Negotiating Peace: Lessons From South Africa

The end of Apartheid in 1994 ushered in a new political dispensation in that region, but what may Israel learn from that country's political solution.
The current conflict in Israel is a historic one and its constitutional framework would require that the warring parties, Israel and Palestine, go to the negotiation table at some point in the near future. At this table the two parties would have to reach a blue print for a new government. I am of the opinion that accords that do not address a new country and culture are doomed for failure because they assume two states can govern one territorial region without co-existence. This is incorrect, no two Kings can share the same court.
Israel and Palestine in a post-conflict situation would have to share the same territory undivided. A two state model would always bring to mind that two governments exist. Post-conflict Israel requires one solid government of Jewish and Arab contribution. This is what was done in South Africa - one government, and one citizenship. No allotment of land can be done at this point because the conflict has reached a stage where Israel is intransigent on that point because of security concerns. It is a hard reality that Israel has to police the whole country even the Palestinian settlements.
What would pre-negotiations entail. Here, the main ingredient would be the assisting nations. I would suggest South Africa ( because it is acceptable to Palestine), United States (because it is acceptable to Israel) and Great Britain (because it is partly responsible for misrepresenting promises to both parties). These three nations would shadow and encourage the process. In the current Israel-Palestine conflict the two sides cannot reach a solution on their own because there is too much history and polarity - the problem is two States fighting. It is not the problem of a majority seeking self determination (Apartheid). Given that two States are at arms, international mediation will play a vital and powerful role.
Like in South Africa, a referendum in Israel and Palestine would be necessary to get the citizen's consent to negotiate. In South Africa when the last President of Apartheid South Africa, F.W. De Klerk, put the question (should Apartheid be abolish?) to a referendum - 68.73 % voted yes. This gave De Klerk some traction to move forward.
Current international thinking is that Accords must be signed by Israel and Palestine. This is difficult especially given the situation that it has failed in the past. What is needed is a fresh approach - a Constitutional discussion of what a new post-conflict Israel government must be in a shared country. Once this is agreeable, Israel can have free elections in which both candidates from the old regime and Palestine contest seats. It will be vital that the new constitution legislates for a deputy premier from the losing party.
Historic Redress
The human rights violations and crimes of both sides would have to be dealt with in a tribunal situation similar to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Court. Here, both sides might present war violations against each side for judgment and sentencing. This is vital for the soul of the new Nation as it addresses pain and suffering. A necessary step in creating joint memorials and joint history.
In a nutshell, for peace to exist in Israel both sides need to focus on what is shared - a shared land, a shared territory, a shared lineage (Abraham), and thus a shared holiness.
Ken Sibanda is an American Constitutional Lawyer.