Encountering peace: Saving the two-state solution

The Palestinians have intelligently named their strategy the “plan to save the two-state solution.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and his chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in Ramallah (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and his chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in Ramallah
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A few days ago I visited Beit Hadassah in the heart of the Jewish community in Hebron and heard from their English spokesperson that “the two-state solution is dead – there will never be a Palestinian state.” As someone who believes very strongly that there is no other solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, I can honestly say that it is very much alive – and will come to pass much sooner than most people think.
As long as the Palestinians refrain from renewed violence in the form of a new violent intifada, their international diplomatic strategy will be successful.
The Palestinians are on the path to victory, and as long as they are able to contain violence, even in the face of settler violence against them, they will get their state and the Israeli occupation will finally come to an end.
Ironically, the more Israel opposes the Palestinians, places diplomatic barriers in their way and most importantly continues to build settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the more support the Palestinians will gain and the more the international disgust with Israel will increase. The formula is quite simple; the world is sick and tired of the occupation, and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The trigger for this disgust is most definitely the aggressive settlement policies of the Netanyahu government. The war in Gaza this summer, and the pictures of death and destruction that emerged from it, have created a renewed determination in the world to see the Palestinians free of Israel.
It is true that there will be no peace without a negotiated agreement. But the spokesperson of the Hebron Jewish community is completely blind to the realities that exist five minutes from his home in the center of Hebron, and across the entire globe.
The state of Palestine is coming into existence and whether he likes it or not, the Israeli occupation over the Palestinian people will come to an end. The Palestinian political program is clear, coherent and strategic. First, they are seeking recognition of the state of Palestine, recognized by the UN in September 2013. 134 countries have already recognized Palestine.
Now the Palestinians are seeking recognition from the countries of the European Union.
The positive outcome of the issue in the British Parliament is the first step in the direction of gaining formal recognition from the UK government. Spain is next on the list and then France. Once France agrees to recognize Palestine, they believe that another 10 countries will follow. In parallel the Palestinians have worked hard to have five new countries appointed to the UN Security Council which will support the Palestinian draft resolution – Spain, New Zealand, Venezuela, Angola and Malaysia – replacing Australia, Argentina, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda, which have traditionally not supported the Palestinians. The Palestinian strategy is to get the votes of at least nine of the 15 members of the Security Council and to have no vetoes against the resolution, including by the United States.
The Palestinians have intelligently named their strategy the “plan to save the two-state solution.”
Their draft resolution to the Security Council is composed of wording taken directly from speeches of US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other world leaders. The first operative paragraph states: Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders, 1. Affirms its determination to contribute to the attainment, without delay, of a peaceful solution that ends the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, and fulfills the vision of two States: an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders.
2. Urges the intensification of efforts, including, inter alia, through negotiations, for the achievement of a comprehensive, just, lasting and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008), and the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap.
The main demand then comes: (a) The full withdrawal of Israel, the occupying Power, from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as rapidly as possible and to be fully completed within a specified timeframe, not to exceed November 2016, and the achievement of the independence and sovereignty of the State of Palestine and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.
6. Reiterates its demand for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians believe that following the November mid-term elections in the US, there is a possibility that the US will not use its veto in the UN and may not apply pressure on other states to vote against the resolution. The chances of this increase with every new housing plan the Israeli government discloses for additional settlement building.
But the Palestinians are experienced enough to know that another Security Council resolution will not liberate them or deliver their state to them. The Palestinians see enormous progress being made in the international boycott campaign against Israel.
The Gaza war was definitely the clincher in terms of gaining more support around the world for boycotting Israel, not only the settlements, and for even pushing for sanctions against the State of Israel if settlement activities continue and expand and there is no progress on the diplomatic front. Very few people around the world today can continue to justify the continuation of the occupation. Even fewer can comprehend why Israel continues to build settlements in areas that the world believes should be the State of Palestine. The continued pictures of settler violence against Palestinians foster even greater determination to apply pressure against Israel until it agrees to end its occupation over the Palestinian people.
Eventually – and sooner rather than later – the people of Israel will wake up to the rapidly emerging new reality that most of the world can no longer accept Israel’s refusal to give up its control over the Palestinians. When that happens, the people of Israel will either force their government to negotiate a fair deal ending the occupation, or will elect a new government that will do the job. The current talk of new elections in 2015 is rather encouraging in light of the international dynamics.
The conflict will end through negotiations, but it seems Israel will only be prepared to negotiate seriously once there is considerably more international pressure applied regarding its policies of oppression against the Palestinian people. This is a very sad reality, and so unnecessary, because ending the occupation and making a real and fair peace deal with the Palestinians is most definitely in Israel’s own national strategic interests.
The author is co-chairman of IPCRI, 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 new book Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew and as The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas by The Toby Press.