To help bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Washington needs to stop thinking about redrawing the map for a while, and start following the money. It must bring an end to the activities of outside malefactors who fan the flames of this conflict by supporting violent Palestinian radical groups like Hamas.
One good place to start would be Qatar, which provides Hamas a range of support, from financial backing to political cover to an external headquarters in Doha. Similarly, Turkey must be held to account for its ongoing material and political support to Hamas, as well as sheltering at least one known Hamas operative.
More important, Iran must be held to account for its weapons smuggling, weapons training, Islamist indoctrination and the financing of terrorism. This benefits Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but also Hezbollah in Lebanon.
From there, Washington will need to help forge a unified Palestinian government – one that excludes the role of violent groups – that is financially transparent to the people. For too long, the Palestinian Authority has been mired in corruption. Billions of dollars in financial aid have been squandered over the years as Palestinian leaders profited from international largesse. Anger over corruption led to an electoral victory for Hamas in 2006. This cannot happen again.
Gaza is now set to receive billions of dollars in international aid to help rebuild after the war. This will need to be monitored carefully, to ensure that funds are not diverted – as they have been in recent years – to buy rockets, build commando tunnels or prepare for the next round of conflict.
Following the money may not sound like the path to diplomatic success, but it is crucial to creating an environment that is conducive to peace. It will both help the Palestinians to craft a forward-looking vision for their own state, while simultaneously alleviating long-standing Israeli security concerns.
Only then will it be easier to push both sides to get back to the cartographical haggling that has dominated U.S.-led peacemaking in the Middle East for the better part of three decades.
Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.