Zionist Union MKs Isaac Herzog (L) and Hilik Bar (C) shake hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as they attend a meeting in Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel should recognize a Palestinian state first and then negotiate borders, which should be based on the 1949 armistice lines with land swaps to account for settlement blocs, according to a new diplomatic outline MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) presented Monday.
Bar presented what he called “a solid foundation for a final status agreement and end of all claims between us and the Palestinians” to some 450 participants in a conference of the Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which Bar leads. The gathering included MKs mostly from the Zionist Union, a smattering from Meretz and MK Oren Hazan (Likud).
In the outline Bar distributed to attendees, Bar wrote that the plan “protects Israel’s vital security interests, keeps Jerusalem united, solves the Palestinian refugee problem outside of Israel’s borders, leaves the majority of settlers in their homes, strengthens Israel’s position in the world, and gives Israel a boost in its unflinching war on terrorism.”
Bar’s plan first calls for Israel to recognize a Palestinian state in the UN, but says that borders, the refugee issue, Jerusalem, security arrangements, etc.
must be negotiated between the two sides. The recognition and approval of “Palestine” joining UN institutions will be conditioned on it not undermining the need to negotiate. In addition, the Palestinians would recognize two nation states.
The plan also provides that, when there is a Palestinian state, Jews may securely live in it as residents or citizens, thus creating an option for Israelis not to be expelled from their homes.
“If there can be a Jewish community in London and Berlin, then there can be a Jewish community in Palestine,” Bar wrote.
In addition, Palestinian citizens would have “privileged access” to places of worship, tourism, academia and trade in Israel, and vice-versa.
The MK also called for Israel to officially respond to the Arab Peace Initiative - not necessarily to agree to it, but to stop ignoring it. This would go handin- hand with conducting a regional dialogue in conjunction with bilateral relations between Israel and Arab states.
The outline also calls to improve quality of life in Gaza, which Bar posits would return the Palestinian Authority to the Strip to replace Hamas, form a municipal body to represent residents of east Jerusalem, and maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Bar called for better integration of Israeli-Arabs into Israeli society, including teaching young Israelis peace and coexistence, opening a bilingual university, and requiring Israeli Arabs to do civilian or IDF service after a permanent peace treaty is signed.
The outline also deals with Israel’s relations with Diaspora Jewry. It says the government should give world Jewry an “advisory status on issues of national importance and matters of foreign policy” and educate them in Hebrew, Jewish history, and Zionism.
The goal would be to strengthen their Jewish identity, while still promoting the Zionist idea of “the negation of the Diaspora” and encouraging them to move to Israel.
During the conference, Bar slammed those on the Right who reject a twostate solution, saying they will lead Israel to lose its Jewish majority and bring about the end of the Zionist project.
Of a binational state, Bar said “we will not let that happen; not on our watch; not if we have any say in the matter.”
“Today’s Right abandoned Zionism and nationalism when it attached itself, perversely, to the very extreme Left, such that they both favor and even actively advance the emergence of a binational state. An extreme, rightwing, messianic agenda has changed the face of today’s Right. It has turned the Zionist Right into a post-Zionist Right,” Bar stated.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) and MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) commended Bar for presenting the plan, saying that it is important that the two-state solution be part of the public discourse. However, they did not endorse it.
“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu prefers to bury these initiatives,” Herzog said, “turn them off, eliminate them, in order to continue to use fear-mongering slogans like there is no partner or no way to bring peace, and that we are only surviving here, while fearing death and destruction by our enemies. We must be on the side of those who take historic action, just as my friend Hilik Bar is doing this morning.”