are also some important common features in their views. The first is a sense of dependence on Henry Kissinger, who is in a way the most important political personality of Israel. This dependence is accepted with hope and gratitude by some; it breeds
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