People got really upset with yesterday's diary on the position expressed that falls between peace and annexation of the Palestinian Territories, i.e., partition. (They also seemed quite upset, for a number of reasons, with the proposal that Israel respond to Hamas's rocket attacks with equally erratic rocket attacks with the same explosive power and lack of aim. No one offered anything better, however.)
So perhaps I should expand on what I suggest when I discuss partition. First, however, a note that everyone should read: My personal opinion is that Israel should return to its May 1967 borders. Period. Any deviation on this should only happen when this is agreed upon by both sides.
On to partition...
First, it is necessary to state that I don't prefer partition to peace, nor do I see partition as a permanent solution to the impasse or as the road to Palestinian statehood. Rather, with Hamas in de jure power over the Palestinian Authority and de facto power over Gaza and a likely far-right government about to be installed in Israel, peace negotiations will get nowhere.
OK, so I've covered myself on that part. Now: Partition in the place of peace would obviously need to follow guidelines, and I generally find that the Clinton parameters work well here. This would necessarily have to exclude Jerusalem — again, for the time being, bearing in mind that a permanent solution would not involve unilateral disengagement by Israel but a negotiated agreement between parties both interested in peace.
Here are the parameters from the U.N. Web site. (I think it's probably safe to bet that nobody is going to accuse the U.N. of being "pro-Israel.") The parameters number five and most are worth looking at w/r/t a partition situation pending worthy peace negotiators re-arising on both sides:
- The establishment of a "sovereign, viable Palestinian State that would accommodate Israel's security requirements and the demographic realities". It would include the Gaza Strip and "the vast majority of the West Bank", while settlement blocks would be incorporated into Israel "with the goal of maximizing the number of settlers in Israel while minimizing the land annex, for Palestine to be viable must be a geographically contiguous State"; some territorial swaps and other arrangements would be needed to make the agreement "durable".
I would argue that the entire West Bank (not including East Jerusalem) should be evacuated by Israel and that settlement blocs cannot be incorporated into Israel absent a negotiated settlement.
This necessarily brings up the issue of the current "security barrier" that Israel has erected in the first place, which has been remarkably successful at preventing suicide bombings but which, at the same time, should it form a permanent border, would expropriate large amounts of Palestinian territory.
In a partition situation, particularly because it is not a peace scenario, the barrier would have to remain. I would suggest that it be redrawn and re-erected in such a way that it conforms as closely as possible to the Green Line and that settlers be moved to the Israeli side of the barrier. Then the IDF should leave the West Bank. By the way, if and when peace negotiations begin again, this removes the settler issue from the table.
- A solution for the Palestinian refugees that would allow them to return to a Palestinian State, those who so wished, or find new homes in their current locations or in third countries, including Israel, "consistent with those countries' sovereign decisions". All refugees should receive compensation from the international community for their losses and assistance in building their new lives; the US would take a lead in raising the money necessary to relocate them in the most appropriate manner. One should not expect Israel to acknowledge an unlimited right of return to present-day Israel, as that "would undermine the very foundations of the Israeli State or the whole reason for creating the Palestinian State".
This is apparently where peace talks fell apart at Taba. Clearly it is not even on the table when discussing partition. Refugees remain refugees when peace is absent. Sorry everyone.
- An "international presence in Palestine to provide border security along the Jordan Valley and to monitor implementation of the final agreement" as well as "a non-militarized Palestine, a phased Israeli withdrawal, to address Israeli security needs in the Jordan Valley, and other essential arrangements to ensure Israel's ability to defend itself.
If Israel stops occupying the West Bank — whether in times of peace or partition — I see no point in having an international force stationed in one state and not the other. I don't expect a non-militarized Palestine even in a peace agreement, so I can't realistically expect one in a partition.
- Four "fair and logical propositions" regarding Jerusalem: (a) It should be an open and undivided city, with assured freedom of access and worship for all, encompassing the internationally recognized capitals of two States, Israel and Palestine, (b) "[W]hat is Arab should be Palestinian" and (c) "what is Jewish should be Israeli", while (d) "what is holy to both requires a special care to meet the needs of all", with "mutual respect for the religious beliefs and holy shrines of Jews, Muslims and Christians".
I agree with this parameter and think it should probably be part of a final status agreement. But that's not what we're talking about here. In a partition situation, Israel keeps East Jerusalem. But to keep the door to peace open, I would suggest the following: (1) That Israel withdraw its unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, in order to indicate that it will negotiate its status at the right time; (2) That the Old City be demilitarized to the greatest possible extent, perhaps with the assistance of the U.N.; and (3) That both Palestine and Israel seriously consider having their capitals elsewhere.
- "[A]ny agreement would have to mark the decision to end the conflict, for neither side can afford to make these painful compromises, only to be subjected to further demands".
Not relevant here, as this is partition and not peace.
I realize that this will upset people, which is why I don't suggest that it be the final status arrangement or even the basis of further peace negotiations. Rather, I am suggesting a reasonable set of steps by which violence can be reduced in all of post-1922 Mandatory Palestine by the Israelis and Palestinians being separate from one another.
One thing that must be consistently remembered, however, is that Israel has a right to defend itself. This right should be exercised within reason, of course, but nobody reasonable should expect that (a) Israel negotiate with an organization that is dedicated to destroying Israel or (b) Israel have missiles lobbed into its borders and do nothing.
And yes, I suggested the lobbing of missiles right back. More on that in tomorrow's diary.