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Meretz unveils four-point diplomatic plan
By BEN HARTMAN
12/25/2012
Gal-On: Israel must immediately recognize a Palestinian state as a national interest, Meretz is "last anchor peace camp."
 
Israel must immediately recognize a Palestinian state as a national interest and work with the Palestinians to find a replacement for the Oslo Accords, Meretz Party head Zehava Gal-On said on Tuesday.

Gal-On was speaking at a press conference she held in Tel Aviv to present the party’s four-point diplomatic platform.

Under the plan, Israel and the Palestinians would carry out negotiations with the Palestinian Authority to work out agreements on security, economics, water and other issues, and would find a temporary replacement for the Oslo Accords until negotiations on a final-status agreement would begin. In addition, Israel would agree to freeze settlement construction, release Palestinian prisoners, and remove checkpoints in the West Bank.

According to Meretz, the goal would be to reach an end to the conflict and a settlement of claims on both sides within four years.

In addition, the party plan calls for the founding of a “regional Quartet,” made up of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, inspired by the international Quartet of the US, the the EU, the UN and Russia. The Quartet would handle negotiations between the two sides and would work along with delegates from the Arab League to examine implementing the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

During the press conference, Gal- On presented Meretz as the “last anchor of the peace camp,” and said the Israeli public that “wants peace and believes we can reach a solution” are the alternative to “the policies of [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, which stand to bring us to a third intifada.”

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She added that the Labor party led by Shelly Yacimovich is no longer a left-wing party, rather a centrist party that is only thinking about how to join Netanyahu’s government.

Gal-On also said there is “no partner for peace in Israel,” and that a goverment led by Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman – which would come into power with a heavily rightwing list – poses a danger to the two-state solution.

Ilan Baruch, a former Israeli diplomat who resigned from the Foreign Ministry in 2011 saying he can no longer represent the country, said at the press conference that the policies of the Netanyahu government are strengthening the status of Hamas on the Palestinian street.

“The future of Hamas and Fatah depend on our leadership, and to our dismay, the Israeli government and those who stand to join it are greatly strengthening those Palestinian voices saying that all of Palestine belongs to us and there is no place for Israel,” said Baruch.

The Meretz plan also calls for a peace settlement to be based upon the 1967 lines, with mutual territorial swaps, east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state and settlement of the Palestinian refugee issue.

The plan also calls for Israel to reach out to Syria once the civil war ends and a stable government takes over – with Jerusalem required to be ready to return the Golan Heights to Damascus as part of a peace deal.

In addition, the plan says that Israel must continue to “maintain cooperation” with the Gaza Strip for the sake of the economy and welfare of its residents, regardless of who rules the coastal territory.
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