Tags: israel | trump | netanyahu | one state solution | jared kushner

Before One or Two State Solution for Israel, Consider Test Step

Before One or Two State Solution for Israel, Consider Test Step

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu answer questions during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House February 15, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Friday, 17 February 2017 02:22 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The Trump-Netanyahu press conference on Wednesday brought a new perspective on the Middle East because the U.S. president evoked the eventuality of a one state solution.

In contrast to the skepticism of many that this simply sets the time clock back 20 years, Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to Israel and Egypt, commented that “Trump was more forthcoming than anybody would have expected ….and was basically saying, ‘I’m open to anything, as long as it gets me to success.’”

Taking as a starting point that this development is positive, the one state suggestion can lead to a myriad of possibilities.

Examples are Israel subsuming the West Bank and Gaza, Israel setting up Jewish and Palestinian provinces in a form of confederation under Israel government authority, or Jordan — as part of what is termed the "outside in" approach — itself federating Palestinian territories. Each solution raises complex questions of international law: notions of independence, statehood, sovereignty, and military and security measures and alliances.

But putting aside technical and structural issues, the determining factor, as Mr. Trump said, is the will of the parties. And to facilitate bridging the gap between what the parties want, they should be encouraged to think out of the box.

A proposal to change the current perspective, which has stagnated into ways of pressuring the parties to make concessions, is to initiate a two-phase process.

During a first intermediary stage — before deciding on the form of the future political entity — maneuvering room would provide for changes on the ground that would give the Palestinians greater autonomy and improved economic and social conditions.

A change in facts on the ground can then at a later phase facilitate compromise on the difficult outstanding issues such as return of refugees, jurisdiction over religious sites, the legal status of the settlers, final borders, and the Jewish character of Israel.

Because Israel is today the one political entity governing territory that is under the authority of the Palestinian Authority, it is up to Israel to take the initiative to make changes to improve the conditions of the Palestinians without jeopardizing the security of the Israelis, whether the final solution be one state or two. The initiative would be to reinforce Palestinian control over their own governance to improve their economic conditions, and more fully control their investments, resources, imports and exports, health services, and infrastructure development including transportation.

There should be little difficulty in finding a consensus on the minimum conditions Israel would be entitled to require to implement this intermediary step. These would be to assure that the greater Palestinian autonomy would not become a platform for attacks against Israel or the staging ground for a civil war between opposing factions and would protect Palestine from becoming embroiled in the regional wars. Already in 2006 and 2007, following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, there were an estimated thousand deaths from the Palestinian internal conflicts. After the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and the deposal of Egyptian president Morsi in July 2013, tensions between Fatah and Hamas led Egypt to close the Rafa border crossing until forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas regained control from Hamas.

There would be a need for increased coordination and direct involvement of the Israel army, police forces on border controls, and with Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. Israel, the U.S., and other countries who have participated in peace conferences all agree that whatever the political entity to be established, Palestinians can only be governed by the internationally recognized organization, the Palestinian Authority, even if for this to happen the Palestinians would need to hold a referendum where Hamas is relegated to a minority role.

What is interesting is to define the characteristics of full sovereignty that would add to what the Palestinians would have already obtained with this intermediary stage. Palestine will have to be able to build improved economic conditions for its people and not have all their energy directed against Israel as if, as is said in their school books, it is the devil incarnate. Outside investments, both from multilateral organizations and private investors would be facilitated. As Salam Fayyad, the former Palestinian Authority minister maintained, peace efforts can be successful once the issues of job creation, training, improved internal security and a strong way forward toward building a viable economy are addressed.

If what is missing is the right to build an army and consideration that Palestine is entitled to make war if certain of demands are not met, then this may lead to a decision that a separate totally independent State is not a good idea.

In any event, if these minimum conditions for an intermediary stage are not accepted or cannot be accepted by the PA, this would be unfortunate but there would be two important positive consequences.

One, Israel and the U.S. would not be the scapegoats in much of world opinion for failure to have taken measures to achieve peace.

Two, the real issue, whether as in 2000 the Palestinians are more inclined to maintain a status of complaint and conflict than one of assuming the responsibility of governing, could be addressed fairly and with a much broader international consensus as to what is the problem and where to go to resolve it.

What is important is to move forward with a limited realistic proposal and use this new look at the problem as a way of putting an end to a process where positions are stagnation.

Edmund Burke said: "All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." He also said: "No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear."

The Palestinian people should be getting very tired of losing out through playing the role of 21st century hero, warrior, and victim and finding themselves frozen without any hope of a future because of both Israel’s restraints on their daily lives and their own internal violent divisions.
The Israelis should be getting very tired of serving as the whipping boy for all the regional problems and having been placed in the false position of having some form of ultimate power to bring about peace themselves.

And the people in the Middle East can’t be duped any longer into believing that their own salvation can come through the Palestinian cause.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l’EDHEC. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The Trump-Netanyahu press conference on Wednesday brought a new perspective on the Middle East because the U.S. president evoked the eventuality of a one state solution.
israel, trump, netanyahu, one state solution, jared kushner
Friday, 17 February 2017 02:22 PM
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