Gershon Baskin believes that the state of Palestine will exist and that it will be created next to Israel. The main question is in what context it will be established.
There is no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict other than “two states for two peoples.” Any other proposal guarantees the continuation of the conflict and the end of the Zionist enterprise, the State of Israel.
There are those on the Left who think that the two-state solution is no longer viable. They are suggesting that the Palestinian people be deprived of the stage of normal national development and denied the ability to take responsibility for their own future. These do-gooders and dreamers are ready to deny Palestinians the same rights that all other nation-states have (including Israel) to a territorial dimension on which they can express their culture, heritage, language and visions for their future as a people. For the most part, these people are anti-Israeli and are actively working for Israel’s destruction.
Those on the Right who think Israel can continue to hold on to the West Bank under full occupation are damning it to become an apartheid state that will be rejected and boycotted by the international community. It will cease to be the place where anyone with an appreciation for human rights and dignity will be able to live. These people are working for Israel’s destruction in the name of Zionism, but in reality they are much more like the Zealots of Masada who are leading the Jewish people and the country to collective national suicide.
Then there are the dreamers and fools who think that we can reinvent the Jordanian and Egyptian options. This option died when Yitzhak Shamir rejected Shimon Peres’s London initiative. Even then, there was little chance that a real Jordanian option ever existed. These people are simply out of touch with reality, and if some of them were not in high positions they could simply be ignored.
WITH BARACK OBAMA in the White House new realities and new possibilities have the chance of emerging. The will of the international community is no longer in the grip of an American veto. The US is no longer hostage to domestic Israeli politics. Obama is interested in working in concert with the international community to resolve the conflict through the only possible solution – the two states for two peoples formula.
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, who is organizing a conference against the two-state solution, may think that there are alternatives, but she too will have to recognize that the issue has already been decided. The entire international community has decided that there must be a Palestinian state established next to Israel. It is no longer possible to prevent this development. The international community has also accepted that the size of the state must be 22 percent of the land between the river and the sea. This is no longer a negotiable issue. The exact borders need to be determined, either through negotiations or by international decisions.
It is also a given that Jerusalem will be the capital of the State of Israel and the state of Palestine, with Israeli Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty and Palestinian Jerusalem under Palestinian sovereignty (including the Old City respectively). The international community has also accepted the principle that the Palestinian refugees should return to the state of Palestine, not to Israel.
On November 15, 1988 Yasser Arafat declared independence for the state of Palestine. “The Palestine National Council, in the name of God, and in the name of the Palestinian Arab people, hereby proclaims the establishment of the state of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalem.” One hundred and four countries immediately recognized the state of Palestine (more than recognized Israel at that time). The important countries of Europe, the United States and other world powers did not, but times have changed and today those countries, led by the US, believe that the state of Palestine must be created next to Israel and it must be done in the coming years.
ACCORDING TO INTERNATIONAL law, the recognition of a new state is an act that only states and governments may grant or withhold. The UN does not have authority to recognize a state. It may, however; admit a new state to its membership. Paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the UN Charter states that it “is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.”
Palestine holds observer status in the UN, but it could become a full member in the following way: President Mahmoud Abbas would submit an application to the secretary-general and a formal declaration stating that it accepts the obligations under the UN Charter. The application would be considered first by the Security Council. On May 11, 2009 the Security Council already issued the following statement: “The council reiterates its call for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders.”
Any recommendation from the Security Council must receive the affirmative votes of nine of the 15 members of the council, provided that none of its five permanent members has voted against the application. If the Security Council recommends admission, the recommendation is then presented to the General Assembly. A two-thirds majority vote is necessary for admission of a new state, and membership becomes effective on the date the resolution for admission is adopted.
WHEN THE UN accepts the membership of the state of Palestine, Israel’s occupation of the territories becomes the occupation of a sovereign state which is a member in the UN by another member state. At that point, Israel would be acting in direct violation to the UN Charter and the Security Council would be morally and legally justified to enact Chapter 7 of the charter, enabling the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to Palestine.
The state of Palestine will exist. It will be created next to Israel. The main question is in what context it will be established. Israel can cooperate with the international community and work as a partner in the creation, or it can continue to reject and refuse to recognize the inevitability of its creation. The decision is in the hands of the government and the people of Israel.
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.