(photo credit: reuters)
US Secretary of State John Kerry said at the end of this round of shuttle
diplomacy: “It’s our intention – and we all committed to this, every party – to
continue our intensive discussions with the belief that they are constructive
and they are in good faith, and that we intend to try to create the conditions
for peace so that we can resume negotiations between the parties in a clear and
precise, predetermined manner.”
The response in Israel and Palestine to
Kerry’s words from politicians, pundits and journalists seems so cynical. One
typical response, written on my Facebook page: “Hmmm, I wonder where and when I
have heard same thing....” Yes, it is true, we have heard it before, we’ve been
there before, tried it, it failed – so I guess it can’t happen.
was equally emphatic when he stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is
resolvable. That to me was refreshing; I thought I was one of the only ones
around making that declaration. I will say it again: the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict is resolvable! Not only that; we all know what the solution looks
We actually have a pretty good idea of what it will take to reach
an agreement. We know what concessions each side will have to make. We can
pretty much now put out the map of the borders between the two states. We know
what kind of security arrangements are necessary. We know how to deal with
Jerusalem, that will be the capital of two states. We know how to confront the
sensitive issue of the Holy Places in Jerusalem, Hebron and elsewhere. We know
how to best deal with the refugee issue in a manner that will guarantee the
validity of the two-state solution and enable refugees to have dignity and the
ability to start a new life in their own state.
We know what kind of
assistance we will need from third parties for monitoring, verifying
implementation, assisting with realtime dispute resolution. We know what steps
each side will have to make to begin to create a culture of peace and to fight
extremism, incitement and hate language and education.
We also know how
to come up with more equitable ways of sharing the scarce water resources of
this land. We know what needs to be done to protect our shared
We know how to conserve and preserve our valuable natural
resources. We know how to enable the Palestinian state’s rapid achievement of
economic growth and how to bring prosperity to all of the people living on this
We also know what will happen if we don’t do these things. We have
already felt the pains of war. We have experienced terrorism, destruction,
injury and death. We have all buried too many of our loved ones over this
conflict. We have lived with fear, despair and hatred for too long. This land
that we all love so dearly has drunk too much of our blood protecting it from
This land belongs to us, we all say, Israelis and Palestinians.
We will not give up our rights to this land. Jews have rights to it
Palestinians have rights to it all. All of Eretz Yisrael is ours, we
say. All of Palestine is ours, they say. We can’t have it all, not us, and not
the Palestinians. None of us are leaving. We have fought and died and we are
willing to fight and die so that we can both have a piece of land we call home,
a land of our own. We both want a territorial expression of our own identity. We
will not live under their rule and they will not live under ours.
is only one solution – division, partition.
There is no other. We will
not live in a homogenized state with a non-national identity, and neither will
they. A bi-national state is not possible; if it has such difficulty working in
Belgium with its cold climate (both meteorologically and culturally) then how
could it work in the Middle East? We can’t have it all. We cannot continue to
control them. They will not agree to acquiesce to our control. They will not
give up their dreams to be a free people in their land. They will not give up on
their part of Jerusalem. They will not give up on their territorial demand of 22
percent of the land between the River and the Sea.
That’s right – 22%!
Only 22%. That is what they are demanding. That is what they told president
Clinton. That is what they told president Bush. That is what they told President
Obama. That is what they demanded in the United Nations. That is what the
international community recognized in the United Nations. That is what the
Palestinian people say to the people of Israel. We are ready to have our state
in a part of the land, a small part. We are ready to recognize Israel on 78% of
the land. This is what they have been saying to us since November 1988. That is
the Israel that they are willing to live in peace with. No more and no
They recognize that facts have changed on the ground since they
rejected the partition plan in 1947. They recognize that facts have changed
since the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel conquered all of the land between the
River and the Sea. They recognize that it is impossible to return to the exact
borders that were set in the armistice agreements in 1949 and are called the
“green line.” They accept the idea of territorial swaps in order to adjust the
border so that settlement blocs can be incorporated into the State of
Then why didn’t they accept Ehud Barak’s offer or Ehud Olmert’s
offer? Because both of those were presented at the times as “take it or leave it
– it is the best offer you will get” and the negotiations were not complete. All
of the issues had not been resolved. It was not yet an agreement that both sides
could live with. There were still gaps.
Let’s pick up from where Olmert
We were very close. Those gaps can be closed in a short
This conflict is resolvable and yes, we know how to do it. But if
we don’t, and if it is not soon, we will face another round of violence. The
Palestinian leaders of today who are prepared to make peace with us today will
not be around tomorrow. There is urgency, the clock is ticking. This is not a
cry of “wolf.” This is for real. Danger looms around the corner. We don’t have
to fall into the abyss.
This conflict is resolvable.
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.