Israel/Palestine: The Politics of a Two-State Solution

  • Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution
  • When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East

Friday, April 8, 2011

Israel's new peace plan

A private group of former leading security officials including three former heads of the Shabak internal security service, a former chief of staff of the IDF and a former major general and head of the Labor Party, have released an Israeli Peace Initiative nine years after the launch of the Arab Peace Initiative. It, however, like the Geneva Peace Initiative of 2003 and the Ayalon-Nusseibeh initiative is an unofficial rather than an official plan. The aim of the release is apparently to get Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, head of the Kadima party, to embrace the new plan. The fate of the plan, however, will depend on other actors such as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

If they keep quiet the plan may have a chance of getting traction with the Israeli public and developing an influential following. Most likely, however, some incident will cause tensions to escalate and emotions will take over and the news cycle will become occupied with other events. The intervention of Washington could possibly make a difference, but with Washington bogged down in three Middle Eastern wars and Obama potentially facing a tough reelection challenge next year, this seems unlikely.

The plan calls for a return to the 1949 armistice lines with territorial swaps, no significant return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, and Palestinian administration of the Temple Mount without possessing actual sovereignty over it. It is in many ways an extension or repeat of the terms of the 2003 Geneva Plan, that was negotiated between the Israeli opposition of the time and members of the Palestinian Authority. The plan generally respects the red lines of both sides and makes trade offs among them so that neither side gets all or even most of what it wants, but both sides get what they need to sell the deal to their publics if they are willing to get out in front of it.

In September 1982 the Reagan administration publicly announced the so-called Reagan Plan based on negotiations between Israel and Jordan over the West Bank and Gaza. The plan was basically a restatement of Labor Party policy--the Jordanian option. Likewise, Obama in a second term (or a future president, most likely a Democrat) could use this new Israeli plan as the basis for its own plan. The new plan is compatible with the 2002 Arab plan and an American administration would just have to finesse the differences. This means that the Israeli electorate would have to cooperate by giving Kadima a mandate. 

Here are links to a news article discussing the plan and commentary on it by Israeli journalist Gershon Gorenberg. 

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