It’s obvious — and has been for some time — what a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict would look like. Here’s Marko Hoare:
Paradoxically, however, the very intractability of the Palestinian conflict is matched by the obviousness of what the solution should be in the eyes of most reasonable people: firstly, two states based on Israel in its pre-1967 borders and a Palestine comprising the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, with any departure from these borders being based on entirely equitable territorial swaps; and secondly, a Palestinian abandonment of the right of return in favour of just compensation for refugees, matched by just compensation for the Jews expelled from Arab countries after 1948.
Everyone — or at least everyone sensible — would agree that any plausible settlement will look more or less like this.
Equally it’s obvious that the two sides aren’t going to agree to it by themselves. There’s too much hatred and mistrust to do so, and the populations on both sides can easily be swayed by rejectionist politicians. So the internetional community (i.e. the USA) would have to step in to impose a solution:
This being so, the international community should rescue Israel and the Palestinians from their current impasse by imposing a just peace of this kind upon them. An element of coercion is necessary as, without it, domestic opposition might make it politically difficult for the leadership of either side to accept such a compromise. Given the equal justice of both the Israeli and the Palestinian causes, to be acceptable to both the parties and to the international community, the coercion would have to be applied to both sides.
Less important than the actual compromise offered was the method of compulsion, involving a threat against both sides. […] In the case of Israel and the Palestinians, the international community should impose a just settlement by threatening to come down like a ton of bricks on whichever side rejects the settlement.
A possible punishment for a rejection by the Palestinians might be international recognition of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlements and support for its crushing of Palestinian resistance by any means necessary, coupled with military support against any retaliation from the Arab or Muslim world. Should the settlement be accepted by Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian leadership but rejected by Hamas, the Palestine Liberation Organisation could avert this punishment by joining with Israel to drive Hamas out of the Gaza Strip, after which the path to a settlement would be clear. Conversely, a possible punishment for a rejection by Israel might be a unilateral recognition of an independent Palestine in the proposed borders and punitive sanctions against Israel, coupled with international support for Palestinian efforts to drive the Israeli Defence Forces from the West Bank.
The important question is: will Obama see it this way?
Some reasons why he might: Obama is clever. Therefore he will probably agree with the analysis outlined above. He has also indicated that he wants foreign policy based on diplomacy and not conflict. In terms of his personal convictions, he would almost certainly prefer Israelis and Palestinians to be living in peace together instead of the present mess.
Against that, there’s the possiblity that Obama might feel the whole enterprise would not be likely to succeed (i.e. “Yes we can” was just meaningless campaign rhetoric), or that AIPAC and the Israel lobby might cause too much hassle for Obama which would detract from his domestic reforms. Against that, however, Obama might well be able to argue to AIPAC that he’s a very persuasive speaker and if AIPAC want a fight, Obama is quite capable of persuading the American public that Israel is wrong to kill and maim thousands of Palestinians.