Saeb Erekat, the veteran and colorful Palestinian negotiator, told a good joke at today's Brookings event on Annapolis. It was his way of explaining why we need new negotiations after nearly two decades of failed diplomacy. I'm going to paraphrase it here:
An Israeli and a Palestinian are watching a Western. In the movie, a cowboy is riding bareback on a particularly wild horse. The Israeli, being aggressive, says to the Palestinian, "I'll bet you 10 shekels he falls." The Palestinian, being impulsive, replies immediately, "I'll bet you he doesn't."
The cowboy falls, and the Palestinian forks over 10 shekels. The Israeli, feeling that famous Israeli guilt, refuses them. Then he admits, "I've seen this movie before."
The Palestinian replies, "So have I. But I thought he would learn from his mistake."
Erekat stressed that it's up to Israelis and Palestinians themselves to make a deal work, and he believes it can happen in as little as three months if both parties are willing to make the big decisions. But, as former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger told FP, it's probably going to take a heck of a lot of involvement from U.S. President George W. Bush as well. Find out why in this week's Seven Questions.