A Referendum to Leverage Peace in the Middle East


The trust between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly the current leaderships, has deteriorated to a point where they have become intractable partners for peace. The issues that divide are well documented and debated. What is required from both sides is so painful one must wonder if the current leaderships are capable of moving the process to a just final conclusion. It cannot be expected that the process and necessary concessions for peace are possible without considerable third party involvement, what some call an internationalizing of the issue.

From the Israeli perspective they want genuine security which means an end to attacks on their people.

From the Palestinian perspective they want a just end to their occupation which requires a political process.

The end result of a final status agreement is likely to be a referendum for both communities to accept or reject, as envisaged by former President Clinton proceeding the 2000 Camp David talks. By reaffirming the idea of a referendum as the end game, the following effects could take place:

Provide Palestinians a political process as an alternative to violence against Israelis.

Open the way for a genuine ceasefire allowing international security forces to assist in keeping the peace.

Stimulate the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships and partners1 to discuss the content of a final status agreement.

International peace supporters1 could use the idea of a referendum to leverage the Palestinian Authority by backing a process that would offer a genuine incentive for a ceasefire. This could be verified by international monitors. On verification of the ceasefire, international security forces would have an opening to assist in keeping the peace. By then, providing the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships with a timeline for a referendum, being reasonable in time which allows for successful debate on a final status agreement and content for a referendum.

We must start with a vision of the end game and work our way back.

Requirements for a referendum:

Concerted International1 pressure, with a clear vision for the process.

The support of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships for its process and outcome.

Multilateral support from the Arab League, United Nations and other peace supporters. [1]

A timeline for the process.

A verifiable ceasefire.

Multilateral negotiations on a final status agreement.

A referendum to be passed with a majority by both Israeli and Palestinian voters.

Proposed points of discussion for the content of a referendum

The following proposed points are based on the premise of the Arab League Peace Initiative (Saudi sponsored), 2000 Camp David talks (Oslo Peace Process), ICO (International Crisis Group) April report and United Nations Security Council Resolutions. These points include:

Establishment of a Palestinian State alongside the Israeli State. [2]

Full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967.[3], [4], [5]

Palestinian Sovereignty of East Jerusalem except Western Wall which will be Israeli sovereignty.[3], [4]

United Nations security forces controlling, allowing for a undivided and open city.

A non-militarized Palestinian State.

The disarming and de-militarizing of groups pursuing the destruction of Israel.

Removal of all Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Compensation for Palestinian Refugees.[3], [4]

The Arab League Nations will: [5]

Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over and to enter into a peace treaty with Israel to consolidate this.

Achieve comprehensive peace for all the states of the region.

Establish normal relations with Israel.


When there was a political process, the Palestinian Authority was able to largely suppress violence against Israelis, as their people saw hope in negotiations. This was never more highlighted during the year leading to final status talks with no Israelis killed at the hands of Palestinian militants or terrorists. This can be directly attributed to the hope of the people in a political process leading them into final status talks. With no political process available to them, many are left without hope and some seek the alternative to peace, violence.

Israeli public opinion showed in a recent poll [6] that although a majority supports the actions of their Government, they also support with a majority the recent Saudi peace initiative. Therefore reaffirming the idea of a referendum for the two communities, would provide stimulus to the intransigence of the current leaderships and promote the democratic will.

I hope that the people of the Middle East can live in peace and security. I pass my ideas onto anyone who cares to listen and adopt or evolve.


[1] U.S., United Nations, European Union and Russia.

[2] United Nations Security Council Resolution # 1397 (2002).

[3] United Nations Security Council Resolution # 242 (1967).

[4] United Nations Security Council Resolution # 338 (1973).

[5] Arab League Peace Initiative (Saudi sponsored), 28th of March 2002.

[6] 52% of Israelis support the Saudi peace initiative (Arab League Peace Initiative) as polled in Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on the 12th of April 2002. 57% support unilateral separation, a dividing fence and annexation of 20% of occupied territories.