A New Middle East Approach | The Nation


A New Middle East Approach

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The March 18 issue features a collection of readers' comments on this article, "New Mideast Approach": Flawed?

The Plan

About the Author

Jerome M. Segal
Jerome M. Segal, a senior research scholar at the University of Maryland's Center for International and Security...

First, the UN Security Council would assert its legal authority over the territories and East Jerusalem. This assertion of authority would be justified on several grounds. Except for its recognition/admission of the State of Israel in 1949, the UN never relinquished the territorial authority it possessed over Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. While Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 called for bilateral negotiations to achieve Israeli withdrawal from "territories occupied" during the 1967 war and respect for Israel's right to live in peace, thirty-five years have passed without resolving the status of the territories. In taking this new initiative, the Council would explicitly acknowledge that the prospects for achieving, through bilateral negotiations alone, the peace agreement envisioned in Resolution 242 are not promising. Noting that the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem were not, in 1948 or in 1967 (or at present), under the recognized sovereignty of any state, the Council would assert that it is the ultimate legal authority for the disposition of these areas.

Seeking to delineate sovereignty within the territories, the Council would then specify conditions that, if met, would result in Security Council authorization of the PLO to establish the government of a Palestinian state, and subsequently for Security Council recognition of that state. If, along the lines of the Peres/Abu Ala proposal, a truncated Palestinian state already exists, these would be preconditions for directing Israel to undertake a fuller withdrawal. These conditions would include:

§ The State of Palestine will recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

§ The State of Palestine will (Jerusalem excepted and postponed) recognize Israel as sovereign within the borders established by this plan, and further agree that such borders are final, constituting the end of the territorial dimension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

§ The Palestinian state will not enter into any defense or assistance treaty with any state not at peace with Israel, and until a bilateral agreement with Israel is achieved will not import weapons.

§ The State of Palestine will accept international inspectors, appointed by the Security Council, under US leadership and including Israeli participants, to insure that such conditions are carried out faithfully.

§ The State of Palestine will demonstrate, as a prior condition of international recognition, its capacity to exercise control over acts of violence emanating from its territory.

If the PLO/State of Palestine accepts these conditions, the Security Council would then direct Israel to submit to the Council, within ninety days, a plan for an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Specific requirements would be:

§ Israel must withdraw from all of the Gaza Strip.

§ Israel must withdraw from a minimum of 95 percent of the West Bank, and must provide, on a one-for-one basis, a territorial swap for areas it proposes to retain.

§ Within the West Bank area, there must be territorial contiguity for the State of Palestine, with access to Jordan.

§ Within evacuated areas, Israel will provide for the full evacuation of Israeli citizens.

§ Evacuated settlements will be transferred to the State of Palestine in good condition, with the understanding that the value of the housing and infrastructure will count as a credit in any ultimate plan for compensation of Palestinian refugees.

Upon receipt of the Israeli plan, a committee formed of the five permanent members of the Security Council and chaired by the United States, would either accept the Israeli proposal, modify it or return it to Israel for specified amendments. Once the committee agreed on a final plan and received from the PLO its acceptance of the conditions detailed above, the Council would direct Israel to carry out the withdrawal. It would further announce that (Jerusalem excepted) the resulting border between Israel and Palestine fulfills UNSC Resolution 242 and constitutes the permanent international border, with Israel recognized as a sovereign Jewish state within that border. Thus the Council would foreclose any future effort to challenge Israeli sovereignty over those areas of Israel that exceed the original lines of the UN's 1947 partition plan. If the PLO does not accept the conditions, there would be no directive to withdraw.

While this would end the territorial dimension of the conflict (Jerusalem excepted), other vital issues would remain. Here the Council would call upon the two states, at the earliest date, to undertake bilateral negotiations on the remaining issues, including Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, refugees, security arrangements and economic cooperation. On Jerusalem, the Council would endorse the Clinton parameter that what is Arab should be Palestinian and what is Jewish should be Israeli. On refugees the negotiations would be based on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The Council would further specify that if the two sides reach agreed modifications in the Security Council separation plan, the Council will accept those modifications.

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