Charting the Path Toward Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Can a comprehensive peace agreement guarantee Israeli and Palestinian long-term strategic goals of security and prosperity?

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Is peace between Israelis and Palestinians attainable?

Prospects for a resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians are not that bleak as many people believe. Conflicts end, and this one will too. History teaches us that intractable conflicts eventually come to an end.

The communities in post South African Apartheid, Northern Ireland sectarian strife, and Rwanda’s ethnic genocide communities are working to heal the wounds of conflict which took place in their countries.

Consequently, the resolution of these conflicts is proof enough that the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis will end someday.

Why not work to make it sooner rather than later?

The starting point for peace negotiations should be Palestinian acceptance and recognition of Israel as the Jewish state. Israel should support UN recognition of the State of Palestine as the legitimate Palestinian partner to negotiate peace.

American advocacy of a two-state solution and Palestinian self-determination are still ongoing US policy under the Trump administration. Abbas and Netanyahu need to be willing to come to the negotiating table without preconditions. Once negotiations proceed both need to make painful concessions. These leaders should be deeply and personally devoted to the peace process.

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The author on a trip with his students to the Nazi concentration death camps in Auschwitz in March 2014.

As a result, to reach a final settlement the Palestinians should agree to the following:

  1. To coexist with Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinians would accept the Jewish state decided in the 1947 UN Partition Resolution and born from the war of 1947-48. In 1988 the Palestine Liberation Organization accepted a state on part of the land, and in 1993 the PLO acknowledged the State of Israel in the Oslo Accords.

  1. Accept Israel implementing required security arrangements to ensure its safety.
  2. Concede that the Palestinian state is a demilitarized, secular entity.
  3. Agree to territorial concessions with land swaps.
  4. Accept that the major settlement blocs be incorporated into Israel with no forced military evacuation of other settlements but may stay under Palestinian sovereignty.
  5. End the exhortations of hatred emanating from the mosques, schools and media depicting Jews as subhuman, calling for the destruction of Israel and inciting against Israelis.

Furthermore, in his famous June 4, 2009 Cairo speech, US President Barack Obama asserted:

“Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.”

  1. Relinquish the Palestinian “right of return” to Israel and to exercise it to the State of Palestine with compensations dispensed as stipulated by UN resolutions. The 1993 Oslo Peace Accords made official Palestinian recognition of Israel as a state.
  2. Stop the sanctification of those who committed terrorist acts by naming schools, city squares and football clubs to commemorate their memory.
  3. Recognize the Old City of Jerusalem inside the walls to be internationalized and outside the walls to be shared.
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In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted a limited Palestinian state in 2009.

Hence, to reach a final settlement the Israelis should agree to the following:

  1. Recognize the establishment of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines with agreed upon modifications.
  2. Withdraw Israeli occupation forces from the West Bank.
  3. End the blockade of Gaza.
  4. Offer compensation for the Palestinian refugees.
  5. Acknowledge partial responsibility for the refugee problem.
  6. Relinquish Israeli control of Palestinian entry and exiting the country.
  7. Cease extraction of the West Bank’s natural resources, including water.
  8. End control of Palestinian communication, customs, trade, and currency.
  9. Release Palestinian political prisoners.

Therefore, while Palestinian and Israeli intransigence in the past was the main cause for the breakdown of the peace talks, both should continue to show they are willing to achieve a deal and to override the obstructionist preventing a deal.

The opportunity presents itself to reach not only an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, but also an Arab peace settlement in accordance to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

In conclusion, this historic opportunity to make headway toward the goal of reconciliation and peace should not be missed again.

“If the three Abrahamic faiths can join together in cooperation,” Trump declared in his speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit, held in Riyadh, on May 21, 2017, “then peace in this world is possible — including peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

*This week Sharnoff’s Global Views is running a three-part series on the topic of reconciliation, as this topic is gaining greater significance due to rising violence in the Middle East. This article is part two in the series. In case you missed it, be sure to read part one by Dina Dajani, a doctoral candidate at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany. The third article in this series will run Friday and examine future reconciliation prospects by Dr. Zeina Barakat, lecturer at Friedrich Schiller University.

Professor Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi is Founding Director of Wasatia –Palestine www.wasatia.infoRead other articles by Mohammed.