I thought I closed this blog officially on 31 December 2010. [The book based on it: "One Year in the History of Israel and Palestine" was published on 1 June 2011]. However, the announcement of Wednesday, 6 April 2011 of the Israeli Peace Initiative was too significant a development to allow to pass unremarked. Accordingly, I exceptionally posted this additional piece. Since then I have been adding an occasional article as matters of particular interest have caught my attention.
What is the IPI?
• The Israeli Peace Initiative is a peace proposal launched by a group of public figures in Israel, including former generals and others.
• It presents itself as an Israeli response to the Arab Peace Initiative promoted by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the Arab League in 2002.
• It outlines the terms for final status agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, Syria, Lebanon, and the normalisation of relations between Israel and the rest of the Arab world.
The principles for peace in the document include:
> A Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank based on 1967 borders with 1:1 land swaps not exceeding 7% of the West Bank.
> Jerusalem shared as the capital of two states with special arrangements for shared sovereignty in the Old City.
> Refugees to receive financial compensation from the international community and Israel with the right of return only to a Palestinian state but with ‘with mutually agreed-upon symbolic exceptions.'
> Peace with Syria to be based on a staged Israeli withdrawal from the Golan and agreed security arrangements.
> Peace with Lebanon based on existing borders and Lebanon exercising ‘full sovereignty over its territory through the Lebanese army.'
> Regional security arrangements and economic cooperation based on the creation of a ‘Middle East Economic Development Bloc'.
> The gradual normalisation of relations between Israel and Arab and Islamic states that would commence at the start of negotiations.
Who is behind it?
The initiative was launched by a group of public figures in Israel, who perceive the current deadlock in the peace process to be damaging for Israel. They include:
* Yaakov Peri - Former Shin Bet (Israeli internal security) chief
* Amram Mitzna - Retired IDF general and former leader of Israeli Labour party
* Danny Yatom - Former head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence service
* Amnon Lipkin Shahak - Former IDF Chief of Staff and former Knesset member
* Yuval and Dalia Rabin - Children of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
* Adina Bar Shalom - Daughter of Shas Rabbi and spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef
* Professor Aliza Shenhar - President of Emek Yezreel College
* Idan Ofer - Israeli business mogul
Here is the Israeli Peace Initiative in full:
The Israeli Peace Initiative (IPI)
in response to the Arab Peace Initiative (API)
Proposal - April 6, 2011
The State of Israel,
*Reaffirming that Israel's strategic objective is to reach a historic compromise and permanent status agreements that shall determine the finality of all claims and the end of the Israeli Arab conflict, in order to achieve permanent and lasting peace, lasting and guaranteed security, regional economic prosperity and normal ties with all Arab and Islamic states,
*Recognizing the suffering of the Palestinian refugees since the 1948 war as well as of the Jewish refugees from the Arab countries, and realizing the need to resolve the Palestinian refugees problem through realistic and mutually agreed-upon solutions,
*Realizing that wide-scale multilateral economic cooperation is essential in order to ensure the prosperity of the Middle East, its environmental sustainability and the future of its peoples,
*Recognizing the Arab Peace Initiative of March 2002 (API) as a historic effort made by the Arab states to reach a breakthrough and achieve progress on a regional basis, and sharing the API statement that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties,
Therefore Israel accepts the API as a framework for regional peace negotiations and presents the IPI as an integrated response to the API, and as a vision of the regional final-status agreements to be negotiated and signed between the Arab states, the Palestinians and Israel, based on the following proposed principles:
1) CONFLICT RESOLUTION PRINCIPLES
The key principle of all regional peace agreements shall be Israeli withdrawals, guaranteed security, normal relations and end of all conflicts, while recognizing the security needs of all parties, the water resources challenges, the demographic realities on the ground, and the interests and needs of the followers of the three monotheistic faiths;
Furthermore, the Israeli Palestinian conflict shall be resolved on the principle of two states for two nations: Palestine as a nation state for the Palestinians and Israel as a nation state for the Jews (in which the Arab minority will have equal and full civil rights as articulated in Israel's Declaration of Independence). On this basis, the following parameters are proposed:
1a) Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Resolution Parameters
1. Statehood and Security
A sovereign independent Palestinian state shall be formed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on territories from which Israel withdrew. The state shall be demilitarized, exercising full authority over its internal security forces. The International community shall play an active role in providing border security and curbing terrorist threats.
The borders shall be based on the June 4, 1967, lines, with agreed modifications subject to the following principles: the creation of territorial contiguity between the Palestinian territories; land swaps (not to exceed 7% of the West Bank) based on a 1:1 ratio, including the provision of a safe corridor between the West Bank and Gaza, under de facto Palestinian control.
The greater Jerusalem area shall include the two capitals of the two states. The line shall be drawn so that: Jewish neighborhoods shall be under Israeli sovereignty; the Arab neighborhoods shall be under Palestinian sovereignty; special arrangements shall be implemented in the Old City, ensuring that the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall shall be under Israeli sovereignty; the Temple Mount shall remain under a special no-sovereignty regime ("God Sovereignty"), with special agreed-upon arrangements, ensuring that Islamic holy places shall be administered by the Moslem Waqf, and Jewish holy sites and interests shall be administered by Israel. The implementation of these arrangements will be supervised by an Israeli-International committee.
The solutions for the Palestinian refugees shall be agreed upon between Israel, the Palestinians and all regional parties in accordance with the following principles: Financial compensation shall be offered to the refugees and the host countries by the international community and Israel; the Palestinian refugees wishing to return (as mentioned in UNGAR 194*) may do so only to the Palestinian state, with mutually agreed-upon symbolic exceptions.
1b) Israeli-Syrian Conflict Resolution Parameters
Israel shall withdraw from the Golan to a border-line to be designed based on the June 4, 1967 status, with agreed minor modifications and land swaps based on a 1:1 ratio, reflecting the 1923 international border. The agreement shall be mutually implemented in stages, based on the Sinai model, over a period not to exceed 5 years.
2. Security Arrangements
A comprehensive security package shall be mutually agreed, defining, inter alia, the scope of demilitarized zones on both sides of the border and the deployment of peace keeping international forces.
1c) Israeli-Lebanese Conflict Resolution Parameters
1. Borders Israel and Lebanon shall establish permanent peace based on UNSCR 1701**, subject to which Israel concluded its withdrawal to the international border.
2. Lebanese Sovereignty
In addition to the full implementation of UNSCR 1701, Lebanon shall exercise full sovereignty over its territory through the Lebanese army.
1d) State of Peace
In each of the Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Syrian and the Israeli-Lebanese peace agreements the respective parties agree to apply between them the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law governing relations among states in time of peace; to settle all disputes between them by peaceful means; to develop good neighborly relations of co-operation between them to ensure lasting security; to refrain from the threat or use of force against each other and from forming any coalition, organization or alliance with a third party, the objectives or activities of which include launching aggression or hostility against the other party.
2) REGIONAL SECURITY PRINCIPLES
1. The parties will create regional security mechanisms, addressing shared threats and risks arising from states, terrorist organizations, marine pirate groups, and guerrilla organizations. to ensure the safety and security of the peoples of the region.
2. The parties shall build regional frameworks to jointly fight against crime and environmental threats.
3) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES
Based on significant economic support by the international community, the parties shall implement wide-scale regional cooperation projects in order to ensure the stabilization, viability and prosperity of the region, and to achieve optimal utilization of energy and water resources for the benefit of all parties. Such projects will improve transportation infrastructure, agriculture, industry and regional tourism, thus addressing the rising danger of unemployment in the region. In the future, the parties shall create the "Middle East Economic Development Bloc"(inviting all Middle Eastern countries to join), aiming at reaching a special status in the EU, the US and the International Community.
4) STEPS TOWARDS NORMAL RELATIONS PRINCIPLES
Israel, the Arab States and the Islamic States commit to implement gradual steps towards establishing normal relations between them, in the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative, which shall commence upon the launching of peace negotiations and shall be gradually upgraded to full normal relations (including diplomatic relations, open borders and economic ties) upon the signing of the permanent status agreements and throughout their implementation.
* United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194
was passed on December 11, 1948. It consists of 15 articles, the most quoted of which are:
Article 7: protection and free access to the Holy Places
Article 8: demilitarization and UN control over Jerusalem
Article 9: free access to Jerusalem
Article 11: the return of refugees
**United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701
was a resolution intended to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Approved by both the Lebanese and the Israeli Cabinets, the ceasefire came into effect on Monday, 14 August 2006.