When the Oslo process first began, the vision of peace which was negotiated over
most of 1993 was based on a paradigm of cooperation across boundaries that would
lead to a “win-win” deal for both Israel and Palestine.
agreement of 1995 actually created more than 25 joint cooperative bodies between
the two sides.
The initial thinking was that during the five-year interim
period cooperation across the borders would lead to the development of trust
which would facilitate the permanent-status negotiations where the parties would
confront the difficult issues such borders, Jerusalem and refugees. But as we
all know, the process failed, trust was not developed and the paradigm of
cooperation across borders was replaced with “us here and them there,” replete
with walls, fences and barbed wire.
But the framers of Oslo actually had
it right. Real Israeli-Palestinian peace can only be based on cross-border
cooperation with the free movement of people and goods across the borders of the
two states. Real peace cannot be based on walls and barbed wire. We can reach a
treaty with that separation basis, but it will not lead to real peace.
this small land between the river and the sea, where both peoples feel connected
to all parts of the land, the paradigm of peace must entail reaching a reality
of free movement and access throughout all of the land for all of the people
living here. That is a vision that can actually inspire people, unlike a land
divided by separation barriers.
The most fundamental element of any
Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, therefore, will be the establishment of
real security for all of the people living between the river and the sea. In
today’s reality we have very limited movement and access. Jews cannot enter the
Palestinian controlled areas without (Israeli-issued) permits and Palestinians
cannot enter Israel without (Israeli-issued) permits. In today’s reality all
Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are prohibited from entering Israel,
except those who have permits. In the paradigm of real peace, all Palestinians
should be permitted to enter Israel.
Likewise, all Israelis must be
permitted to enter Palestine. It is the spoilers who use violence whose movement
should be limited, not the masses of Israelis and Palestinians.
for the paradigm of free movement and access to come into being, the means for
achieving real security must begin now, even prior to reaching a
The mechanisms for ensuring real security
must be based on true security cooperation between the parties. No external or
international security presence will replace the security that the parties must
take direct responsibility for ensuring.
If this cannot be achieved, then
peace cannot be achieved.
Israel must stop its military incursions into
the Palestinian areas now. The Palestinians must be willing to act on
intelligence information provided by Israel regarding suspected terrorist
activities against Israel. Israel must be able to verify that the Palestinian
security forces have acted and that the Palestinian legal system has properly
investigated, and if warranted indicted, tried and incarcerated convicted
criminals who were planning to use violence against Israel.
Israel must take real action against violence perpetrated by groups of settlers
and individuals against Palestinians.
There is security cooperation and
coordination today between Israel and Palestine. The level of the cooperation
and coordination must be significantly upgraded so that we all know before there
is a peace treaty and further Israeli withdrawals whether the mechanisms for
providing security really work. If we leave it until after there is a treaty, it
may be too late.
In setting up the systems for movement and access I can
foresee a situation where people apply for permits online and have the ability
to even print them out on their home computers, or to have them sent to their
smartphones, like we all do today with boarding passes for
There will be security checks at the borders, but they will be
much more efficient than today. If millions of people can move around the world
through airports everyday with very high levels of security provided, Israelis
and Palestinians can also come up with systems that will enable rapid and
humiliation- free movement across their borders. We will return to the days when
Palestinian vehicles move across the borders as well.
goods from one side to the other will no longer have to go through the tedious
and costly back-to-back systems where goods are unloaded from Palestinian
trucks, checked for security, and then loaded onto waiting Israeli trucks. Goods
will move from door-to-door instead of from back-to-back. Today we have
Jordanian trucks which are cleared for security in the factory by Jordanian
security personnel and move across the Israeli border on their way to the port
of Haifa without be stopped for security checks (except for random spot
This will have to be the norm for movement across the Israeli-
Palestinian borders as well. In order for this vision to become a reality we
must transform our imagination of peace from the current separation paradigm of
walls and fences to a world of open borders and real people-to-people
interaction. We must initiate steps today that begin to develop that paradigm on
the ground now. This cannot be implemented overnight.
It will take time and we
will need a period of continued hard separation barriers while we continue to
negotiate and after we begin to implement future agreements. But we must begin
to develop the vision of real peace and to adjust our planning of the future
accordingly. In order for peace to provide security, security must provide
peace, and the people on both sides of the border must be partners in this
The author is co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center
for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the
initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad
Schalit. His new book Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel has been published
by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew and The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from
Hamas from The Toby Press.