NEW YORK – Former Israeli and US security and diplomacy officials have presented two proposals for achieving a two-state solution, based on systems that they say would satisfy Israel’s security needs in the West Bank while providing Palestinians the sovereignty they require.
The proposals, which were facilitated and coordinated by the Israel Policy Forum, were developed by the Center for a New American Security, an independent nonpartisan research institution, and Commanders for Israel’s Security, a coalition of some 200 former senior members of the IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Mossad and police forces who advocate in support of a two-state solution.
The CIS report, titled, “Security First,” aims to be a “plan of action to extricate Israel from the security dead end and to improve its security situation and international standing.”
To do so, the group believes certain security measures are necessary including: Completing the construction of the West Bank security barrier; implementing a strict border control along the fence; continued military control over the West Bank until a permanent agreement is reached; freezing settlement building; restoring law and order in east Jerusalem and tackling illegal infiltration into Israel.
“When you speak right now in Israel about peace, about a two-state solution, it’s a kind of illusion,” Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Reshef, founder and chairman of CIS and a former commander of the IDF Armored Corps, said during a meeting with journalists in New York on Thursday.
“The rationale behind our Security First plan is that you don’t have to have a partner [for peace] and Israel can and should launch certain measures independently, without considering whether there is or isn’t a partner, until some future negotiation will occur on the permanent solution,” he added.
Reshef explained that beyond enhancing national security in Israel, the goals of the CIS plan is to preserve the option for future negotiations regarding a two-state solution.
“Things are getting worse and worse in the West Bank and even in the Gaza Strip, so we have to preserve the conditions for future negotiation before it’s too late, irreversible,” he said.
Reshef stressed that military action and security measure are not enough to defeat terrorism.
“It should be combined with helping the relevant Palestinians, whether they are in the West Bank, Jerusalem or Gaza, to improve their standards of living, provide them with a kind of hope,” he said, “Then, we will neutralize a lot of their disappointment, their frustration, and they might not enter the roots of terror.”
Reshef and his colleagues at CIS believe that to achieve this, the government should declare that it has no sovereignty claims east of the security barrier and that Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem will be part of Palestine.
“We think the Israeli government should take [the CIS Security Now plan] as a full package and implement it independently, unrelated to what the other party’s reaction will be,” Reshef said. “It can be done and should be done.”
The CIS plan was presented to Israeli ministers last week and received positive responses, according to Reshef.
The second report, published by the Center for a New American Security, was authored by Ilan Goldenberg, US diplomat Martin Indyk’s former chief of staff, Nimrod Novik, the former senior foreign policy adviser to Shimon Peres, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gadi Shamni, former commander of the Gaza Division and the Hebron Brigade; and Col.
Kris Bauman, who worked inside the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as the chief of staff for the senior adviser to the secretary of defense, US Marine Corps Gen. John R.
In the study, the CNAS lays out six key principles for a security system of a two-state solution.
These elements are building a multi-layered system that addresses Israel’s security concerns in which Israel retains the right of self-defense in emergency situations; minimizing Israeli visibility to Palestinian civilians; conducting significant upgrades to security systems and infrastructure; planning a phased redeployment of Israeli security forces; establishing joint operations centers and data sharing mechanisms for Israelis and Palestinians; and employing American forces along the Jordan River.
Goldenberg, who was also part of the team working on the last round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians lead by US Secretary of State John Kerry, said that after the talks failed, the team understood that security had become “the biggest issue in the room if you were ever going to get to a two-state agreement.”
“Israelis will never agree to a two-state solution unless their security requirements are met, and Palestinians will never agree to something that they view as a permanent Israeli presence or occupation in the West Bank,” he told media on Thursday.
The goal of the CNAS study is to achieve a proposal that satisfies both these needs.
“The basic assumption that we make is that the Palestinians will give Israel on security in exchange for borders,” he explained. “This is something that could be acceptable to both sides.
“It’s very important to dispel this myth that the security issue makes it impossible to get to any kind of agreement,” Goldenberg said.
He added that while most of the proposal, which the CNAS believes could constitute a good base for negotiations, would take years to implement, some of the suggested steps could be taken today, without negotiations or any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
“These are things that would make Israel and the Palestinians more secure today but will also mean that in the event of an agreement, things can move faster because we already have the infrastructure set up.”
The Israel Policy Forum has published a website detailing the principles of both studies to gain public exposure.
The CIS Security Now plan is also being advertised, in a campaign to reach out to the Israeli public through newspaper ads and video clips on social media.