Encountering Peace: Israeli-Palestinian peace is achievable
This agreement is possible. The concessions within are not losses but gains and both sides will be able to stand tall and declare peace and victory.
US President Obama with Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas, September 1, 2010. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed
Many of those who claim that a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty
putting an end to the conflict is not possible are the very people who do not
want it to happen. This includes those who say it’s too late, there are too many
Israelis living beyond the green line, or too many new settlement houses have
been built, and those who say there is no Palestinian partner.
there has been no partner for peace because the negotiations, even after 20
years of negotiating have not yet produced an agreement that is acceptable to
both parties and ends the claims on all of the eight core issues of the
conflict. But agreement is conceivable and after each side makes the concessions
which must be made they will be able to stand up proudly before their people and
declare “we got the best agreement possible and it is a victory for us!” Here it
is in short: 1. Palestinian statehood – this is already a fait accompli, clearly
in the interests of both sides – the territorial expression of our national
identity sealed by agreement, recognized by the international community,
accepted by the United Nations and fulfilling the principle laid down in UN
Resolution 181 from November 29, 1947 – the formal birth certificate of the two
states – the establishment of two states – one Jewish and one Arab on the land
known as Palestine/Israel.
2. The delineation of borders between the two
states – not based on the map of 1947 but on the armistice agreement of 1949,
the border line between the two states will divide the land with Palestine on 22
percent and Israel on 78%. The line will allow Israel to annex about 4% of the
West Bank enabling about 80% of the Israeli citizens in settlement blocs to
remain where there are.
Palestinians will get in exchange equal territory
from inside of Israel proper. They will be able to use those areas as
development zones and as compensation for land taken by Israeli
3. Jerusalem – Israel will have full sovereignty over all of
the parts of Jerusalem where Israelis live. Jewish Jerusalem will be united and
recognized by the whole world as Israel’s capital. Palestine will have full
sovereignty over all of the parts of Jerusalem where Palestinians live.
Palestinian Jerusalem will be united and recognized by the whole word as
Jerusalem will be like Siamese twins – connected at
the most sensitive points and therefore will remain an open city with free
Both parts of Jerusalem will share many aspects of
infrastructure and most importantly, both sides will be responsible to work
together to provide real security throughout the city. The Old City and holy
places will either work on the same demographic principles or will be managed by
agreement by others on behalf of both peoples. The Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif
compound will see the transformation of current realities into agreements with
the Muslim authorities in control on top of the Mount over the mosques there and
Jewish authorities in control of the Western Wall.
This arrangement can
hold at least until the Messiah comes, who can make changes then if the reality
allows for it. Hundreds of millions of Muslim pilgrims will be allowed to come
to complete their Haj pilgrimage which brings them to Mecca and Medina and
concludes in Al-Quds, Jerusalem.
4. Refugees – All Palestinians, always,
wherever they are will be able to become citizens of their independent sovereign
Lands added to Palestine within the territorial swaps can be used
for resettlement purposes enabling Palestine to say that there is a partial
return to lands from before 1948.
Israel, Palestine and the international
community all have an interest to give refugees a new beginning and therefore an
international donor effort will be made with generous Israeli participation that
will grant all refugees in need a chance for decent modern housing, education
and work. New cities like Modi’in can be constructed in the West Bank.
Palestinians with land deeds and businesses that were lost will be able to apply
for compensation for their losses to an international commission and Israel will
also generously participate in this fund.
An agreed-to symbolic number of
Palestinians will be able to apply for return to Israel proper (somewhere around
50,000 people) noting that they will be then living in the State of Israel,
under Israeli laws and sovereignty. Israel can call this a humanitarian gesture
of family reunification and Palestine can call it the implementation of the
right of return. Palestinian refugees will also have the possibility to apply
for citizenship in other countries that may offer such a possibility always
holding onto to the option of becoming a citizen of Palestine also and holding
5. The physical crossing between West Bank and Gaza – a
stretch of about 40 kilometers going through the sovereign State of Israel. The
best option, I believe, is the rail link offering services to carry passengers,
cars and cargo with one stop in Gaza and one in the West Bank. Other
possibilities include a bridge, road, tunnel, sunken road or combinations of the
above. I propose beginning to build it now, as soon as possible from the West
Bank towards Gaza and ending one kilometer short of Gaza. Gaza will be part of
the full agreement, but it will only be implemented when the regime in Gaza
agrees to all of the terms of the agreement.
6. Economic relations – I
believe the best option for Palestine will be an improved customs union which
ends all of the leakages in the Paris protocol and enables Palestine to collect
their own customs because their state will have clear and defined
If they would like a different trade regime they should be able
to propose whatever they want because the economic consequences for Israel are
Israel should do everything possible to allow for a
7. Water – with double the amount of water
available today because of desalination and reuse of waste water there is no
real water conflict any more. Palestine will have to have an equitable share of
all of the water available in the territory between the Jordan and the Sea and
water has a wonderful characteristic enabling this – it moves. The two states
will probably arrive at a reallocation agreement, but I would propose, in the
interest of real peace, a joint management model which states that all of the
water is a shared resource, not only the water underneath the West Bank. Gaza
will need a desalination plant of its own and should already be working on that
8. Security arrangements – without security there is no agreement
on any of the above. Security arrangements need to provide real security for
both peoples. Primary security responsibility is in the hands of each side
within its own territory. Security cooperation between the two must be robust. A
multi-national force (similar to Sinai) led by the US or by NATO with Israeli
and Palestinian participation will hold longterm responsibilities along the
Jordan. International monitors will be on the ground to ensure full compliance
of security arrangements.
More – there will be a Jewish minority in
Palestine. The rights of the Jews in Palestine will be linked to the rights of
the Arabs citizens of Israel. The borders between the two states should be as
open as possible. Cooperation between the two states should be the goal of both
sides in every field possible.
An agreement is meant to enable a new
relationship taking both sides beyond conflict toward truly peaceful
Our physical space is so small; we are both required to
cooperate on all aspects concerning the environment and on many other issues
that are cross-boundary concerns.
The agreement must build bridges of
cooperation and not walls of separation.
Implementation of the agreement
will be incremental, over time based on performance and upholding obligations
within the agreements. A third party monitor/judge (likely the US) will be
necessary for this purpose.
This agreement is possible. The concessions
within are not losses but gains and both sides will be able to stand tall and
declare peace and victory.
Gershon Baskin is the 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.