Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thought Experiment: Two Treaty Provisions

A thought experiment, my final word on the Harper's piece for now. Who among current leaders could possibly agree to, say, "permanent residence" for Jews in Palestine, or an international commission to deal with the Palestinian right of return? Is the approach in the piece realistic? I thought I might try to make things clearer, and more challenging, by posting suggested wording for the two relevant clauses of a final status agreement:

1. Subsequent to the establishment of the Independent State of Palestine and its recognition by the State of Israel...
a. There will be no exclusive civilian residential areas for Israelis in the State of Palestine.
b. Individual Israelis remaining within the borders of the Palestinian State shall be subject to Palestinian sovereignty and Palestinian rule of law.
c. Individual Israelis who have their permanent domicile within the Palestinian State as of [negotiated date] shall be offered Palestinian citizenship or choose to remain as alien residents, all without prejudice to their Israeli citizenship.
d. Within the agreed schedule for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territories, the Israeli Government and its security forces shall maintain responsibility for the safety and security of Israeli settlements outside the areas of Palestinian security jurisdiction, pending the transfer of said areas to full Palestinian rule.
e. The parties shall establish the mechanism for dealing with security issues relating to Israeli citizens in Palestine and Palestinian citizens in Israel...
Right of Return
1. Whereas the Palestinian side considers that the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes is enshrined in international law and natural justice, it recognizes that the prerequisites of the new era of peace and coexistence, as well as the realities that have been created on the ground since 1948, have rendered the implementation of this right impracticable [in most cases...] [State target number allowed to return]. The Palestinian side, thus, declares its readiness to accept and implement policies and measures that will ensure, insofar as this is possible, the welfare and well-being of these refugees.

2. Whereas the Israeli side acknowledges the moral and material suffering caused to the Palestinian people as a result of the war of 1947-1949. It further acknowledges the Palestinian refugees' right of return to the Palestinian state and their right to compensation and rehabilitation for moral and material losses.

3. The parties agree on the establishment of an International Commisssion for Palestinian Refugees (hereinafter "the ICPR") for the final settlement of all aspects of the refugee issue as follows:
a. The Parties extend invitations to donor countries to join them in the formation of the ICPR. b. The Parties welcome the intention of the Government of [neutral European country] to lead the ICPR and to contribute financially to its activities. c. The Government of Israel shall establish a fund for its contribution, along with others, to the activities of the ICPR. d. The ICPR shall conduct all fundraising activities and coordinate donors' involvement in the program. e. The ICPR shall define the criteria for compensation accounting for:
(1)  moral loss; (2)  immovable property; (3) financial and economic support enabling resettlement and rehabilitation of Palestinians residing in refugee camps.
f. The ICPR shall further:
(1)  adjudicate claims for material loss; (2)   prepare and develop rehabilitation and absorption programs; (3) establish the mechanisms and venues for disbursing payments and compensation; (4)  oversee rehabilitation programs; (5)  explore the intentions of Palestinian refugees on the one hand and of Arab and other countries on the other, concerning wishes for emigration and the possibilities thereof; (6)  explore with Arab governments hosting refugee populations, as well as with these refugees, venues for absorption in these countries whenever mutually desired.
g. The ICPR shall implement all the above according to the agreed schedule...
4. The ICPR shall be guided by the following principles in dealing with the "refugees of 1948" and their descendants:
a.  Each refugee family shall be entitled to compensation for moral loss to a sum of money to be agreed upon by the ICPR. b. Each claimant with proven immovable property shall be compensated as per the adjudication of the ICPR. c. The ICPR shall provide financial and economic support, enabling the resettlement and rehabilitation of Palestinians residing in refugee camps. d. The refugees shall be entitled to financial and economic support from the ICPR for resettlement and rehabilitation.
5. The State of Israel undertakes to participate actively in implementing the program for the resolution of the refugee problem. Israel will continue to enable family reunification and will absorb Palestinian refugees in special defined cases, to be agreed upon with the ICPR.

6. The Palestinian side undertakes to participate actively in implementing the program for the resolution of the refugee problem. The Palestinian side shall enact a program to encourage the rehabilitation and resettlement of Palestinian refugees presently resident in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, within these areas.

7. The PLO considers the implementation of the above a full and final settlement of the refugee issue in all its dimensions...

Of course no Palestinian or Israeli official could accept these provisions, right? Actually, I lifted them directly from the Yossi Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement of 1995, which was meant to serve as the basis for negotiation between Rabin and Arafat, but was tragically sent into eclipse by the Rabin assassination. Oh, and that's Abu Mazen as in Mahmoud Abbas, the current head of the PA, the man who is desperately trying to hold off Hamas with diplomatic movement and state-building; the man the current Israeli government and its hallelujah chorus in America--along with various pundits who think two-states are for "liberal Zionist" dinosaurs--seem eager to discredit.


Y. Ben-David said...

(1) No mention of Jewish property lost in the Palestinian areas after 1948 inluding much property in east Jerusalem, Hevron, Gaza, Gush Etzion, etc.
(2) No mention of Jewish property lost in the Arab countries that persecuted their Jews in the wake of the creation of the state of Israel, creating more Jewish refugees than there were Palestinian refugees.
(3) The "Beilin-Abu Mazen" agreement apparently never had any formal status. It was another 'non-paper' of the type of trial balloons advocating Israeli capitulation on vital issues that Yossi Beilin is so fond of. Where is peacemaker Beilin today?
(4) Why did the Rabin assassination supposedly bury the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement? Why couldn't have Arafat bring it up in his negotiations with Barak in 2000-2001 or Abu Mazen HIMSELF offer it in his negotiations with Olmert? Dr Avishai is bringing it as supposedly the "tragic victim" of the Rabin Assassination which could have saved the peace process instead of what it really was....a non-starter?

Potter said...

Good Gracious! This is long long overdue! My heart is weeping.

Potter said...

Ben-David: Why? why? why?-- and Sharon? and Netanyahu?

Your points are either insubstantial or can be resolved with the will to do so.

David said...

Bernard, the problem with your suggestions (or, in this case, with verbiage from old negotiations) is that it's all too reasonable. This problem has not festered for forty years because no reasonable ideas were available. It has festered because no reasonable people were. And now, more than ever, Israel has no interest in being reasonable. All this reasonability is for naught. We now must simply wait until a demographic tidal wave washes over the Jewish "democracy" and turns it into a secular or (who knows?) another Islamic state.

jeffj said...

Y. Ben-David:

You are quite good at arguing over assigning blame for what is in the past. A lot of good that does anyone though. Each of your arguments has counter arguments on the Palestinian side. There is no point adding up the death tolls (because that would make Israel look bad), or calculating the total economic opportunity costs suffered, or trying to come to an exact quantitative tit-for-tat balance.

Here is the important question that should be foremost in the minds all people of good conscience: what is the situation today, and what is the path forward?

Today Israel is strong, prosperous, and Israelis have economic and political freedom. Palestinians are struggling to accomplish these things and are thwarted by a wall on their property and restrictions imposed by Israeli occupying forces.

Who is David, and who is Goliath today?

If the Israeli right should succeed in this transparent protracted strategy of waiting for Greater Israel to become a fait accompli, the world will seek to destroy Israel for it.

If Israel can find the moral generosity to use it's relative strength to accomplish a just two-state balanced compromise, and to drop the endless arguing over the moral balance sheet of years gone by, then it will survive and continue to be the great nation the world has with much satisfaction watched bloom in those harsh and arid lands.

Y. Ben-David said...

The "David and Goliath" metaphor isn't relevant. The weak aren't always right and the strong aren't always wrong. In World War II, the Axis Powers were the weak, and the Allies were the strong.
In any event, it is the ARABS who reject the "2-state solution". Condoleeza Rice wrote in her memoirs that Abbas was not interested in reaching an agreement with Olmert although on territorial issues the two sides weren't supposedly that far apart. Abbas went through the motions because he didn't want to alienate the Americans but he also didn't want to be blamed for the failure to reach an agreement. That is why he insists on pre-conditions today in order to avoid negotiations.

I know it is popular for Westerners to keep saying "forget about the past and let's move forward" but for the Arab side IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PAST. The Arabs, unlike Americans, and particularly unlike Western Jews are a people with a keen sense of history and a feeling that they are in tune with a great destiny. Because of that, the existence of a Jewish state within ANY borders is abhorrent to them. True, it is possible to arrive a temporary cease fires with Israel, as Jordan, Egypt and the PA have done, but it is clear that these are meant to ONLY be temporary and mererly for the purpose of weakening the Zionist enemy and strengthening themselves, just as Muhammed did in his time.
I suggest you read what the Arabs say IN ARABIC about how they view the Arab-Israeli conflict instead of looking at it through Western rose-colored glasses. Look at the election results in Egypt and Tunisia. That shows the true direction the Arab countries are going and it is NOT in the direction that says "let's forget the past".

jeffj said...

Y. Ben-David:

Even if I take every point you make as granted, I don't see how it makes Israel wiser for implementing illiberal and undemocratic laws that discriminate against Arab Israelis, or by continuing to infringe on Palestinian property rights and liberties in the West Bank.

If Greater Israel is established and the Israeli government continues shifting in the direction of Jewish theocracy and away from being a democratic refuge for those of Jewish ancestry, how exactly does that strengthen the position of Israel?

Let's say you are correct in mistrusting the motives of Arabs in general. Even if Israel were to push every Arab Muslim out of the West Bank and force them to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. How will that strengthen Israel?

By continuing to confirm the deepest fears that Israel will always be a source of injustice and suffering for Arabs, you play into the hands of those who wish to perpetrate violence against Israel.

If Israel respected the property rights of West Bank Arabs, and used it's resources to create conditions for a Palestinian state, and engaged in peaceful relations and strong economic ties with the new state, don't you think that would take the wind out of the sails of any jihadist anti-Israel rhetoric, and strengthen the support for Israel in the international community?

I don't see how this weakens Israel. It places Israel on the moral high ground, and provides justification for strong retaliation against any renewed violence against Israel on the part of Arabs. It provides cover for moderate Arabs to openly support peace with Israel.

As it stands it appears that some substantial portion of Israel is committed to perpetual domination and annexation of the West Bank. This only throws fuel on the fire of Arab rage, and invites an escalation in hostility. It also weakens International support for Israel, because it no longer appears to be a reasonable partner in the region.

As it stands today, as a 52 year old American, during my life there has never been any serious question about the special relationship between the US and Israel, and the importance of strong military aid to ensure Israel's survival. But I'm finding my self more and more angered by Israel with each passing year, and I now find myself among the growing number of Americans who are willing to seriously discuss the idea of totally cutting off military aid to Israel, which no longer seems to require it, and which no longer seems to think that American interests need be taken into account. If Israel continues on it's current path, it will only be more and more isolated. I suppose Israel can go it alone, but I think it would be stronger with enthusiastic support in the US and Europe.

These are the reasons why working hard to compromise on a two-state solution seem to me to be Israel's wisest course, no matter how accurate your characterizations of Arabs may or may not be.

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