Archive for the ‘Peace Plans’ Category


This article was originally published at LobeLog.Kerry Bibi

US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Israel on Jan. 2, starting 2014 with an attempt to save what is increasingly looking like a doomed round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

 

The grim atmosphere was reinforced immediately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s words of welcome to Kerry. Netanyahu spent all of two sentences doing this before he said: “I know that you’re committed to peace, I know that I’m committed to peace, but unfortunately, given the actions and words of Palestinian leaders, there’s growing doubt in Israel that the Palestinians are committed to peace.” (more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

When it comes to the tedious dance between the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the more things change, the

Shimon Peres, John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in May 2013

Shimon Peres, John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in May 2013

more they stay the same. As 2013 draws to a close, we have another proof of that cliché.

As 2013 dawned, President Barack Obama began his second term, and Benjamin Netanyahu — whose horse in the US race, Mitt Romney, had lost decisively — was winning re-election but embarking on a very difficult set of talks to cobble together a governing coalition in Israel. As there always is with a second-term US president, there was some speculation that Obama might decide to damn the torpedoes of domestic politics and put some moderate pressure on Israel to compromise. Despite some illusions, by the end of the year it became clear that this wasn’t happening.

A little less than a year ago, John Kerry was named Secretary of State and vowed not only to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians but to bring them to a conclusion. Few believed he could get the two sides talking again, but Kerry managed it and thereby breathed a bit of life into Washington groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now who have staked their existence to the fading hope of a two-state solution. But even fewer objective observers believed Kerry could actually fulfill the second part of his pledge, and as 2013 comes to an end, all the evidence points to the vindication of that pessimistic view. (more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the outset of a meeting focused on the Middle East peace process in Bethlehem, West Bank, on November 6, 2013. US Dept. of State/Public Domain

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the outset of a meeting focused on the Middle East peace process in Bethlehem, West Bank, on November 6, 2013. US Dept. of State/Public Domain

 

There is an odd sort of atmosphere today around the soon-to-fail Israel-Palestine talks. A dramatic gesture by the United States, presenting its own security plans to both Israel and the Palestinians, has engendered mostly yawns. Yet the events of recent days have clarified the likely results of these talks, despite the ongoing secrecy around them.

Secretary of State John Kerry has apparently proposed that Israel agree to abandon the Jordan Valley (constituting some 20% of the West Bank and situated in Area C, which falls under complete Israeli control under the current arrangement) in stages over an extended period of time and subject to the “good behavior” of the Palestinians. The current plan seems to be that Israeli forces would remain in the Jordan Valley for ten years while Palestinian forces are “trained.”

Not surprisingly, the Palestinians, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas disapprove of this idea. But they do so in lukewarm terms, not wanting to offend Kerry, with the hope that when the April deadline for the current round of talks rolls around that the Palestinian side will not, as it was in 2000, be portrayed as the party who refused peace. Still, as former US President Jimmy Carter once told me, a continued Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley is unacceptable to the Palestinians. Indeed, it is impossible to say that an occupation has ended when the occupying army is still there. That should be obvious. (more…)

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In the American Prospect today, Gershom Gorenberg raises the key argument against a one-state solution: that nationalism is too strong

Gershom Gorenberg

Gershom Gorenberg

on both the Jewish and Palestinian side for them to reasonably exist in a single state.

I agree with much of Gershom’s argument. But it is worth pointing something out, something I have been arguing forcefully about in my series of three articles this week (see them here, here and here). It is summed up in Gershom’s closing paragraph:

“The challenge to one-staters is to explain how two national groups, Jews and Palestinians, will peacefully put together a single state, live together in that state, and prevent it from ripping apart. Expecting that their nationalism will disappear is even less realistic than expecting the gold, red and blue flag to vanish from Catalonia.”

Yes, that is the challenge to one-staters. But where is the challenge to two-staters to explain how a Palestinian state with full sovereignty (meaning the right to self-defense and a total absence of Israeli forces in its territory), viability (where the area is not broken up by settlement blocs like Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim), connection between the West Bank and Gaza, a capital in East Jerusalem, and an acceptable resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue (which is both a human rights issue and a central issue in the very Palestinian nationalism Gershom discusses) is to be achieved under the two-state formula.

Oslo fails on all of those points. Yet somehow, for Gershom and many other sincere two-staters who recognize the need for Palestinian freedom and are not only concerned about Israeli security, this challenge does not have the same force as the one they bring up for one-staters. In my series, I explained why this is—because two-states has an international consensus behind it, arrived at by circumstance, happenstance and a 40-year old Palestinian decision, but not because it was necessarily the best path, while one state solutions have no political backing.

But the message for Gershom, Jeremy Ben-Ami and other purportedly pragmatic two-staters is how we get to a truly workable resolution if we begin from a point where we discount some possibilities because they have serious problems while ignoring problems of at least equal magnitude in other solutions simply because the latter is the path preferred by those enforcing an unhelpful and no longer viable consensus.

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In the last of three pieces, starting with an article at LobeLog earlier this week and one at this site yesterday, I look at the need for advocacy for various one-state formulations to be part of the discourse around resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. I argue that, even for two-staters, there is an absolute need to broaden the discussion, to get to a better idea than the failed Oslo one, but that this won’t be possible unless some leadership, probably Palestinian though it could be Israeli too, is willing to advocate a one-state solution. That’s what is missing now, and what needs to emerge and just might be doing so.  Check it out in Souciant this week.

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I’ll be writing a follow-up to my piece from earlier this week about the various one- and two-state formulations shortly, where I’ll be

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, champion of the two-state solution

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, champion of the two-state solution

focusing more on the one-state side. But today, I saw a very important example of one of the problems in the two-state crowd, especially from the Israeli side.

The Middle East Policy Council put on a very interesting panel about the future or lack thereof of the two-state solution. The leading two-stater on the panel was Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street. Let me say that I like Jeremy, and I think he and J Street come in for criticism from the left that is often over the top and much too harsh (and, I’ll admit, sometimes I’ve been guilty of that myself). I’ve known Jeremy for the better part of a decade and I am convinced his heart is in the right place and that on balance, J Street has done good work.

On this particular panel, Jeremy defended the two-state solution in various ways, and I found some of them problematic. He echoed the “pragmatic” view that the two-state option, and particularly the Oslo formulation is the only viable option, and sometimes implied that those who advocated some other option were naïve and utopian thinkers. But he made one point that I think reflects a deeply problematic mode of thought in even the most progressive pro-Israel thinking. (more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, champion of the two-state solution

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, champion of the two-state solution

In a debate recorded by the Institute for Palestine Studies, human rights lawyer Noura Erakat squares off with Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, about the current peace talks and the prospects of a two-state solution. There was a lot in the exchange that was interesting, and it’s worth your viewing. But one point in particular caught my attention. (more…)

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