The following is my ideas for the Making of a US-led International Peace Plan for Israel and Palestine
- There is no chance at this time of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian bilateral negotiated agreement
- Without a political framework (meaning a plan with a time-table) to end the Israeli occupation, no incremental progress will bring the desired results and will inevitably lead to another explosion
- Economic peace is a myth, there is no money in the private sector around the world to invest, and without a significant change on the ground no sane person will invest in Palestine.
- Palestinian security force building, training and deployment will not succeed without the political framework, especially as confrontations between the PA and Hamas increase
- The best way (and perhaps the only real way) of removing Hamas from power in Gaza is in the same way it got into power – through the ballot box
- Holding Palestinian elections without the political framework may produce worse results than the last elections
- Releasing Marwan Barghouthi in the coming months would be a good thing (and a deal to release Jonathan Pollard in exchange could work)
There are four issues which can/should be removed from the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating arena:
- Palestinian statehood,
- The size of the Palestinian state (based on 22% – 78% formula),
- Jerusalem as the capitals of both states,
- The return of Palestinian refugees to the Palestinian state.
- (These issues are in almost total agreement in the international community therefore, the Israelis and the Palestinians should no longer hold veto power over them).
The US has the power and the ability to take steps that would completely change the rules of the situation
Bold Presidential initiatives should be taken early during the administration and not late and certainly not be left for the second term
The Makings of a Plan – focus: changing the rules – getting beyond bilateral negotiations
1. The Palestinian state exists – President Abbas submits a request for Membership to the United Nations. With the knowledge that the US will not use its veto, the request will move from the Security Council to the General Assembly where it will get at least the necessary 2/3 support.
2. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is no longer the occupation of undefined territories, but now the occupation of a UN member state over another UN member state. The Security Council would then be fully authorized to use all of its tools, including Chapter VII, to design the mechanism for bringing about Israeli withdrawal to either agreed upon borders or to borders that the international community will design.
3. There would be a need for a new UN Security Council Resolution (replacing 242 as the point of reference) to recognize the new situation and to provide the tools to move forward. The implementation mechanism of the Resolution could be the empowerment of the Quartet which represents the will of the international community.
4. Once this plan is put into place and moving forward, the Provisional Government of the State of Palestinian would set a date for new elections. The elections will be for the Government (President and Parliament) of the State of Palestine. In order to participate in those elections, all parties have to recognize the State and as such respect the Charter of the United Nations (thereby removing the international demands that Hamas refuses to adhere to). Hamas would either recognize the State (and thereby change) or be removed from relevance by the Palestinian people who want the state to be recognized by the entire world. This is the political framework for ending the occupation that has the power to remove Hamas from power through the ballot box.
5. Israel will most certainly oppose, but now there is a plan on the ground around which a new and revitalized peace camp could emerge and increased political confrontation between the US and the Government of Israel will almost certainly bring down this current government and lead to new elections which will be run on the basis of a real plan and chance for peace.
6. The Quartet could/should request that the Government of Israel and the Government of Palestine submit plans for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution (22% land area for Palestine, Jerusalem modalities, withdrawal time tables, etc.). At the same time the Quartet will develop its own plans for providing the guarantees that will provide sufficient assurances for each side’s real threat perceptions and real threats – possible militarization of the Palestinian state, terrorism, control of external borders, airspace, electro-magnetic spheres, continuous settlement growth, irredentism (on both sides), etc. Those plans would be based to a large extent on the effective deployment of international forces – police, civilian and military and the US will have to play a central role (understanding that no US soldiers will be deployed).
This may sound crazy and unworkable, but there is nothing that is more workable. If the President doesn’t want to repeat all of what has been done, tried and failed, it is time for some real new thinking and acting “out of the box”.
There are some wild cards which have to be considered as well that could remake the rules but without any control at all. All of these are very possible. These are some of them:
- An Israeli invasion into Gaza aimed at regime change –most of Bibi’s advisors believe that this is possible and should be done
- Renewed Israeli targeted killings against Hamas and PIJ leaders in Gaza which could bring about renewed terror attacks inside of Israel
- Significant increase of settler violence against Palestinian civilians without any effective Israeli military/police response
- Significant increase of settler violence against Palestinian Authority personnel
- An Israel attack against Iran (without the US green light).
- Abu Mazen suddenly dying
The world is expecting something big from this administration. The word “change” has to be made into something real. Old tactics and strategies will simply not work. This conflict is too small to continue to endanger the security and the stability of the world and its economy as well. President Obama can do this – perhaps no one else could, but he can.
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.