Gershon Baskin calls Palestinians and Israelis who support real peace with Palestinians to wake up now and to begin to prepare the strategy for failure, that we hope will never have to be used. Failure in negotiations may happen. Violence after failure should not be the answer. It is time to get smart.
While I remain somewhat optimistic that it is still possible to reach a negotiated agreement for the two state solution, the possibility of failure of the negotiations is very real. Failure of the process without a clear and well thought out detailed plan for a strategy of ending the Israeli occupation, establishing the Palestinian state next to Israel and making peace with Israel will probably result in a new round of violence which is likely to be much more horrific than what we have seen until now.
Failed negotiations may very well mean the final demise of the two-state solution and there is no other real solution to this conflict. Talks of a one state solution is a lie. It is no solution. It turns the conflict back into an existential conflict of `us or them` rather than `us and them` as the two state solutions is defined. The so called one state solution denies the basic right of both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people to self determination. It denies both people the right to a nation state of their own – a political framework that gives expression to their cultures, heritage national aspirations, cultural and national identities.
If the peace process fails we must be ready to launch a strategy for ending the occupation, bringing about the creation of the Palestinian state next to Israel, making peace between the two states – all of this without negotiations.
A new strategy would be based on unilateral actions mainly taking place by the Palestinian. Functionally the primary impetus of the strategy is the unilateral assertion of Palestinian sovereignty in every non-violent way possible. The fundamental basis of the strategy must be a well disciplined national project led by the political leadership. Non-violent, direct confrontation with the occupation is the key, leadership and disciplines are the tools.
The first stage of the strategy is the call of the leadership announcing that from this moment forth the Palestinian state exists. The borders of the State of Palestine are the borders of June 4, 1967 and East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. The State of Palestine is under occupation, and the Palestinian people will force Israel to end the occupation through a non-violent direct confrontation campaign led by the Palestinian leadership. The leadership would call to the international community to provide full membership in all international forums, including the UN and all of its agencies. The Palestinian leadership will call on all foreign governments to announce that their representative offices and consulates to the Palestinian Authority will now be Embassies to the State of Palestine. The foreign Ambassadors should be called on to submit their letters to accreditation to the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas. Likewise, President Abbas should call on all of the countries in the world to recognize the PLO and other Palestine interest offices around the world as Embassies of the State of Palestine.
Following the Presidential decrees, Palestinians would then begin to implement a strategy for imposing its sovereignty. There will be high prices to pay and there will be many violent confrontations with Israel, but it is essential that the violence be one sided. If Palestinians will respond to Israeli violence with violence, the strategy will surely fail. Palestinians must conquer the higher moral ground to succeed. There must be absolutely no violence of any kind coming from the Palestinian side – not even the throwing of stones! The only violence seen on television throughout the world would be Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians.
One of the immediate short term goals of the strategy is for the entire leadership of the Palestinian people to be arrested by Israel. Ten of thousands and if possible hundreds of thousands of Palestinians must fill the Israeli prisons s that there will be no room to hold them.
A detailed plan of direct confrontation must be developed. The following will provide some ideas of the kind of strategy needed:
With East Jerusalem as the declared capital of Palestine, President Abbas, the President of Palestine calls on Palestinians all over Palestine to go with him to pray in al Aqsa mosque. The march to al Aqsa would be led by the President and the leadership and the first confrontation with the Israelis would be by the President. Israelis who support the Palestinians should be called on to meet them at the checkpoints to march together to Jerusalem.
Mayors, parliament members, heads of NGO’s, doctors, teachers and others should lead people to remove the road blocks that prevent free movement and access from the villages to the main roads. People should remove road blocks with their bare hands and with bulldozers. The roads of Palestine belong to the people of Palestine and they will no longer cooperate with the policies of occupation.
The government of Palestine should declare that all of the settlers living in the Palestinian state are now citizens of the state of Palestine. They must adhere to Palestine laws. They must apply to Palestinian driver’s license and new license plates for their vehicles. Unarmed Palestinian check points should be set up at junctions near the settlements to issue traffic tickets to settlers for driving in Palestine without a valid licenses.
Each new day a press conference should be held by the leadership to announce the direct confrontation activities for the day. Symbolic and real acts must take place everyday. The Government of Palestine should issue maps of the State of Palestine with copies of the Declaration of Independence. On another day, the Government of Palestine should issue a draft Treaty of Peace with the State of Israel including all of the permanent status issues and signed by the President of Palestine, leaving a space for the signature of the Israeli Prime Minister. Palestinians should constantly declare that their goal is to have friendly, peaceful and full diplomatic relations with all neighbors including the State of Israel.
The Government should announce the ground breaking ceremonies for the establishment of at least three new cities in the West Bank. The Government should identify the areas for establishing those new cities and should convene ground breaking ceremonies, making sure to invite international diplomats to the ceremonies. The ground breaking ceremonies, will of course take place in areas under Israel’s direct control. Appropriate political and symbolic names should be selected for the cities such as Independence City, Freedom City, City of Hope, City of Knowledge, etc.
Palestinians should boycott all Israeli goods until Israel recognizes the Palestinian state. The Government of Palestine should issue a list of goods that should be focused on. The principle is to deny the right of Israelis to profit from the occupation. Hurt them in the pocket.
The Palestinian prisoners carry a huge moral weight amongst Palestinians. Using this strategy their numbers will grow considerably. At the right time a prisoners hunger strike should be called for. This will create great solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners and many Palestinians not yet in prison should join in. The Government of Palestine should call on friends of Palestine and peace around the world to hold their own symbolic hunger strikes in front of the Embassies of Israel in their capital cities.
The Government of Palestine should call to Palestinian Diaspora to immigrate to the new state. The doors of the Palestinian state are open to all Palestinians. Even if physically these new immigrants cannot yet come to Palestine, the Government should issue Palestinian passports to all of those wishing to immigrate to the new state.
Many more ideas can be proposed. This article is serving as a call to Palestinians and to Israelis who support real peace with Palestinians to wake up now and to begin to prepare the strategy for failure, that we hope will never have to be used. Failure in negotiations may happen. Violence after failure should not be the answer. It is time to get smart.
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.