Making Israeli-Palestinian peace real

Detailing the parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty

Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
I BELIEVE the following to be absolutely true:
• The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mainly centered on a struggle between two peoples fighting for a territorial expression of their identity on the same piece of land.
• All of the Land of Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is sacred to the Jewish people.
• All of the Land of Palestine from the River to the Sea is sacred to the Palestinian people.
• It is immoral to continue to deny the Palestinian people liberation, the right of self-determination and a state of their own, next to Israel, not instead of Israel.
• In a “two-states for two peoples” solution, which is the only viable solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the State of Israel will exist on 78 percent of the land between the River and the Sea and the State of Palestinian will exist on 22 percent of the land. In the best scenario, borders between the two states will allow for relatively free movement of peoples and goods, based on the level of security.
• The only way to reach genuine peace between Israel and Palestine is through a negotiated agreement.
• The region is facing new threats that create new opportunities for regional cooperation towards stability and security. Regional security cooperation is dependent on Israeli acceptance of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 as the basis for negotiations with the Palestinians.
It is clear that any Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty must include the following parameters: The Palestinian state will be established in the territories occupied/ conquered/liberated by Israel in June 1967 including most of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The parties will agree to an Israeli annexation of about 4 percent of the West Bank which will enable about 75- 80 percent of the Israeli settlers to remain where they are under Israeli sovereignty.
Jerusalem will be the capital of both states as one united open city without physical borders. Sovereignty in the city will be determined on the basis of demography – Jewish areas under Israeli sovereignty, Palestinian areas under Palestinian sovereignty. The Holy Places will be open to all under current status-quo arrangements. As the political situation calms and relations improve, there will be discussions regarding Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.
All Palestinian refugees will have the right to return to the Palestinian state at any time, always, and to receive automatic Palestinian citizenship. They will also be able to choose between staying in host countries or applying for citizenship in a list of third countries willing to accept them. All refugees will be able to voice their preferences, but the decision on where they go will ultimately be dependent on the third country in question agreeing to accept them. Those countries will also decide how many Palestinian refugees they are willing to absorb.
One of the options on that list could be Israel. While Israel will not call it the “right of return,” it could agree to a limited number of refugees entering the country under a family reunification scheme.
All Palestinian refugees who have lost property will be entitled to make a claim for fair compensation to be determined by an international mechanism. An international fund will be established for that purpose to which Israel will contribute. UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, will be dismantled.
Both sides could allow permanent residents in their state, who are citizens of the state next door. In other words, Israelis could live in Palestine as permanent residents enjoying all citizens’ rights except for the right to vote in Palestinian national elections. They would exercise their right to vote in Israel. This could also be the case for Palestinians in Israel – those already here, if and only if they freely choose to give up their Israeli citizenship, or newcomers under a family reunification scheme, who would enjoy all Israeli rights and freedoms, but vote in Palestine.
This could help remove the demographic equation from the conflict.
The most fundamental element in any agreement will be the issue of security. I firmly believe that this has to be the joint responsibility of both parties. Palestine will be a demilitarized state, as the Palestinians have already agreed. That includes Gaza, assuming that the regime controlling it accepts the parameters of the peace agreement. If that is not the case, Gaza will not be part of the agreement.
I am opposed to the idea of third party peacekeeping forces. I don’t believe that any third party can keep the peace better than the Israelis and Palestinians can. If Israelis and Palestinians together cannot agree on joint responsibility for securing the peace, there will be no agreement on anything else. This is perhaps the most fundamental element of the agreement.
IT WILL require hard work to develop security mechanisms that are truly jointly run and interdependent. Such mechanisms have never existed before. The joint patrols of Oslo and the security coordination of today are not what I am talking about. In both those models, the Palestinian security forces are essentially subcontractors for Is - rael. They are subordinate to Israel, fund - ed mostly by the West and usually feel that they are not protecting their own interests, but those of the occupier. Today Israel has full military control of all of the territories.
That cannot continue.
Israel must be able to provide security for Israel. The way to do that is to create joint security mechanisms with mutual arrange - ments to ensure their balance and sustainability. For example, Israel will be able to maintain a long-term security presence in the Jordan valley through a joint Israeli-Palestinian force on one side of the Jordan and security cooperation with the Jordanian army on the other.
Joint Israeli-Palestinian forces can work together in all areas of concern, but when forces are stationed in Palestinian areas, they will be under Palestinian command.
In order to balance this, there could be joint forces at certain points in Israel – for example in Ben-Gurion International Airport – where they would be under Israeli command. Security measures and mechanisms at border crossing points would be based on joint intelligence sharing and people being pre-screened, as they are at airports throughout the world.
There will, however, be a need for a third party implementation assistance mechanism, a team of monitors and inspectors, led by a trusted third party, such as the Americans. Their task will be to ensure that the parties are implementing the obligations they took upon themselves in the agreement and to resolve disputes between them.
The implementation of the agreements will be gradual and based on a combination of target dates and performance bench - marks. Israeli withdrawals, for example, would be linked to pre-set performance benchmarks and only when those are met would implementation of the next phase begin.
The last crucial element is the development of a culture of peace on both sides of the border. We must together erase the culture of hatred, suspicion and fear with a culture of understanding, tolerance and peace.
This entails text books and education but goes way beyond that toward fostering part - nerships in every field of life, particularly in economic development.
Israel and Palestine will work with the in - ternational community to create an interna - tional fund for Israeli-Palestinian peace that will invest billions to underpin security and stability.
Both sides will also create a senior cabinet level position: Minister of Peace responsi - ble for implementing all the non-military aspects of the agreement. They would co - ordinate an aggressive plan for normalizing relations and ensuring cooperation between every civilian ministry in their respective governments.
No, it won’t be easy to reach these kinds of agreements and understandings. The first element necessary is leadership that genu - inely wants to get there. We don’t have that today. But as soon as we have a leader, a prime minister who makes peace with our neighbors a top priority, we will be well on the way to an agreement. The really hard work of making peace will begin the day after a treaty is signed.
With leaders who really want it, negotiating the agreement is the relatively easy part.
 Gershon Baskin is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives, and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book ‘Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel’ has been published by Kinneret Zmora- Bitan in Hebrew and ‘The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas’ by The Toby Press.