top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureMike Lyons

IN SEARCH OF PEACE AND A FUNCTIONAL TWO-STATE SOLUTION


A Summary of What is Proposed


This war will end. Hopefully sooner, rather than later. What comes next?


A new paradigm is called for to bring peace to the peoples of Israel and Palestine. This proposal includes: * the re-establishment of Two-States with borders partially modified along the lines proposed in this paper; * a major relocation of the Israeli Settlers in the West Bank and of the Palestinians who reside in the Gaza Strip; * new political alignments by both the Israelis and the Palestinians; * boldness, imagination, diplomacy, mediation, negotiation, and intervention (not military intervention) by powerful nations which are trusted by both sides.


The Background - Wars and Occupation


When the United Nations General Assembly called for the creation of two states in Palestine, one Jewish and one Arab, the Arabs rejected the offer, while the Jews accepted the territory allocated to them. The new Jewish state was established in 1948 but was immediately attacked by five Arab nations. They failed to destroy Israel, but the Arab state never materialised. The 1948 war led to a mass exodus of 700,000 Palestinians. Nevertheless, a Jordanian official said at the time that war would be renewed and, even if the struggle lasted 100 years, “The day of vengeance would come”.


Further attacks were launched against Israel in 1967 and again in 1973. Both failed. After 1967 the Israelis took occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights.


On 7 October 2023, 50 years after the 1973 war, Hamas attacked again.


A Modification of Boundaries


There is an underlying assumption in these proposals that the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians desire peace and a Two-State solution. That may not currently be obvious with emotions running high, but if peace can be restored, then the prospect of Two-States can be revived and implemented.


The current allocation of territory in Israel is not working well. A new design is needed if lasting peace is to be achieved. An independent body of experts (acceptable to both the Palestinians and the Israelis) must be established to formulate adjustments to the areas and boundaries of the Palestinian State and the Israeli State as is here proposed. The 1949 Armistice Line (The Green Line) may be the place to start.



This plan calls for the Israeli Settlers who occupy significant parts of the West Bank to be relocated westward into the Israeli State, bringing an end to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and attacks by fanatical Settlers against Palestinians. Without this relocation there can be no possibility of establishing a Palestinian State in this region. Israel’s insistence that the West Bank is “disputed territory” is no longer relevant. Most of the world’s populations regard the area as illegally occupied, and if Israel truly seeks peace, then recognising this reality is no longer a choice. However, the greatest challenge is continues to be the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. The far right coalition not only calls for continued occupation and annexation of the West Bank but encourages attacks against Palestinians residing in the area. That must end.


The land initially allocated to the Palestinian State in 1947 must be expanded to reflect the increased size of the Palestinian population. A critical component of this change also involves the relocation of those Palestinians who reside in the Gaza Strip into the expanded Palestinian State. The area of the Palestinian State must be further increased by an area at least equal to the current land area of the Gaza Strip. This move will alleviate the immense population pressure in Gaza.


Those Palestinians who take up residence in the modified Palestinian State must be granted permanent occupation and ownership of the residences and other facilities existing in the West Bank. That will not be sufficient to accommodate all Palestinians who are relocated but it is a start. Significant additional residential and other facilities will need to be constructed in the West Bank. One of the great benefits of this relocation is that the Palestinian State will comprise a single landmass and there will be a significantly enlarged territory making up the Palestinian State.


Based on this proposal the Gaza Strip (which has been largely destroyed in the course of the current Israeli-Hamas war) would become part of and be incorporated into the Jewish State to the West.


A massive reconstruction program will be required both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to create additional accommodation for the Palestinians who move eastwards, and the Settlers and other Israelis who are relocated within the Israeli State. This program will be comparable to the US Marshall Plan after World War II, potentially including participation through the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. It would be a massive undertaking. Billions of dollars will be needed to give effect to the plan and much of the finance will need to come from the World Bank and from great powers such as the USA, Saudi Arabia, India and China.


DMZ


A “Demilitarised Zone” (DMZ) should be established running the length of the adjusted border between the two States. It can be done. North and South Korea have been divided since 1953 by a 250 km long DMZ. The width of the proposed Israel/Palestine DMZ should be between 1 and 2 km wide and must be “policed”, at least in the short term to prevent the risk of further conflict.


The Temple Mount


The Temple Mount, a compound within the Old City of Jerusalem is the site of two magnificent structures, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (built between 685 and 715 A.D). The Western Wall is located in the south-west corner of the compound. The Temple Mount remains a flashpoint in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Architectural adjustments are required to introduce suitable barriers to avoid clashes between the Jews (at the Western Wall) and the Arab worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque.


The Hamas/Israel War


There can be no peace while Hamas remains in power in Gaza. Only days ago, Ghazi Hamad (a member of the Hamas political bureau) hailed the systematic slaughter of civilians in Israel on 7 October and said that if given the chance, Hamas would repeat similar assaults many times until “Israel is exterminated”. At the same time, the Settlers have stepped up their attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, aided and abetted by the far right coalition government.


What is currently happening is unquestionably a humanitarian catastrophe and Israel has come under growing international pressure for a ceasefire even though US and other leaders have warned that a ceasefire would leave Hamas in a position to repeat its attacks against Israel, again and again.


Early sympathy for Israel’s response to the 7 October siege is evaporating and today, significant criticism is levelled at Israel due to the number of deaths of civilians including children in Gaza. This is so even though Hamas must carry responsibility for its operations under civilian occupied areas and for using civilians as human shields. When the Israelis have urged residents in northern Gaza to move south to avoid harm, Hamas leaders have ordered them to remain.


A New Political Alignment


New political leadership is required for the Palestinian State. The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas was born in 1935 and has been in office since 2005. He must be replaced by the Palestinian people by a capable leader, one who can and is willing to contribute to peace and coexistence.


Prime Minister Netanyahu will surely retire from office at the latest, once hostilities end. It is up to the Israeli people to democratically elect new leadership which must at all costs avoid the massive influence of the extreme right wing coalition parties. Coalition government in Israel is a given but a coalition including members of the current unity war cabinet such as Benny Gantz and others would contribute immensely to the peace process. The nation can no longer be held to ransom by religious fanaticism.


Mediation, Negotiation, and Enforcement


US President Biden is correct when he says that a Two-State solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. He also calls for a revitalised Palestinian Authority and he condemns extremist violence by Settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.


I do not pretend that there will be no difficulties in achieving a peaceful Two-State solution. Ehud Olmert became Prime Minister of Israel in May 2006. Before his 2008 resignation, he offered a peace deal to the Palestinian Authority for the establishment of a Palestinian State in the West Bank, with its capital in East Jerusalem. On the day he made the offer, Hamas came to power and declared that the Palestinians would neither recognise Israel nor negotiate with it and that the conflict would only end when the Jewish state was destroyed. Any glimmer of hope for a peace deal was extinguished at that time.


It is difficult, if not impossible to imagine a peaceful resolution of the conflict without the intervention and mediation of major powers who are both credible and trusted by the Israelis and Palestinians. The US cannot alone perform this role but can and should participate in the process along with countries such as China (which assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council in November 2023), India and Saudi Arabia. A peaceful outcome cannot merely be negotiated. It will need to be enforced by the negotiating powers and, in addition meaningful and effective security guarantees must be provided to both the Palestinians and the Israelis. More than mediation is required. A carrot and stick is needed to ensure that a Two-State solution is implemented and sustained.


"AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM" - HEAR THE OTHER SIDE!





66 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Commentaires


bottom of page