The media yesterday was filled with reports that inside the White House, the President’s advisers, reflecting both President Obama’s and Secretary Kerry’s deep commitment to finding peace between Israel and the Palestinians, do not want to leave office without publicizing their own understanding of what a two-states for two peoples solution would include.
It’s about time!
I’ve long believed that though Israel and the Palestinians have to be the parties that come to an end-of-conflict agreement together that settles all outstanding issues between them including borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, and water, Israel and the Palestinians are incapable of doing this on their own for lack of trust, fear and hatred. They both need regional and international support to go forward, and without American, EU, UN, and Arab League support, a deal cannot be achieved.
None other than Martin Indyk, who served as the special envoy for Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations under Secretary Kerry in 2013 and 2014 and is as close a friend to Israel as there is in American and international diplomacy, was quoted in today’s NY Times as saying:
“Obama and Kerry are looking at the very real likelihood that the two-state solution could die on their watch…Having tried everything else, I think they feel a responsibility, above all to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, to preserve the principles of a two-state solution.”
The essentials of the Obama parameters are nothing new and fairy well known:
• Secure borders roughly drawn along the 1967 “Green Line” with land swaps that would include within Israel 75% of the large Israeli settlements;
• A demilitarized West Bank except for Palestinian policing;
• Two capitals of Israel and Palestine in Jerusalem with clear and enforceable security guarantees for each nation;
• All Palestinian refugees to to return to the state of Palestine and not the state of Israel;
• Compensation paid to Palestinian refugees (and I would hope) to Jewish refugees who fled their Arab countries of origins in 1948 and whose property was nationalized by those countries at the time of their flight;
• Withdrawal of all Israeli settlements in Palestine beyond the borders established, unless those settlers and the Palestinian government agree that they could remain but live peaceably and securely in a Palestinian state;
• Shared water rights from the Jordan River;
• As guaranteed by the Arab League Peace proposal of 2002, full recognition and normalization of relations between all Arab moderate and pragmatic states with the state of Israel.
I would add one more item to the parameters – Just as the state of Israel recognizes the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to a nation state of their own, the Palestinians will recognize in writing the legitimate rights of the Jewish people to a nation state of our own.
How the President ought to make his parameters known is the question – either in a Presidential speech, as have before him Presidents Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush, or in a UN Security Council Resolution, or in a looser agreement between the Quartet, EU, Arab League, and the US.
Martin Indyk “agreed that a Security Council resolution need not be punitive for Israel” (NY Times), and could be effectively modeled on a United Nations resolution adopted after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which called for Israeli forces to withdraw from occupied territories and for the establishment of a lasting peace.
I had hoped that after the failed talks between Israel and the Palestinians in 2014 that Obama/Kerry would have done this already. But, it’s never too late – and I believe they owe it to both Israel and the Palestinians to lay out on the table what they believe is doable, reasonable and fair for both sides, requiring significant compromise by both the state of Israel and the Palestinian leadership.
Those who argue against such a move are essentially arguing that it is better to maintain the status quo, and the status quo leading to a one-state solution is unsustainable and a recipe for continuing violence, terrorism and war. Further, it is a clear path to the eventual dissolution of and destruction of the nation state of the Jewish people as a democratic Jewish state.
There is nothing more important for the Jewish people and the state of Israel than that this be avoided, in spite of the risks. When weighing the risks of doing nothing and attempting to “manage the crisis” as PM Netanyahu has said he would rather do (and we see what “managing the crisis” means right now with stabbings all over the state of Israel – and setting clearly what the parameters for a secure peace agreement might be, the risks are far greater should Israel and the Palestinians do nothing.
The Israeli people, American Jews, and anyone who values, respects and loves the state of Israel must support the President and Secretary laying forward a clear pathway to an agreement now!