Alan Dershowitz: Israel Should Propose Settlement Freeze to Restart Peace Talks

In Wall Street Journal op-ed, prominent American-Jewish Israel supporter says Netanyahu should take advantage of his broad coalition to renew negotiations with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should propose a conditional freeze on settlement building in the West Bank in order to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, Harvard law professor and prominent Israel supporter Alan Dershowitz wrote in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

"Now that Israel has a broad and secure national unity government, the time is ripe for that government to make a bold peace offer to the Palestinian Authority," Dershowitz wrote.

Acknowledging the failure of a 10-month freeze on settlement construction in 2009, Dershowitz suggested that Israel offer to freeze all building in West Bank settlements "as soon as the Palestinian Authority sits down at the bargaining table, and the freeze will continue as long as the talks continue in good faith."

Such a move would leave the Palestinian side with "no further excuse for refusing the Israeli offer to try to resolve the conflict," while also testing the Israeli government's commitment, as the latter "would no longer have the excuse that any freeze would risk toppling a fragile coalition that relies on right-wingers."

In the piece, Dershowitz said he had recently proposed the idea to a "high-ranking Israeli official," who, he said, reacted positively but stressed the difficulty of imposing an absolute freeze on areas where Israeli families live.

"Both sides say they want peace," Dershowitz wrote. "I have repeatedly heard the view that 'everyone' knows what a pragmatic, compromise resolution will look like." Thus, he said, taking the controversial settlement freeze issue out of the equation could remove one of the most significant obstacles to real negotiations between the sides.

Dershowitz has been one of Israel's most outspoken defenders in the United States, frequently arguing in favor of Israeli government policies in public appearances and debates.

In his 2005 book The Case for Peace, Dershowitz argued in support of the two-state solution, including a Palestinian state in Gaza and most of the West Bank, and divided sovereignty over greater Jerusalem.