Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert

An imaginary announcement

Israeli cabinet statement, March 25, 2007 regarding the Arab summit in Riyadh:

`The government of Israel convened this morning in regular session. The prime minister presented to the members of the government a new Israeli peace initiative – `The Ten Points Plan.`

`The government debated the initiative and then voted overwhelmingly in favor, with only the Yisrael Beitenu faction voting against the decision. Minister Lieberman submitted his resignation following the vote. His resignation will come into effect in 48 hours.

`The Government of Israel (GOI) calls for direct face-to-face negotiations with the governments of the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Lebanon in order to bring an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

`The GOI asserts that a full peace agreement with diplomatic and normal relations between all states in the region is the ultimate goal of the Israeli peace initiative.

`Israel recognizes that the convening of direct bilateral negotiations for peace constitutes explicit recognition of Israel`s right to exist in peace with secure and recognize boundaries. Israel calls on the Palestinian Authority to undertake the utmost efforts to ensure that all acts of aggression will cease once the negotiations have ensued. On its part, Israel will continue to adhere to the cease-fire in Gaza and will extend the cease-fire to the West Bank.

`The GOI recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to have an independent sovereign state of their own living side-by-side with Israel in peace and in mutual security.

`While recognizing the need for mutually-agreed adjustment to the boundaries between Israel and the future State of Palestine, Israel recognizes that the basis for negotiations over boundaries is the Green Line armistice agreement of 1949.

`While Israel rejects the resettlement of Palestinian refugees within the territory of the State of Israel, the GOI recognizes that the refugee issue is one of the most important and sensitive issues for both sides and is committed to negotiating in good faith with the Palestinian leadership to find the most just and agreed-upon solution possible that will put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian refugees, wherever they are.

`The GOI is committed to resolving all of the other outstanding permanent status issues with the Palestinians including the future of Jerusalem, borders, water and economic issues, and mutual security arrangements.

The GOI is prepared to return to negotiations on all fronts based on understanding reached in previous rounds of negotiations.

`Israel has no conflicts with the other states and peoples in the region and calls upon all of the leaders of those states to assist in the process of reaching agreements toward full peace in the region, including supporting constructive ideas and steps regarding the sensitive issues of Jerusalem and of refugees.

`The GOI welcomes the assistance of the Quartet and others in helping to bring about a speedy and successful conclusion to negotiations. The GOI recognizes that substantial financial assistance will be required to provide for security and stability in the region, and calls upon the international community to actively engage in the process of rebuilding the Palestinian economy and the infrastructure of the West Bank and Gaza.`

THE ABOVE does not have to be an imaginary report. Everything written above is acceptable to almost all of the ministers of the Israeli government.

While Yisrael Beitenu would probably quit the government, Ehud Olmert could rest assured that Meretz and the Arab parties would support the plan even without joining the coalition. Olmert`s popularity would take a sudden surge, but this is not the reason why he should adopt this 10-point plan.

Every prime minister promises his people that he will do the utmost to ensure the stability and security. Like most other prime ministers, Olmert has done almost nothing to fulfill this promise. According to all forecasts and analyses, he does not have much time left in office to even try.

But the urgency facing Olmert is not solely one of Israeli domestic politics. The clock is ticking rapidly on the very viability of the two-state solution.

The correct reading of the preceding sentence should be that the clock is rapidly running out on the viability and the feasibility of the Zionist enterprise. Without fulfilling the two-state solution, there will be no Jewish State of Israel.

The ticking clock is not solely because of the physical realities on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza, which impede the possibility of creating a Palestinian state there. The main factor accelerating the clock is the rapid movement of Palestinian intellectuals away from the idea of a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. It was the Palestinian intellectuals who led their national movement to support this solution from the 1970s onward, and it is today the Palestinian intellectuals who are the driving force toward adoption of the South Africa model for Palestine.

Should the Palestinian masses reject the solution of two states in favor of one democratic state from the river to the sea, it is only a matter of time before the entire international community comes to their support, and then the end of the Zionist dream is in sight. If the Palestinian masses adopt the one-state democratic solution, Israel cannot win that battle. And although an unimaginable amount of blood would be spilled, in the end Israel would no longer be the state of the Jewish people.

Those Israeli nationalists and their supporters abroad – Jews and non-Jews alike, who reject peace with our neighbors – are nothing less that suicide bombers aiming to destroy Israel. This may seem to some to be a gross exaggeration, but it is not. Those who reject the risks of making peace are guaranteeing the demise of Israel by their blindness and failure to understand that time is not in our favor.

Arguing about the virtues of recognizing the new Palestinian government is a waste of time. Wasting time now is criminal. Now is the time for an Israeli peace initiative.

Olmert, kadima! – forward. Your time is running out.

Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin is one of the most recognizable names in the Middle East Peace process. His dedication to creating a culture of peace and environmental awareness, coupled with his impeccable integrity, has earned him the trust of the leaders of all sides of the century old conflict. Few people have such far-reaching and positive impacts on promoting peace, security, prosperity and bi-national relationships.
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.
Gershon Baskin

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About Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin is one of the most recognizable names in the Middle East Peace process. His dedication to creating a culture of peace and environmental awareness, coupled with his impeccable integrity, has earned him the trust of the leaders of all sides of the century old conflict. Few people have such far-reaching and positive impacts on promoting peace, security, prosperity and bi-national relationships. Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.