Welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu. Your recent statements indicating your intention to be a true partner to the Palestinians in advancing peace through negotiations is what the international community wants to hear. But more than wanting to hear positive statements on your intentions to make peace, the international community want to see progress on the ground.
The international community is quite united on this issue, more than you remember from the last time you sat in the PM’s chair, and it’s not only those anti-Israeli Europeans. US President Barack Obama also wants to see your commitment to making peace with the Palestinians and beware, Obama is truly interested in a multilateral foreign policy. The Quartet – the invention of the Bush administration to provide the US with a veto vis-à-vis Israel, will now act in a very different way. The US is determined to work in full cooperation with the other Quartet members – the EU, the UN and Russia. The US will even encourage the other partners to take initiatives – in coordination with each other, so that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process can be resumed, and this time, completed.
The international community is not interested in another long, drawn out Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Israel might be in love with peace processes and negotiations, but this time the world wants to see results, not more negotiations. After 18 years of peace processes since the Madrid Conference, there are some issues which, in the eyes of the international community, are no longer under negotiation – they are clear and must be expressed already in peace agreements.
In the eyes of almost every nation, the question of Palestinian statehood, sovereignty and independence is no longer a negotiating issue. Likewise, in the opinion of almost all of the nations of the world, Jerusalem should be the capital of both states – the exact formula of how to do this must be worked out. In Israel’s favor, most nations do not expect it to accept and absorb any significant number of Palestinian refugees.
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY has lost its patience with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. There will be less tolerance than ever before for Israeli policies that counter the prospects for peace. Continued settlement building and expansion will expose this country, for the first time, to the real possibility of sanctions.
The international community, particularly the friends of Israel, have a large number of “tools” in their diplomatic toolbox which could be used to persuade the new government to make progress toward peace. Not all of those tools come down to the huge amount of financial aid that the country gets from the US. That aid is pretty much protected by Congress, but there are other actions that the international community, including the US could take to pressure Israel.
One small example – imagine if the US and Europe did not threaten to boycott the Durban II summit against racism being held in Geneva at the end of April. The initial draft resolutions branded Israel as an occupying state that carries out racist policies. Following the boycott threat, the document contains no reference to Israel, the Middle East or defamation of religion.
Israel enjoys the protection of an international umbrella in many international forums, not only provided by the US. Israel also enjoys access to many international funds, such as the EU Seventh Framework Program which enables it to compete on grants and contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros.
It also has benefited from the US veto in the Security Council, which has been used 11 times to prevent anti-Israeli resolutions from being passed. If a direct confrontation develops between the Netanyahu government and the international community, we should not be surprised if a new Security Council resolution appears looking something like the following:
Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East, emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every state in the area can live in security, emphasizing further that all member states in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the charter, the Security Council affirms that the fulfillment of charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles: Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in June 1967; the establishment of the State of Palestine on the basis of the June 4, 1967 borders, in the areas of the West Bank and Gaza including east Jerusalem; termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force; the governments of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine will enter into immediate negotiations between them on the exact borders between them. The guiding principle in the determination of the borders is that the State of Palestine will be composed of 22 percent of the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and the remaining 78% of the territory will be the State of Israel.
This settlement will establish Palestine as the Palestinian homeland, just as Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people. Israel must immediately demonstrate support for the creation of a prosperous and successful Palestinian state by removing unauthorized outposts and ending settlement expansion. The government of Palestine must demonstrate that its state will create opportunity for all its citizens and govern justly and dismantle the infrastructure of terror. It must show that a Palestinian state will accept its responsibility and have the capability to be a source of stability and peace for its own citizens, for the people of Israel and for the whole region.
The Security Council recognizes the city of Jerusalem as the capitals of both states and calls on the governments of the two states to negotiate the modalities for application of such in the city.
The Security Council recognizes the importance of the holy sites in Jerusalem to all three religions and proposes that they be placed under an international guardianship guaranteeing free and open access to all people who respect the sanctity of the sites.
The Security Council empowers the Quartet to work with the governments of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine to conclude negotiations on the permanent borders of the two states within one year, including the modalities for the city of Jerusalem. The Quartet will report back to the Security Council on progress of those negotiations on a quarterly basis.
In accordance with Chapter VI and Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council announces its readiness to deploy peacekeeping troops to the State of Palestine to assist and to facilitate the withdrawal of Israeli security forces from the territories of the State of Palestine.
The Security Council calls on the General Assembly to act in discharge of its functions under Article 4 of the Charter and rule 125 of its rules of procedure, to: 1. Decide that the State of Palestine is a peace-loving state which accepts the obligations contained in the charter and is able and willing to carry out those obligations; 2. Decide to admit the State of Palestine to membership in the United Nations.
Maybe far-fetched, but not beyond imagination.
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.
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