The Happy Arab News Service

Friday, October 13, 2006

What If?

In March 2002 the Beirut summit adopted a resolution concerning a Middle-East peace proposal. As far as I know it has been rejected by Israel but it is interesting to review it and try to see whether it's workable.   -->  Full Post

It starts with the declaration that “the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties”

Basically it calls for Israel's withdrawal back to the borders of 67 and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as it's capital. This also includes the Golan heights.

Another important section is the one dealing with the refugees as after all that was the issue that Oslo fall on. It calls for “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian Refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” (The UN Resolution 194 adopted in 11 December 1948 calls ,among other things for “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible”)

In return the Arab Countries affirm the following: ” a. Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.

b. Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.”

This leaves 2 questions :

1. Is there a practical way to fulfil the Arab countries suggestions?

2. Do we trust them?

In terms of the West Bank and Gaza , I believe that it's possible to return to the borders of 67 . Perhaps it is possible to reach some compromise but in the long run it's best if Israel returns all pre-67 territories , this will be very good for Israel's public relations and propaganda machine. It never seizes to amaze me how a modern highly developed country like Israel comes up with the worst PR in the mid-east . The current wall should be relocated to 67 borders and if peace prevails for an agreed time (say , 5 years ) the wall can be torn down. What should be done with the settlers is a delicate matter , but I think most of them can be tempted with financial treats . But as for the more hardcore ones – I have a suggestion further on.

Returning the Golan heights is more difficult because of its strategic importance. I would speculate that if we are to follow Stef Wertheimer's idea,(“sufficiently developed free market economies don't fight each other, but instead make democracy inevitable.”) then we will get the following scenario: Israel accepts the proposal , but promises to return the Golan heights after an agreed X years of no hostility towards it (in the meanwhile the is some sort of an international force there) . Then, open trade , tourism and cultural exchange between Israel , Lebanon and Syria bring Syria and Lebanon closer to Wertheimer's ideal. Tourism will also help Israelis monitor whats going on in those countries. Syria and Lebanon stop being a threat – they get the Golan back.

Then there is the problem of refugees . But if Israel agrees to receive them. It's impractical for them to get their houses in Haifa back but they can be treated like new immigrants and get some sort of housing somewhere. In return they will have to become Israeli citizens , renounce any connections to the Palestinian state , pay taxes to Israel and serve in the army (IDF) . A similar solution can be applied to the hardcore settlers in the West Bank. They don't want to leave? OK , they get a Palestinian citizenship and pay their taxes to the Hamas.

2. Can the Arab countries be trusted ?

That's a different question altogether. Of course if this peace agreement is ever signed it would need some serious super-power backings , though can Israel trust any of the super powers is yet another question that needs serious thinking....


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