I am going to toss my hat into the ring on the issue of “jump-starting” Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. There is no deficit of peace initiatives floating around out there, and at worst, I will simply have to buy another hat.
Both sides seem to be content with negotiating with the media and courting public opinion. Neither side wants to make the next move. It is important to remember that since 1982 the Palestine Liberation Organization (the forerunner of the Palestinian Authority) was sitting in Tunis, after having been militarily defeated in the First Lebanon War. Israel made the first move in 1993, allowing Yasser Arafat and the PLO to set up shop in the West Bank as a legal entity for the first time ever.
So, without further introduction, my peace plan.
- A Palestinian state within secure and contiguous borders;
- Recognition of the 1948 Egyptian-Israeli armistice lines as the borders of Gaza;
- Recognition of the 1948 Jordanian-Israeli armistice lines from Al Burj eastward to the Dead Sea as the permanent border of Israel and the Palestinian area of Judea & Samaria; there would be border modifications (i.e. land-swaps) in the areas Eshkolot, Sansana, Tene, Shaniand Mezadot Yehuda;
- A corridor between the Palestinian area in Judea & Samaria and Gaza, under Palestinian control, albeit with Israeli sovereignty, will be stipulated. The route of the corridor, as well as overall engineering design, environmental impact and construction will be in accordance with Israeli laws and regulations;
- A six-month moratorium on residential building in areas of Judea & Samaria that are outside the “Greater Jerusalem Basin”;
- Designation of the “Greater Jerusalem Basin” to include all of 1948 Jerusalem, as well as the neighborhoods of Gilo, Har Homa, East Talpiyot, Ramat Eshkol, French Hill, Ramat Shlomo, Ramat Allon, Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Ya’akov, the Etzion Bloc and the Great Ma’ale Adumim area. The Arab villages of Anata, Hizma, Ar-Ram, Az-Za’ayyem, Sur Bahir and Al-Balad should be excluded from the Basin, as should the settlement of Atarot. This will ensure a contiguous area within the Greater Jerusalem Basin.
Additional points that might considered under this include establishing:
- Performing a census of the population;
- Issuing special identity cards for the population;
- Establishing regulatory mechanisms for the administration of 1) Antiquities & Archeology, 2) Residential building, 3) Commercial building, 4) Education, 5) Energy, 6) Environment, 7) Telecommunications, 8) Tourism, 9) Transportation, 10) Labor and Social Affairs, 11) Justice, 12) Freedom of access to religious sites, 13) Industrial regulation, 14) a Coordinating Administration responsible for the overall functioning of the other areas listed.
- Security will be under the exclusive domain of the Israeli government.
- A plebiscite to be held in six months, in which all persons of voting age with a valid Greater Jerusalem Basin identity card will participate, to decide as to whether the Greater Jerusalem Basin will be under full Israeli sovereignty or continue to exist as outlined above.
- Removal from the jurisdiction of the UN General Assembly any and all questions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and transfer of responsibility for said consideration to the UN Security Council. Israel-Palestinian issues shall also be removed from the agenda of all other bodies of the UN and UN-affiliated bodies, such as the International Labor Organization, Red Cross and UN Human Rights Commission.
The Palestinians must recognize the “Right of Return” as a non-starter. If the areas that the Palestinian Authority is claiming sovereignty over in the Judea & Samaria, a.k.a. the West Bank are to be free of Jewish settlements – in other words, Judenrein – then the Palestinians must accept the fact that mass immigration into Israel is not politically acceptable. In order to spur accept of this fact, the UN must dismantle UNRWA (by far the UN’s greatest failure in terms of managing refugees).
The Israeli government tomorrow could propose this. Similarly, the Israeli government could wait until September and propose this as a resolution in the UN General Assembly. Overall, a resolution of this sort would represent an achievement for Israeli diplomacy. Such a resolution – sponsored by Israel – would simultaneously create a separate identity for Jerusalem and at the same time ensure its indivisibility. It would enshrine the democratic principle of “one-man, one-vote,” while at the same time pre-empting Palestinian attempts to alter demographic realities. It would also give the Palestinians victories to in terms of Jerusalem and settlements.
Such a resolution – sponsored by Israel – would effectively eliminate the Quartet, the UN General Assembly and subsidiary bodies of the UN from initiating one-sided diplomatic and political proposals. This would compel both sides to the negotiating table. If not, a new status quo will be established – one given the imprimatur of the UN. If the Palestinians refuse to return to the negotiating table, Israel can still hold the Jerusalem plebiscite. Given that Arabs – both Christian and Muslim – currently living in the area already prefer Israeli rule, the outcome of the plebiscite will confer legitimacy on continued Israeli sovereignty, albeit in a different legal context.
Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh wrote a piece that appeared in the paper’s on-line edition on November 8th entitled “Abbas’s big bluff” in which he analyzes Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to hold new presidential and parliamentary elections January 24th as one of his strangest moves since succeeding Yasser Arafat five years ago. It might seem strange, but actually, it is quite consistent with the character and quality of Palestinian leadership.
Simply stated, the Palestinian leadership is devoid of quality and utterly lacking in character. It is a cancer on the Palestinian people (who really don’t seem to care that they have a cancer), and on the Middle East.
This should come as no surprise to anyone. Fatah and Hamas, vying for leadership of this stillborn entity, are stocked from bottom to top with murderers, thugs, thieves and liars. Even the communist parties that ruled the USSR and its satellites during the Cold War could boast of competent technocrats. Perhaps with the exception of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, the dictator who has driven one of the more prosperous countries of Africa into abject poverty and despair, there is not a less-skilled group of “leaders” in the world.
As Toameh points out, Hamas has already made it clear that it won’t participate in the elections. It has declared that it won’t allow the vote to take place in the Gaza Strip and would punish any Palestinian there who is involved. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, let alone Mahmoud Abbas. As far as Hamas is concerned, there was an election, they won, why bother having another?
If the elections take place as planned, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will become even more politically estranged than they already are. As Hamas legislator, Salah Bardaweel explained: “Abbas will then become the mayor or governor of the West Bank.”
Abbas’s decision to call the new elections came after the Egyptians failed to broker an agreement between Hamas and Fatah. The two rival parties were supposed to sign a “reconciliation” accord in Cairo last month. Hamas backed out at the last minute: better to rule in Gaza than serve in Ramallah. Toameh states that Abbas would be best served by maintaining the status quo, which allows him at least to argue that he’s a democratically-elected president.
However, most educated people in the world have come to realize that “Arab democracy” is an oxymoron. Israeli politicians should stop their hand wringing and just tell Abbas: resign, go into retirement, and write your memoirs. We’ll handle things.
There is an old saying, “Every people gets the leaders it deserves.” If this is true, one has to wonder what dark stain the Palestinians have on their political souls that have cursed them live with the so-called leadership of the PLO and Hamas. A quick examination reveals that they have followed murderers – plain and simple – murderers, and allowed themselves to be plundered by these so-called leaders.
The PLO – re-styled since the Oslo Accord of 1993 as the “Palestinian Authority” has had sixteen years to build a functioning government and state, but cannot even collect the garbage on time. The PLO’s princes of terror, ensconced in official positions and granting themselves titles as if they had already achieved their long-sought after state, have systematically looted foreign aid and ruined the economy of the West Bank. Hamas, on the other hand, has erased every sign of development, prosperity, hope and democracy from the area it controls, the Gaza Strip.
One certainly cannot say that the Palestinians are uninformed. Ironically, they enjoy a degree of freedom of the press unavailable to the rest of their Arab brethren. Hamas and the PLO operate rival cable television and radio networks that the average Palestinian has no trouble receiving. This, by the way, is thanks to the electricity that Israel supplies. The Palestinian Authority has failed to build a single power plant capable of supplying even the smallest village.
Likewise, Palestinians have access to dozens of newspapers. Each supports the position of one of the alphabet soup of political parties: DFLP, Hamas, PFLP, Fatah, etc. They even have access to Israeli and Jordanian newspapers on a daily basis, not to mention broadcasts from Israel and Jordan. It might be time-consuming to tease the facts out of the opinions, but this is a responsibility that a citizen – any citizen – must take upon himself: critical thinking. It cannot be delegated, subcontracted or outsourced.
Unfortunately, it would seem that critical thinking is not the Palestinian people’s strong suit. If it were, after sixteen years, one would think that they would reject the incompetence and plundering of the PLO. One would think that they would reject the murder and Islamizing (the two often go hand-in-hand), not to mention the international isolation, that Hamas has visited upon them.
People in East Germany, Romania, the Philippines and many other nations have risen up and forced out cruel despotic leaders. The Free World congratulated them, supported them and welcomed all these countries into the ranks of democratic nation-states. The Arab people, and the Palestinians in particular, seem to lack the moral courage to take it upon themselves and make the difficult decisions that come with liberty and self-governance.
BigMo is not a journalist, lawyer, politician or mutli-level marketeer. That’s at least four good reasons you should read this blog and share it with friends. Apoligies to all my legal-eagle & politician friends, LOL! He is a bit of a grouch, especially when he’s trying to quit smoking. His bark is worse than his bite, but his bite is not unsubstantial in and of itself. (Shout-out to G. for clarifying that “unsubstantial” is a word!) He is an unrepentant J-walker and addicted to caffeine (one of the four basic food groups).
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