The Israeli Peace Initiative

A new initiative authored by 50 of Israel’s leaders of industry and security agencies calls on gov't to make large-scale territorial concessions and reach a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem in exchange for peace. If the gov’t chooses to ignore it, it must offer a viable alternative.

United Nations 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
United Nations 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As children, my generation grew up seeing photos of our parents dancing in the streets of Tel Aviv in 1947 following the UN resolution in November recognizing the establishment of the State of Israel. Sixty four years later, we might again see similar photos - not from Tel Aviv this time, but from Ramallah, celebrating UN recognition of a Palestinian state.
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Is this still avoidable? Should Israel even try to avoid it? Or should it be supporting the resolution? It depends of course, on who you ask.
Let’s assume however, that it is preferable for Israel to prevent the UN vote from taking place. How, then, should Israel handle it at this stage?
Last week, a group of fifty Israelis, including security experts, ex-diplomats, Middle East analysts and business tycoons, published the Israeli Peace Initiative (IPI) to map out a way to prevent the UN vote from taking place this September. But as experienced as they may be, those fifty people do not comprise the government - nor do they pretend to be. Changing the course of events of course, must be initiated by the country’s leaders and  not civil society.
As for the IPI itself, its content doesn’t come as a revelation to those versed in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It proposes an Israeli withdrawal and return to the 1967 lines, while dividing Jerusalem into two separate capitals – Israeli and Palestinian. All this in exchange for ending the Jewish-Arab conflict we all are sick of. Simple, really.
But while the content is nothing new, the timing and the signatories certainly are. The group is lead by one of the most prominent businessmen in Israel, Idan Ofer - a man who never before was involved in anything remotely connected to politics. Ofer explained that he owes the peace initiative to his shareholders, to whom he gave warning that the Israeli economy may collapse under the growing wave of international criticism; A wave that may lead to worldwide sanctions against Israel.
The signatories of the IPI, including Yaakov Peri (former head of Shabak) and former Labor Party chief General (ret) Amram Mitzna, are convinced that the initiative does not endanger the security of Israel. In fact, they insist, it is quite the opposite and that without it, guaranteeing Israel's future security will be very difficult.
While it is very unlikely that the Israeli government will adopt this private initiative as is, it is impossible for them to ignore it entirely. Doing so will guarantee the dancing in Ramallah's streets in November 2011 - an event that both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are determined to prevent.
The more the government can employ the ideas set out in the IPI, the more successful they will be in preventing a hostile UN resolution recognizing a Palestinian state. If Netanyahu chooses to go down that path, his chances of resuming serious peace talks and avoid UN intervention will increase considerably 
Idan Ofer, Yaakov Peri, Amram Mitzna et al are pointing at a possible direction toward peace. If indeed, the Israeli government disagrees with this course, now is the time to present an alternative. After all, everyone is sick and tired of waiting to hear what’s in store for Israel.
The writer is one of the fifty signatories of the IPI.