Palestinians offer peace plan to Israel
Filed under: international | Tags: Abu Mazen, Arab League, Arab-Israeli conflict, Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, east Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Israel, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestine, Palestinian Authority, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Second Intifada, two-state solution, West Bank settlements |
There is a positive development in the Arab-Israeli conflict: the Palestinian Authority has published, in Hebrew, a peace proposal in Israel’s four largest daily papers. It outlines the plan that’s backed by both Saudi Arabia and the Arab League that calls for:
- Israel withdraws from entire Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Eastern Jerusalem;
- Normalization of relations between Israel and the 57 members of the Arab League, who would “consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended”; and
- the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Apparently it was Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s idea to place the ads, which describe what Israeli officials have called a “positive initiative” that need to be “fine tuned and corrected.”.
Like the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, this blog favors a two-state solution and welcomes this development. This is a serious proposal, and hopefully is being offered and will be taken and seriously.
Of course the third item, the Palestinian right of return, would significantly change the nature of Israel in the short-term, making it about 40% Arab, and would have the longer-term effect of there being two Palestinian states, due to demographics changes. However, the plan calls for a “just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem,” which could be accomplished via other means. For instance, I rather think it’d be well worth it for the United States to put up several billion dollars to compensate the refugees and allow them to get on with their lives in a rebuilding Palestinian state; it’d be much cheaper and safer than an indefinite continuation of the status quo.
There are two major stumbling blocks that need to be removed. For their part, Israel needs to remove the settlements which have been built in the West Bank. Just as two Palestinian states wouldn’t qualify as a solution neither would two Israeli states, which is basically what is accomplished with these settlements. They need to be dismantled, something which can be accomplished fairly easily. Israel should begin removing these outposts immediately and unilaterally. That will put the onus on the Palestinians to do their part and will show everyone that Israel is serious about making a Palestinian state possible.
The second major problem going forward is the ability of the Palestinian Authority to end the attacks on Israel. If they can’t do that, this isn’t going to work; Israel must have security. Lasting peace will require two states, side by side, and living in peace with each other. Of course, there will be some radicals on both sides who will reject any possible compromise; some on the Arab side will likely resort to violence.
Reportedly, President-elect Barack Obama finds this Arab proposal to be constructive. He is also impressed with Benjamin Netanyahu’s “economic peace” plan, which calls for rebuilding the economy and infrastructure of the Palestinian areas as a prelude to a formal peace plan. If Palestinians had more jobs and were less desperate, they’d be less likely to strap bombs to themselves.
There have been problems with just about all the peace deals offered thus far, and this one from the Arab League is no exception. However, I think the way forward is becoming pretty clear. Ultimately, I think there will be two states, based largely on the 1967-borders (with some 1:1 land swaps) and no right of return, but some other sort of compensation to make up for that. This won’t happen until Israel dismantles, or guarantees it will dismantle, the West Bank settlements and the Palestinians make significant progress in curbing the violence from their side. I predict this will happen 5-20 years from now. It’s just a matter of how soon the two sides realize this and make it happen. More than 42% Palestinians are under 15. Hopefully they’ll soon realize that violence isn’t going to get them what they want and will reject terrorism and decide that most of what they want with peace and modernization is better than a continuation of the violence.