"No," says Robert Serry, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, speaking recently at the Hebrew University's Truman Institute. "I don't know of any alternatives," he added. Nor does he seem interested in exploring other possibilities.
Myopic thinking is at the root of the problem. Without a "Plan B," critical thinking is frozen, locked into a disaster model, regardless of the consequences.
This is exactly what happened in planning the Oslo Accords. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor, when he asked one of the architects of the Oslo Accords why the issue of Palestinian refugees was not brought up in negotiations, he was told that this would have prevented an agreement; form was more important than substance.
Unwillingness to think about "Plan B," lack of critical thinking, led to disasters following Israeli withdrawals from the Gaza Strip and south Lebanon.
Without thinking strategically, Israeli politicians and the international community tried to fix tactical breakdowns, pouring vast sums into PA coffers and hoping that reason would prevail. Instead, it encouraged irresponsibility and dependency.
Serry's role is not as innovator, but as program facilitator – even as success remains distant. He likes to point to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as a leader whose projects, like building new towns and infrastructure, offer hope. But Fayyad does not possess political power, organizational backing, or popularity.
PA militias, trained and equipped by the US, are unreliable and remain untested in confrontation with terrorist groups. It is doubtful that they would be willing, or able, to stand up to Hamas. Most experts predict that as the PA continues to fail, these militias will join terrorist groups and attack Israelis.
Hence, unwillingness to think about alternatives leads to a "do-or-die" situation, which prevents critical thinking, and dooms realistic prospects that lay beyond the confines of conventional approaches.
As an "all-or-nothing" deal, the "two-state" plan as it is proposed must conform to parameters which prevent compromise, and encourage incitement and violence. Ironically, the more rigidly one conceives of this plan, the more it becomes impossible, and frustrating. The reason is that every demand is interlinked; eliminating or adjusting one undermines the rest.
That is why talking about a "Plan B" is so critical to the "peace process” and why the role of the UN and agencies like UNRWA actually retard reconciliation and perpetuate the conflict.
The UN Coordinator's Office can play a constructive role in getting people together to think about alternatives, rather than preventing discussion.
The author is a writer and journalist living in Israel