Negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli representatives are starting this week. It is unclear how long they will last, or whether they will even last at all.
After all, as of now, there is no sign that the Palestinians will stray from their intention of sabotaging any progress that would require compromising on core issues. Commentators in Israel and abroad have tediously repeated the mantra that “all the components for peace are well-known” based on the “Clinton parameters,” and all that’s left to do is decide. But the truth is different.
Delving further, it turns out that nothing is settled — nothing regarding borders, not regarding which restrictions to Palestinian sovereignty and security would be imposed, nothing regarding Jerusalem and “the refugees,” and nothing regarding whether the Palestinians are ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his negotiating staff, including our friend Martin Indyk, apparently intend to focus on borders and security at the outset of negotiations. But this approach ignores the reality that the two issues are mutually dependent. In other words, marking future borders, such as those defined in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, must reflect Israel’s security needs.
Not only can the “Green Line” not remain the only reference point for demarcating the future border (even U.S. President Barack Obama during his AIPAC appearance in 2011 said that the Israelis and Palestinians would have to conduct negotiations over borders, which would inevitably end up different than the ones that existed prior to June 4, 1967), but negotiations must also set rules granting Israel the freedom to carry out security operations within territories belonging to the Palestinian entity (including a permanent IDF presence on the Jordan line).
The mutual dependence of security and borders was an issue that the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush had to consider when it proposed the “road map for peace.” In the second stage of that plan, “a Palestinian state with provisional borders” would be created. But that definition is irrelevant now. Instead, we must adopt the principle of “conditional sovereignty,” or sovereignty that is implemented “gradually,” because under full sovereignty the Palestinian entity could renounce all previous obligations.
And what about land swaps? This plan is sometimes seen as a key to resolving the problem of borders. The Obama administration mentions it from time to time and Kerry called a special press conference to gleefully announce that the Arab League had agreed to the proposal.
However, it’s doubtful whether the proposal can be justified either morally or in principle. It is doubtful whether it is tangible at all (not to mention that this would also mark the first time in history that the aggressor would be compensated for a loss of territory by receiving land from the victim of its aggression).
All over the world (and in Israel) people have intentionally forgotten how the war in 1967 transpired, who attacked whom, and why Israel, in a defensive war, captured territories from …read more