What Should be Done Now

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I have been requested to provide some constructive ideas on what I would do if I was in charge now. I have always tried to be constructive and offer suggestions to policy makers. I know that I do not bear the weight of responsibility and it is much easier to offer suggestions than to take responsibility. Nonetheless, I have written what I would do if I had the authority and responsibility to do so. I take for granted that much of what I suggest here is not acceptable to the leadership of Israel or to the Israeli people. Some of what I suggest here will also not be supported by many Palestinians. I have taken a shot at it. If I did have the responsibility, I would of course, consult with a wide group of people – something that I did not do here.

What I have attempted to do is to overcome the present obstacles that are real. I have also tried to build into the plan elements that were absent during the Oslo Process – specifically elements for verification, enforcement and dispute resolution that are not merely dependent on the good will of the sides – something that does not exist and must be rebuilt.

I have also taken for granted that we need to rebuild constituencies for peace on both sides. Additionally, I believe that we cannot advance without the help of third parties.

Strategic Interests of Israel

Securing a peace treaty with the Palestinians that will guarantee the long-term security of the State of Israel

Securing peace treaties with as many as the surrounding Arab countries as possible

Strengthening the democratic nature and characteristics of Israel

Insuring that the State of Palestine will be democratic

Ending terrorism

Insuring economic growth and integration into global markets

Bringing back international investments to the Israeli economy

Investing in human and physical infrastructures inside of Israel

My Working Assumptions

No real progress can be made in peacemaking efforts without real democratic reforms in the Palestinian territories that entail political, economic and security reforms.

The Israeli public will not accept any strategic deal with the Palestinians as long as Arafat is the Palestinian leader.

There are leaders on the Palestinian side who are interested in ending the violence and getting back to the negotiating table.

There is a need for international involvement in negotiating with the Palestinians and the Arab world.

There is a need for international presence in a multiplicity of roles of peace keepers, buffers, observers, and dispute resolvers insuring the mechanisms for verification, enforcement and dispute resolution.

Economic development and real economic opportunities are a critical factor in any peace settlement with the Palestinians.

Movements towards peace with the Palestinians will create deep rifts and conflicts within Israeli society.

Large amounts of money will be required to secure any peace arrangements including funds for re-settling settlers, and funds for refugees as well as funds for security needs and requirements.

The best peace arrangements should be regional and should include the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon.

Egypt and Jordan can be strategic allies in securing peace with the Palestinians.

Deep political, social and religious cleavages within Israeli society need to be addressed through social, political and economic reforms. These cleavages will deepen as a result of a real peace process and must be dealt with through inclusive policies and decision making. Recreating a peace process with the Palestinians and the Arab world will be very painful for much of the Israeli public and must be undertaken with great care and attention to the real needs, fears and aspirations of all sectors of Israeli society. Nonetheless, extremists inside of Israel must be isolated and denied the right to hold the rest of the country hostage to their extremism.

Goals of Plan

The provide a political horizon for ending the violence and getting back to the negotiating table.

To facilitate and encourage the processes of security, political and economic reform in the Palestinian Authority.

To strengthen the weight of Palestinian leaders who are interested in democratic reform, ending the violence and getting back to the negotiating table.

To isolate the extremists on the Palestinian amongst the Palestinian people.

To rebuild a public constituency for peace in Israel and in Palestine.

To end Palestinian incitement against peace and to see instituted in Palestinian real peace education.

Actions

The first element of the plan is to issue a declaration of intentions by the Government of Israel. This declaration must include the following elements:

The State of Israel is interested and willing to move forward towards real peace with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon once the violence has come to an end.

The vision of peace in the eyes of the Government of Israel includes the creation of a Palestinian state along the lines of the Arab League (Saudi) Plan including Israeli withdrawal to agreed upon borders, territorial exchange, a shared capital in Jerusalem and resolution of the refugee problem within the framework of an international agreement, with the right of return implemented within the Palestinian state, compensation and resettlement funds provided by the international community with the participation of the State of Israel.

Peace agreement with Syria on the basis of the negotiations already held in the past from the point where they ended between PM Barak and Hafez el Asad.

An Israeli willingness and invitation for an international presence in the territories along with agreed upon mandates led by a US Army force.

The State of Israel will declare that it will be ready to enter into negotiations with a responsible newly elected Palestinian leadership following an Israeli assessment that the Palestinian leadership is making 100% efforts to end the violence. In order for that to happen, Israel will immediately withdraw from Areas “A” following which time, in full coordination with the IDF and with a US led security team, Palestinian police will deploy within the cities.

The Palestinian police, under a unified command, will disarm all militia, including Hamas, Jihad and Fatah forces. Captured weapons will be turned over to the US led command. A US led international force will serve as inspectors with full rights and responsibility to inspect all locations within the Palestinian territories for weapons or workshops and factories for the production of weapons. The international inspectors will have the right and authority to confiscate illegal weapons and the means of production of illegal weapons.

A limited Palestinian security force will be armed only with hand guns. Israel and the US will determine CC=&hmarks for implementation of this process that will be publicized to the public and reported to Israel and the Palestinian commander in charge of the force. Once this process has been completed to the satisfaction of Israel and the US Command, the Palestinians will conduct new elections for a legislative council, a President and a Prime Minister who will appoint a new Palestinian cabinet.

Once the Palestinians have successfully implemented the new security plan and reforms, involving the confiscation of weapons, and international inspectors are in place and working, and not earlier than six months following the satisfactory implementation of the security plan, Israel will agree to implement further redeployments transferring in two steps all Areas “B” to full Palestinian control (area “A” status) and as much contiguous Palestinian territory as possible. The maps will be presented to the Palestinians within three months from the beginning of the implementation of the security plan.

Prior to this redeployment, a US led international force will take positions in the West Bank and Gaza. The foreign troops will not take up any positions on the Israeli side of the borders. Israel will still have full responsibility and right to protect its own citizens, in the settlements as well as inside of Israel.

At this point, Israel will also complete the full disbanding of all of the “illegal” outposts (105 in number) that have been constructed in the past 18 months. Israel will also freeze all building in all settlements including all by-pass roads.

Until a new economic agreement has been negotiated, and after the implementation of the security and economic reforms, Israel and the Palestinians will re-implement all of the measures of the Paris economic protocol, including measures of free trade, secure and free movement of goods, the re-instatement of up to 60,000 Palestinian laborers in Israel (after proper security checks by the Israelis), and the transfer of all Customs and VAT money through the Palestinian treasury with US supervision of those funds.

Six months after the election of a new Palestinian government, negotiations will commence for permanent status. These negotiations will last no longer than one year. Representatives of the US President will be appointed as mediators and will actively engage in mediation and problem solving in the negotiations. The negotiations will start based on the Arab League plan and will include a multi-lateral political element in which full peace agreements and full normalization will be negotiated with the Member states of the Arab League. These negotiations will be supervised by the Quartet (the US, the EU, Russia and the UN Secretary General). The final conclusion of these multi-lateral political negotiations will be dependent on the successful conclusion of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Additional Elements

Israel will agree and propose the establishment of a Rapid Response Force composed of troops from Israel, the US led Multinational Force and the Palestinian police (which can also be called a national guard but will be armed with hand gun only). The RRF will be headed by a US General with a shared command with an Israeli officer with the rank of Aluf and a senior Palestinian police or national guard commander. This RRF command will be a single operating unit and located in a single command center.

Israel will encourage and facilitate the active involvement of the heads of the Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence services in the reform of the Palestinian security, together with the US CIA and other acceptable intelligence commands.

Israel and the Palestinians will normalize their relations through the auspices of a civilian "peace administration" not controlled by the Israeli military or the Palestinian national guard or police. This "peace administration" will coordinate the cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian civilian governmental ministries in areas such as environmental cooperation, water, agriculture, tourism, economic development, etc.

An Israeli-Palestinian-International media watch group will be appointed to monitor the Israeli and Palestinian media, official and private, regarding incitement. The media watch will produce monthly reports as well as periodic reports when findings warrant immediate action. The agreement of the Palestinians to these "rules of the game" are a precondition for beginning permanent status negotiations.

An Israeli-Palestinian and US led international team will be mandated to present proposals for the tasks that third party military and civilian forces will play. . Some of these functions will include:

Creating a human buffer zone between Israeli and Palestinian forces

Supervising Israeli withdrawals

Facilitating security cooperation between the sides in the fight against terrorism

Involvement in the control and management of border crossings both between Israel and Palestine and between Palestine and the outside world

Dispute resolution functions – mediation and arbitration of disputes

Verification of implementation of agreements

Amongst the specific tasks to be developed include the following:

The general roles and tasks of peacekeepers

Buffers

Issues concerning external Palestinian borders

Issues concerning the borders between Israel and Palestine

Issues concerning tri-lateral concerns – Israel-Palestine-Jordan, Israel-Palestine-Egypt

On site inspection inside of Palestine

Tri-lateral security possibilities (Israel-Palestine-international forces)

Security ops of third parties in Jerusalem

An office of a kind of political ombudsman would be established within the Prime Minister’s office to advance public involvement in the peace process. This office would be equipped to receive and respond to suggestions of citizens, NGO’s, think-tanks, etc. A mechanism for public transparency would be added to encourage public debate and thinking about the most important decisions that State of Israel has to make.

The Government of Israel will establish in cooperation with the Palestinian leadership and the EU a secretariat for a public peace process encouraging civil society cooperation between Israelis, Palestinians and civil society groups in the Arab world. This secretariat would have the facilities and budget to launch a significant public peace process.

Gershon Baskin, Ph.D., is Co-Director of Israel / Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), a joint Palestinian-Israeli public policy think-tank, founded in Jerusalem in 1988.

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