The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is back in the news cycle in the U.S., thanks to Obama's mention of the 1967 lines in his speech and his subsequent meeting with Netanyahu. As Stephen Hadley emphasized on the NewsHour Friday, Obama actually called for negotiated adjustments to the 1967 lines via land swaps, and if he had mentioned the land swaps first, his reference in the speech might not have been interpreted as such a big deal. Speaking later on the same program, David Brooks said that drawing "magic lines on a map" (I believe he used that phrase) would not solve a conflict whose roots are found in competing narratives, competing historical wounds, and so forth.
Brooks's remarks prompt a thought which I'm sure is not original (how many thoughts are?) but which I'm going to throw out anyway. Perhaps it has been a mistake to think in terms of 'solving' or 'resolving' the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; perhaps it would be better to think in terms of moving the conflict into a new phase, one that is less unjust, more stable, and more manageable. In this context the establishment of a Palestinian state with agreed-upon borders (or even 90 or 95 percent agreed-upon), and a Palestinian state which both recognizes Israel and is recognized by Israel, would be a major accomplishment, even if the issues of refugees and the status of Jerusalem remain unresolved.
Contrary to what many people seem to suppose, it is really not necessary to resolve all the outstanding issues, or even every last single territorial issue, in order to arrive at a mutually agreed-upon two-state arrangement. India and China still have disagreements about certain aspects of their border; so, I believe, do Greece and Macedonia; so do Thailand and Cambodia. Although the Thai-Cambodia border dispute recently has sparked some shooting and fatalities, most border disputes do not entail much or any violence. Many of them just simmer for years, causing some irritation in diplomatic relations and some inconvenience for those who live in or near the disputed areas, but not much else. There is no reason why Israel and a new Palestinian state have to agree on 100 percent of their border. Particularly difficult areas that can't be taken care of by land swaps can be labeled 'in dispute' and some kind of temporary jurisdictional arrangement can be put in place. Just as India and China disagree about five percent (or whatever the figure is) of their border, so Israel and the new Palestinian state could agree to disagree about five percent of their border. An understanding that there is nothing especially strange about such an outcome, coupled with a shift in thinking from 'resolving' the conflict to moving it into a new and less conflictual phase, might help in any event to restart a 'peace process' that appears to be very stalled at the moment.
P.s. As Jon Western argues, the "strategic time-frame" in the region is not on Israel's side, which should, one would think, be an impetus to re-starting negotiations.