Remarks by Gershon Baskin at the opening session of the “Middle East 2020: Is the Comprehensive Settlement Possible?” conference held the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan (December 20-22, 2009).
There is no bilateral solution but the conflict is resolvable. 2010 a critical year – ripe for agreement, ripe for an explosion – only Israeli-Arab and not Iran.There is no solution except a two states for two people solution which recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and all of its citizens just as Palestine will be the nation state of the Palestinian people and all of its citizens.
There is no bilateral process, it has failed until now and there is no reason to believe that it will now suddenly succeed. There is a zero chance of a bilateral negotiated agreement between the parties. Simply coming back to the negotiating table will not bring about an agreement. At the same time, the parameters of the solution are well known and there is international consensus on the agreement.
There is a willingness of the parties to make the concessions necessary for peace if what is needed is guaranteed not on a bilateral basis. Israelis and Palestinians can not provide each other with what is needed. The guarantees and assurances must be provided by the international
The parties should no longer have the right of veto an agreement. It is not just what the parties want anymore. The resolution of the conflict is an international security and strategic interest. The international community must deal seriously with the threats and obstacles put on the table by the parties and then there must be international solutions.
We must also recognize and support the positive steps on the ground taken by the Palestinian Authority. We must also put pressure on Israel to change is failing current policy on Gaza.
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.