Seperation barrier Jerusalem.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Under the public radar and due to extreme amounts of skepticism, George
Mitchell’s mediation efforts continue without public debate or concern. The
silence is because almost no one believes they will be constructive, and the
media blackout imposed by Mitchell.
Four rounds of talks have taken
place. The parameters have been set, the process has begun, and now it is time
to get serious.
The proximity talks can produce agreements; this is how I
think they should proceed:
• Intensive negotiations: Talks conducted
month are not going to produce an agreement. The best model for
is Camp David I between Egypt and Israel. Convening intensive talks,
even if not
face-to-face, in an isolated location for at least five days at a time
way to move. The initial talks will not involve the principals –
Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas – but the lead negotiators and technical
The process must now move into an intensive phase.
goal of the proximity talks is to advance a permanent-status agreement
will put an end to the conflict. The core issues – borders, security,
and refugees – are all on the table. Israel’s preference is to deal with
security prior to setting borders; the Palestinians’ preference is to
It is essential to deal with borders so that we can
issue of settlements to rest. Once a border is agreed to, Israel can
build in all the settlements that will be incorporated into it.
the core issues are linked and cannot be dealt with apart from each
Palestinian leaders have said they will accept any reasonable Israeli
regarding security. Their two main reservations are predictability –
arrangements cannot be left to the discretion of the sergeant at the
– and no Israeli military presence within the Palestinian state.
White House official made an unreported 24- hour visit to Jerusalem two
ago to explore with Netanyahu his constraints on moving forward. The
raised by Netanyahu was his demand that the eastern border of the
state be sealed hermetically from smuggling of weapons, ammunition and
terrorists so that the West Bank would not turn into the Gaza Strip – a
line of Islamic terrorism against Israel. Netanyahu’s view is that only
can ensure this but it is unacceptable to the Palestinians.
of any security agreements must be that each side is responsible for its
security. In Oslo the paradigm was that the Palestinian Authority forces
prevent attacks against Israel, while Israel withdrew from territories
would come under PA control.
From the Palestinian point of view,
failed to withdraw from all the territories which they understood would
basis for their state, and instead settlement building accelerated. In
eyes, the PA security apparatus became collaborators with the ongoing
occupation, which explains the vigor with which those forces joined the
From Israel’s point of view, the PA failed in its
mission by design and by ideology, and in response it withheld further
redeployments. However you look at it, what happened must be avoided
reaching new agreements.
Palestinians must be held responsible
security of their external borders. A multinational force led by the US
responsible for monitoring the implementation of the security
of the parties. This force must also have the mandate and capacity to
job” if the parties fail to implement those obligations. A reasonable
at least for the first few years, would be to integrate unarmed Israeli
observers in specific positions along the eastern border of Palestine,
While dealing with security arrangements the discussion
borders must be advanced. Abbas has indicated to President Barack Obama
Palestinians would be willing to consider enlarging the size of the
Israel would annex to place the main settlement blocks under its
under the condition of territorial swaps on a 1:1 basis. So far Israel
agreed to the principle but not to the 1:1 formula. I have suggested to
Mitchell team that the talks delineating the border begin by Israel
map of the “swap territories.”
• Delineating the border brings us
Jerusalem. The talks on Jerusalem should be separated into three
issues – the territorial dimension of the city outside of the Old City,
City and the Temple Mount/Haram al- Sharif. It should be determined from
outset that Jerusalem will be an open city, not one divided by walls and
Outside of the Old City walls, political division of the city is
that each people will live under its own sovereignty.
City, there are a number of possibilities for dealing with the less than
Talking about Jerusalem will automatically lead
discussion of the refugee issue. It is understood that there are
the various issues to reach a package deal. There is a trade-off between
Jerusalem and refugees where Palestinians get sovereignty over
Jerusalem and control over the Haram al-Sharif, which they effectively
control, (Israel will retain control over the Western Wall) and the
return of refugees is mainly to the Palestinian state. The Palestinians
transform the concept of “return to home” into “return to homeland”
All the above is possible, but predicated on
main elements – that the settlement freeze continues beyond September
the security situation remains calm, and security cooperation and
Palestinian deployment continues concurrent with Israeli redeployment
Palestinian-controlled areas and that after the November elections in
President Obama takes control of the process.The writer is co-CEO of the
Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (www.ipcri.org),
elected member of the leadership of the Green Movement political party.