Encountering Peace: It’s time for Palestine

For the survival and for the security of Israel, it is time for Palestine.

PEOPLE MARCH as they hold a large Palestinian flag in Ramallah in October (photo credit: REUTERS)
PEOPLE MARCH as they hold a large Palestinian flag in Ramallah in October
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas penned an op-ed piece on April 28, 2015, in Horizon Magazine. The article is a clear articulation of the Palestinian position. It is filled with anger and frustration and accusations against Israel. It is undoubtedly difficult for Israelis to read and to agree with. I am quite sure that there will be a lot of articles written in Israel and in the Jewish world against Abbas’s article. There is certainly enough substance in his words to argue with. As a result of what will be perceived by most of the readers of The Jerusalem Post as being negative and anti-Israel, I have tried below to extract what I believe are the positive and operative aspects of what Abbas is saying.
These are his words and they appear in his op-ed piece, with the negative comments edited out.
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As one of the architects of the Oslo Interim Agreement, I can say without hesitation that Palestinians understood and endorsed the painful compromises required to reach peace well before the Oslo Accords were signed. In 1988, Palestine unilaterally recognized Israel over 78 percent of historic Palestine, in addition to recognizing relevant United Nations resolutions as the framework for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
When Palestine signed the Oslo Accords with Israel, it did so based on this very commitment to the two-state solution.
Indeed, Palestine has shown through demonstrable actions its staunch and practical commitment to the vision of two sovereign and democratic states living side by side in peace and security on the 1967 borders.
The Oslo Accords were based on the promise of a final status agreement after a five-year interim period. Today, 22 years after the Oslo Agreement, the Israeli occupation has turned into the effective annexation of our country.
Our peaceful and positive strategy aims to change the unacceptable and unsustainable status quo. Our goal remains the same: realizing the two-state formula in line with international law and the international consensus. Our tools are also clear: we rely on international law and human rights instruments that were designed to resolve conflicts peacefully and prevent the indignities of war. In all endeavors, we rely on the steadfastness of our people and its right to peacefully demonstrate and campaign against Israeli occupation. We also take great strength from the growing global solidarity movement.
Ending the Occupation
The Palestinian people are pursuing a strategy of internationalization in order to end the occupation, reach a just and lasting peace.
We believe that the international community must make clear, through urgent and effective actions, on which side of history it stands.
All states have a standing legal and moral obligation to uphold and protect the principles of international law and human rights. In this regard, we assert that our multilateral and law-based approach complements and does not contradict our commitment to a peaceful and negotiated resolution of the conflict.
We ask the international community to support our right to self-determination by recognizing the State of Palestine on the land Israel occupied in 1967.
Support the Arab Peace Initiative – the most generous regional peace plan we could ever have.
Shoulder your responsibilities under international law by banning all Israeli settlement products and services, and ensuring the swift divestment from all companies and organizations implicated in the direct or indirect profiteering from violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
Join us in asserting the universality of human rights and the commitment to international law as cornerstones of justice and peace everywhere.
Recognize the State of Palestine and support our concerted and sincere effort to achieve peace based on justice and mutual respect.
It is time.
The Palestinian position is now being negotiated within the international community into text language that will appear in a Security Council Resolution which will probably be presented in September, perhaps before. The text will emphasize the points written above by Abbas and will also stress that the end of the conflict, the end of the Israeli occupation and the creation of a peaceful Palestinian state must come about as a result of renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
I believe that if genuine negotiations were to be renewed, they have the best chance of succeeding if they are conducted in secret and only afterwards, when an agreement is reached, presented to both peoples to be voted on. I believe that it is possible to resolve the issue of Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people through a formula that I call “a deposit,” a statement shaped as “if, then.” I believe that all of the issues in conflict can be agreed on such that Israel becomes a safer and more secure country, and is taken out of the firing line of the upcoming surge in international sanctions and boycotts that are just beginning to brew around the world.
It would enable the Palestinians to secure their homeland and define themselves within an agreed upon territory on which they can be the masters of their destiny.
We can make a peace which is based on eventually arriving at open borders, trade and commerce and cooperation in every field possible that would express the connection that both Jews and Arabs have to all parts of the land between the River and the Sea. We have make a careful and an intelligent peace based on the mistrust that exists between the parties that would ensure a better agreement which is predicated on both parties implementing their treaty obligations and progress in implementation (taking additional risks) being advanced based on positive performance of both parties, and not solely good will and pieces of paper.
This is what we need to do and we really have no choice about it. Despite having a new government in Israel which is against what we must do regarding the Palestinians, we will have to do it anyway, because moving in the opposite direction of further entrenching the occupation and building more settlements will endanger the future of Israel much more than anything I am proposing here.
For the survival and for the security of Israel, it is time for Palestine.
The author is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His book Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew and in English as The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas by The Toby Press.