Countries that are unable or unwilling to resolve conflict
find themselves isolated today from the international community.
a result of a profound change in international relations.
history, wars were the engine of change. Today, war is perceived as archaic,
futile and immoral. At the basis of those changes lies the democratization
process in the world. When political leaders were alone in forming international
politics, war was an attractive option, as it was perceived to strengthen their
country’s strength and hold on power.
Today, after the information and
technological revolution, the voice of the people, the world over, is a powerful
component in shaping international relations. It seems that in most societies,
not only Western democracies, people are opposed to war, as it destroys
prosperity in an era of a globalized economy.
A war economy is an offside
economy – look at the streets of Tehran. Most young people prefer to study
together rather than to fight each other. When it comes to war and peace, the
Middle East is perceived by the international community as the tilting point for
international stability. The world – East-West, North-South – is not ready to go
along with a massive tinderbox in the region. It intends, under American
leadership, to diffuse this time bomb. Middle Eastern volatility and instability
is perceived to be a function of the Syria crisis, the Iranian nuclear ambition,
and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Syria, even under the brutal
dictator Bashar Assad, had to give in to the international community’s demands
on dismantling its chemical weapons arsenals. Assad was forced by an
international consensus orchestrated with skillful diplomacy by Barack Obama.
The region and the world are safer today due to collective diplomacy. Iran, too,
is faced by an international consensus, as expressed by the rigorous sanctions
and the coordination of the P5+1, to put an end to its military nuclear
ambitions. An important first step was taken last month in Geneva by freezing
the nuclear program in return for a partial and reversible lifting of sanctions.
Even the ayatollah regime understands that it is unable to offer any economic
future to the Iranian people without complying with international norms;
therefore in 2014 a permanent agreement is very likely. The international
consensus on nonproliferation of nonconventional weapon has became effective,
since the relevant diplomatic activity is led by the United States, in close
coordination with London, Paris, Berlin and to some degree Moscow and
On resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we face also a
set of accepted international norms, and a broad consensus, especially in the
Western world. These norms are shared, not only by the big powers, but by great
segments of international public opinion. They constitute basic attitudes to the
resolution of the conflict between Palestinians and us: • No more war – the
international community will invest much effort to prevent deterioration into a
violent regional conflict, emerging from an unsolved historical conflict. Too
many extremist and fundamentalist organizations are awaiting this moment of
glory to thrive on bloodshed when conflict resolution fails. Palestinians will
not achieve their state by force; neither will Israel achieve security by might.
This conflict will have to be resolved by diplomacy, bilateral, trilateral or
• No to terrorism – the greatest international plague is
international terror, with its prolific agents throughout the Middle East, with
extremist religious belief against Western infidels.
through Hamas to al-Qaida, all abusing the lives of young people with their
clout in the region, based on violence.
The days are over in which the
international community showed tolerance to so-called “freedom fighters”; it
sees them today as a destructive, even strategic, threat. In the resolution of
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution forces must be disarmed and
politically weakened. Peace is the victory of the moderates.
Self-determination of people and nations – this has a globally accepted norm
since the end of colonization. The whole world supports, categorically, the
creation of a Palestinian state that determines its destiny by itself and not by
• No occupation – territorial conquests are passé in
modern international relations because of the right of self-determination and as
there is no value anymore in controlling foreign lands for the sake of security
or control of natural resources. Neo-colonialism is rejected by the whole
international community and therefore there is wall-to-wall objection to Israeli
settlements. Of the whole world, only the Israeli right-wing parties support
• Security, like diplomacy, has acquired a collective
nature. From NATO to UN forces as well as the American-led coalition twice in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the strongest power in the world cannot gain security
on its own. President Obama was brave enough to admit it when turning to
Vladimir Putin on Syria and to the P5+1 in Iran. Security cooperation will
become part of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
more rejection on a religious, ethnic or racial basis. Internationally, the Arab
world will not be able to afford to reject the legitimacy of Israel as the
homeland of the Jewish people.
• Humanitarian values of equality, mutual
respect and dignity have been upgraded in importance in a world of greater
individual empowerment and democratization. This was expressed in a powerful way
in the global tribute to Nelson Mandela and what he stood for.
values will have to replace hate, disrespect of the different and policies of
superiority in the process of Israeli-Palestinian conflict
These fundamental international norms stand at the basis of
the new American peace policy in the Middle East. The United States under Obama
serves first and foremost the interests of Washington, but takes into account
the internationally respected values out of a mature sense of interdependence
and a general desire by the American leader to solve conflict by peaceful
With this mindset and strategic outlook, John Kerry and his
excellent peace team have already broken all frequent-flyer records to
Ben-Gurion Airport. They gave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President
Mahmoud Abbas and their teams the opportunity in the past four months to make
real progress in resolving the core issues for permanent status – borders,
settlements, Jerusalem, security and refugees. The two leaders were too
reluctant and suspicious to make the necessary progress.
administration, Israel’s greatest ally, a supporter of an independent
Palestinian state, has recently come to the conclusion that while it cannot
impose a solution, it must encourage the parties to make decisions on the core
issues of conflict.
The world will not stand anymore for the Middle East
contradicting core international values, not on nonconventional weapons, and not
on unresolved conflict, that endanger international security.
the Americans have begun this month to suggest their own bridging proposals to
the leaders of Israel and Palestine, starting with security after the creation
of a Palestinian state. John Kerry is expected to raise other bridging proposals
on all permanent-status issues in the beginning of 2014. The proposals will not
come as a take it or leave it package, but rather as terms of reference for
negotiating a framework for permanent-status agreement by April 2014, at the
According to Washington, such a permanent agreement would
probably be based on the following principles, taking the interests of both
sides into account: • An independent Palestinian state will be established, with
a gradual withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank, the borders based on the 1967
lines, with mutual land swaps, with a high degree of parallelism.
settlement blocs will be annexed to sovereign Israel that will encompass 75
percent of Israeli settlers. The rest of the settlers will be reallocated into
the settlement blocs.
• There will be full diplomatic relations between
the states of Israel and Palestine, with a mutual recognition of Israel as the
homeland of the Jewish people and Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian
• Palestine will be a demilitarized state (including the Gaza
Strip). Israel will have a temporary military presence on the Jordan River, the
border crossings will be under joint responsibility, and there will be an
American intelligence role to prevent terror. The American- Israeli security
alliance will be upgraded due to the Israeli withdrawal from the West
• Jerusalem will be a shared capital of two states, and remain one
city, with special arrangements protecting the links of the various communities
to their holy sites.
• The right of return for Palestinian refugees will
be to the independent state of Palestine, and not applied to sovereign Israel.
There will be a compensation mechanism for Palestinian refugees.
major economic package will be offered to the new Palestinian state by the
international community, for the creation of open state institutions and for the
Palestinian economy, in cooperation with Israel and Jordan.
permanent status, all Arabs countries will establish full diplomatic relations
with Israel and will normalize relations with it.
• The European Union
will offer Israel and Palestine an upgraded economic status and package, the
highest for non-EU countries.
President Obama said lately that the
outcomes of an eventual Israeli-Palestinian agreement is well known. Indeed this
is clear not only to the American president, but to every grown-up person who is
in his right mind, except for those blinded by religious, nationalist
Given the international consensus on these issues – this,
sooner or later, will be the framework of the resolution of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is time, in the beginning of 2014, for
Netanyahu and Abbas to make the decision based on America bridging
They can make the historically necessary, difficult and right
compromise leading to peace with the best security possible.
also free to follow petty domestic political consideration and avoid a deal. No
one can and will force them. In the latter and more likely case, they will
endanger the stability and well being of their citizens, and risk isolating them
from the international community, as pariah states.
They can follow
Nelson Mandela’s example, and lead their people to reconciliation and to a
valuable respected place in the family of nations; or follow the example of
Mandela South African predecessors of the Apartheid regime, and isolate their
countries into international isolation and boycott.
The beginning of 2014
is decision time.
The writer is honorary president of the Peres Center
for Peace and served as Israel’s chief negotiator for the Oslo
Barbara Hurwitz edited this column.