Bankrupt. Abbas (L) and Netanyahu
Photo: GPO

A new paradigm needed

Op-ed: Effective peace approach will not seek to impose ‘end of conflict’ notion on Palestinians

A decade has passed since then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak exposed the fact that we have no partner for ending the conflict. Today, Palestinian leaders openly admit that they have no intention of selling what Israel wishes to buy – recognition of our existence here as a Jewish state.


The current “peace process” has gone bankrupt. It continues to make pretenses of being alive just because many parties have a greater interest in seeing the process continue than in seeing peace. Moreover, there are no “core issues,” but rather, one core issue: The existence or elimination of the State of Israel as a Jewish nation-state in the Land of Israel. This is in fact the bone of contention.


In respect to the issue of borders, security, and even Jerusalem, a general outline for a solution had already been secured during the Barak and Olmert eras.


The main problem is the refugee issue. The Palestinian demand for “return” is not an objective, but rather, a means. More than this demand reflects concern for the refugees, it constitutes a mechanism that would enable the Palestinians to fan the flames of the conflict in the future. The notion of an “agreed upon” solution to the refugee issue is vague. What precisely is agreed upon? And what if there is no agreement?


This vagueness is meant to enable the Palestinians to claim in the future that Israel failed to adhere to its obligations on this front, thereby reigniting the conflict. This option annuls the “irreversibility” inherent in a Palestinian renunciation of territories to remain within the State of Israel, thereby protecting Palestinian leaders against charges of betraying sanctified values.


The obstacle to peace may be the linkage between “peace,” whose implications are operative and applicable, and the “end of the conflict,” whose implications are religious and mythical and require the renunciation of sanctified values. We therefore need a new paradigm that distinguishes between the two aspects. Below is one possible outline for such paradigm:


  • The starting point for an agreement is the assumption that the Palestinians may prefer “peace” over maintaining the conflict if this does not require them to make irreversible concessions pertaining to sanctified values (mostly ownership over the entire Land of Israel and control of Temple Mount.)


  • The notion of “peace” will be separated from the notion of “an end to the conflict.” The parties will produce peaceful patterns for co-existence and obligate to a limited-time agreement (for example, 30 years) without committing or making pretenses to put an end to the conflict.


  • The parties will not be required to make irreversible concessions on demands pertaining to sanctified values, including the demand for a return of refugees. However, these demands will be “frozen” for the duration of the contract. During this period, the parties will not be allowed to undertake any action or make any demand aimed at realizing these aspirations.


  • The fundamental principles that details of the agreement will be derived from will be as follows: Guaranteeing the State of Israel’s existence and its being the Jewish people’s nation-state on the one hand, and Palestinian independence, sovereignty, economic prosperity and welfare on the other hand.


  • A demilitarized Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital will be established in most of the 1967 areas. Isolated settlements shall be dismantled and their residents will be relocated to the Jordan Rift Valley, the large settlement blocs, or Israel – with international aid. The Palestinian state will enjoy generous access to all of Israel’s seaports.


  • The Palestinian will accept, for the duration of the contract, Israel’s being the Jewish people’s nation-state, refrain from war and hostilities, and completely avoid hostile acts against Israel on the global diplomatic front. During this period, Palestinian refugees would be able to settle in the new Palestinian state, should it wish to absorb them. They would not be able to settle in the State of Israel, and the Palestinian state will not be a party to any demand to settle them there. Refugees who so wish will be compensated by an international fund to be set up to that end.


  • The dismantlement of settlements and IDF withdrawals will be undertaken gradually, and in line with the level of commitment and ability shown by the Palestinian state in guaranteeing security and refraining from hostile acts on the international stage.


  • The agreement will be reinforced with strict guarantees: Israel will have the right to act militarily should it face hostilities, should Palestine arm itself in violation of the deal, should a foreign army enter Palestine, or should the Palestinian state collapse or be taken over by an outside element such as Iran. Meanwhile, Israel will be guaranteed a US and Quartet veto against anti-Israel decisions should it be forced to act.


  • A system of incentives and sanctions will be utilized: Economic and political assistance to the new state will grow the more it minimizes hate education and venomous sermons at the mosques, and vice versa.


Such agreement would enable the leaders of both sides to bring peace to the peoples without making concessions which they cannot accept. Should the sides manage their lives wisely, over time the “bargains” in the “freezer” (such as the right to demand a refugee return) would lose their appeal, and the agreement would be extended and turn into a permanent deal de facto.


And what if the Palestinians violate the agreement? There isn’t enough room here to respond fully, yet readers who scrutinize the proposed agreement will conclude that the risks faced by Israel are not much graver than the ones we face in any case. However, such deal has a chance to finally put an “end” to the conflict.


Benny Levy is the founder of chairman of the Shivah – Being a Free Nation in our Land non-profit organization



פרסום ראשון: 01.06.11, 00:40
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