Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Israeli four-point plan

Raphael Israeli, professor of Islam and the Middle East at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, proposes the following peace plan (posted on ICJS, 1/6/09):

...A positive approach would be to announce a four-principle policy, which even if rejected at first by the Arabs and other Muslims should be egalitarian, just and reciprocal to the West, and especially to the US. This would be vastly superior to drawing red lines which are constantly eroded and thus demonstrate weakness and lack of determination.

First, Israel should declare its recognition of the right of self-determination of all Arab and Muslim peoples, including the Palestinians, providing that they recognize the same for the Jewish people. Non-recognition of that right to the Jewish people would represent a non-starter for any negotiation. So far, Israel has recognized the Palestinians, but no reciprocation has been forthcoming, evidenced by Abu Mazen's rejection of Israel as a Jewish state.

Second, Israel recognizes the national liberation aspirations of all those nations recognizing Israel's own national liberation movement, that being Zionism. In Oslo, Israel recognized the PLO, but her mindless negotiators never insisted on reciprocation. Hence the continued denigration of the national revival of the Jews, by all Arabs and Muslims, and the continued validity of the PLO Charter which derogates Zionism and vows its eradication.

Third, the entire land of historical Palestine, including Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza (the land of Israel in Israeli parlance), must be put up for negotiation and be re-apportioned between Israeli-Jews and Palestinian-Arabs, who are both the owners of the territory and the sole determinants of its disposition. How they each call their portion is according to their own discretion: Palestine, Israel, Zion, the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine, the Arab State, the Jewish State etc. Palestinian Arabs, like the Israeli Jews, certainly deserve a state, large enough to accommodate most of the Palestinians, but not separate Palestinian entities in Gaza, Amman, the West Bank, the Negev and the Galilee, while the Jewish state is challenged and called into question.

Fourth, when the final and permanent border between the two entities is determined by negotiations, distinction must be made between sovereignty over territory and the personal status of the inhabitants. To wit, that Palestinian Arabs, including the Arabs in Israel who elect to identify as Palestinians, can continue to live in Israel as alien residents who owe their loyalty to the Palestinian state, and vice versa for Israeli Jews who would elect to reside in the Palestinian territory. There will be no better guarantee for peace than the mutual presence of each party's population in the other's territory. The gradual voluntary exchange of population might occur over the years, with each individual moving in and out of his/her present dwelling, according to each person's wish and pace, and within the rule of law.

The list of problems accompanying such a long term settlement is long and complicated. But many other existing options have been tested and failed. Great statesmanship consists not only in discriminating between good and bad (that would be too easy), but in seizing the bad before it grows worse. We have been set on a failing course over the past two decades. If we fail again to seize the opportunity, things will grow worse. If we take the initiative, we will have turned a corner and kindled a flame of hope at the end of the tunnel.
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