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The Israeli Peace Initiave, April 6 2011
April 6, 2011 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Israeli ex-military and intelligence officials draft a plan for peace.

A group of prominent Israelis, including former heads of Shin Bet, Mossad and the Israeli army, have launched the Israeli Peace Initiative in response to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. The two page document calls for a sovereign, demilitarized Palestinian state, its borders based on the 1967 lines, with modifications based on 1:1 swaps that would not exceed 7 percent of the West Bank, a divided greater Jerusalem with the temple mount under a no-sovereignty ("God sovereignty") regime, and the right for Palestinian refugees to return to the Palestinian state, although not to Israel (save for "symbolic exceptions").

Yaakov Perry, former head of Shin Bet, has sent a copy of the document on Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose office will not comment on the subtance of the propsal.
“We are isolated internationally and seen to be against peace,” Mr. Perry said in a telephone interview. “I hope this will make a small contribution to pushing our prime minister forward. It is about time that Israel initiates something on peace.”
posted by moorooka (28 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
That first link seems pretty skeptical that anything real will come out of this new initiative - I mean, one can hope, but there doesn't seem to be much new.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:40 PM on April 6, 2011


I'm always glad to see anyone advancing alternative peace plans, and I'm especially pleased they got a quote from the head of J-Street. But yeah, I doubt this is going anywhere. Neither side seems likely to go for it.

I've been noticing an increased use of the word "isolation" in reference to the Israeli government and Israel's place in the world in their media, especially in Ha'aretz. Perhaps that's confirmation bias on my part, but that made the comment by Yaakov Perry stand out to me.

Meanwhile, Israeli PM Netanyahu is supposed to unveil an "official" peace plan during a visit to Washington next month which (even though it hasn't even been released to the public) is already being derided as nothing of the sort in the global media, and (predictably and probably presciently) attacked by Saab Erekat. (Since the Wikileaks Palestine Papers were released in January, I'm astonished that Erekat's still got a job.)

According to the rumors, Netenyahu's plan sounds a lot like the Valley of Peace initiative originally championed by Shimon Peres that never came to fruition -- which makes total sense since in the years before Netanyahu was re-elected, he spent a lot of time campaigning on the idea of peace through economic initiatives between Israelis, the Palestinians and Jordanians.

Anyway, will this plan go anywhere? Probably not. But it'll be interesting to see how the Israeli and Palestinian public react to it after Netanyahu's announcement. It protects Israel as a sovereign state demographically, which will appeal to them. And it retreats their borders back to the '67 lines, (mostly) which will appeal to many Palestinians.
posted by zarq at 8:11 PM on April 6, 2011


Bibi Netanyahu reportedly* responded thus:

"Fuck that."

*probably. If not in exact quote, I'm sure it's something analogous.
posted by chimaera at 8:12 PM on April 6, 2011


I'm trying to think of what a "de-militarized but sovreign" Palestinian state would look like. Or what, exactly, it's purpose would be. Obviously the Palestinian State would be expected to "control" it's citizens, to keep them from blowing up Israelis (a laudable goal in itself, I suppose), but one that doesn't solve the fundamental problem of the situation. These guys want to grant Palestine "independence" so they can outsource the repression of Palestinians to their new "government".

I forsee a poverty-stricken, overpopulated, toothless, puppet Palestinian "state" whos politicians and police officers are esentially paid agents of Israel, and who exist only to keep HAMAS at bay -- which will be increasingly difficult, as most Palestinians will be able to see the puppet's strings without much help. The only real effect this will have is to make groups like HAMAS even more powerful and give voice to their claim as the only "authentic" voice of real Palestinians.

The authors of this peace plan seem to want one thing more than anything else: international legitimacy for Israel. They want Israel to reclaim the "good guys" badge and to keep it. They also want that to happen without confronting the central issue of the I/P conflict: that Israel is, esentially, the last unreformed European colony and the last bastion of blood-and-soil nationalism in the Western world.

Until that issue can be dealt with head-on, until that reality can be faced, then all of these "peace deals" are just pissing upwind. They're all trying to solve little problems by ignoring the big ones.
posted by Avenger at 8:32 PM on April 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Can the two sides start working TOGETHER to make a peace treaty, rather than masturbatory, unilateral peace fair projects?
posted by hal_c_on at 8:35 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Avenger wrote: The only real effect this will have is to make groups like HAMAS even more powerful and give voice to their claim as the only "authentic" voice of real Palestinians.

Hamas doesn't have majority support even within Gaza. I don't especially trust opinion polls, but Hamas has blocked any sort of election, even local government elections. They probably know their own level of support.

They also want that to happen without confronting the central issue of the I/P conflict: that Israel is, esentially, the last unreformed European colony and the last bastion of blood-and-soil nationalism in the Western world.

Israel's a democracy primarily composed of people who were born there or within the Middle East. Calling it a "colony" (of which country?) is just silly.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:41 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Calling it a "colony" (of which country?) is just silly.

I think you know exactly what the answer to your parenthetical question is gonna be around here.
posted by spicynuts at 8:49 PM on April 6, 2011


I don't, actually. Britain? Anyway, it's an odd allegation, especially since the usual accusation is that Israel is mysteriously powerful.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:59 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hamas doesn't have majority support even within Gaza. I don't especially trust opinion polls, but Hamas has blocked any sort of election, even local government elections. They probably know their own level of support.

HAMAS is going to become more popular, not less, if a future Palestinian state is going to be an Israeli puppet. I can't imagine any future Palestinian state that isn't an Israeli puppet, so I'm willing to bank on it.

Israel's a democracy primarily composed of people who were born there or within the Middle East. Calling it a "colony" (of which country?) is just silly.

Two points:

Firstly, White Rhodesia was a ethnically-based "democracy primarily composed of people who were born there or in the region" but that fact itself didn't make the Rhodesian state ipso-facto legitimate. One of the tenets of de-colonization is that white people couldn't claim to just "own" big chunks of Africa just because they had "been there a long time" or "well, we were born here too, you know". Why? Because their ancestors had forcibly carved their states from the black African soil and spilled black African blood to do so. If Israel is a legitimate state, then so was White Rhodesia and White South Africa.

As to your second question, I'll agree that Israel is unique in the sense that it's not a colony from a single European nation, but is the product of Europe as a whole. Israel is how the devistated countries of post-war Europe dealt with their own individual "Jewish Question". You can argue that the British tried to hold on to Palestine for as long as they could but the somewhat anti-semetic states of Western Europe weren't too sad to see hundreds of thousands of desperate Jewish refugees and Holocaust-survivors leave for other lands.

Israel, then, is a European colony. A place where European guilt and European responsibility could go to die.

You can respond if you like but I'm going to bow out of this thread and give some room for others to talk.
posted by Avenger at 9:11 PM on April 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Blood-and-soil nationalism", while it undoubtably exists in Israel (as it does in all other Western countries), is not native to Zionism. The phrase is a calque of Blut und Boden, which was of course irredeemably contaminated by its adoption into Nazism but isn't applicable to Zionism anyway. The point is that that while Revisionist Zionism was strongly influenced by Romantic Nationalism, the conception of the Jewish people is still defined by the social reality of being Jewish, rather than racial criteria; and that further, at the founding of Israel the dominant ideology was Labour Zionism, which barely if at all falls under the rubric of Romantic Nationalism.

So by saying that the 'central problem' of the I/P conflict is Blut und Boden, you run into several problems: first, that the phrase has been a Nazi slur since the '30s; secondly, that it doesn't pertain to any mainstream Israeli political thought, and thirdly that even if you were somehow to make it fit, your argument would then amount to the 'central problem' having become blood-and-soil nationalism, as it certainly wasn't in 1948 – unless, that is, you want to blame everything on Irgun and Lehi, and I don't see why you would.
posted by topynate at 9:16 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Avenger wrote: Firstly, White Rhodesia was a ethnically-based "democracy primarily composed of people who were born there or in the region" ...

Rhodesia wasn't a democracy: it had minority rule by the white population. Citizenship of Israel isn't ethnically based: Israel had an Arab as its Head of State before the USA had an African-American.

You can respond if you like but I'm going to bow out of this thread ...
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:53 PM on April 6, 2011


Israel had an Arab as its Head of State before the USA had an African-American.

Is this what you are talking about? I am definitely not an expert on I/P, but a president resigning under allegations of rape, leaving someone else in charge, who then leaves to the US, leaving an Arab as Israel's "ceremonial president" for a week is not the same thing as an elected head of state.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:54 PM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I agree, but it's not insignificant. Can you imagine the same thing happening in a country that was genuinely as racist as Avenger alleged? It would have been so, so easy for Dalia Itzik to put off her trip to the US for a couple of weeks.

Incidentally, in a genuinely racist country Majalli Wahaba wouldn't have been in the Knesset and he certainly wouldn't have been Deputy Speaker. I note that the equivalent position in the USA is Speaker of the House ... and there haven't been any African-Americans there, or as Presidents pro-tempore of the US Senate.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:10 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obviously the distinction is between the democracy that exists on one side of the green line and the apartheid military regime that exists on the other.
posted by moorooka at 12:23 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, we can debate "genuine racism" all we want.

But answer this question, Joe: would you want your own kids living in the conditions that Israel imposes on the Palestinians in Gaza and Occupied Territories?
posted by orthogonality at 12:43 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


GRAR Israel=racist noise isn't very constructive conversation folks. Please stop.

To capture a few items of related new and try to bring the thread back:
-The Palestinians have set a September deadline before seeking UN recognition (link Israel military analysis of implications)
-El Baradi (a leading Egyptian presidential candidate) -- suggests changes for Egyptian role in peace efforts--specifically ending blockade enforcement and possible military protection for Gaza against Israeli attack
-Netenyahu has sent Shimon Peres to the US in advance of a May rollout of a new peace plan and US visit with Obama.

The dual pressure of the Arab spring /Egyptian November elections and what many see as inevitable UN recognition for Palestine in September means the Israelis are finally having to cope with a deadline.
posted by humanfont at 3:57 AM on April 7, 2011


Orthogonality wrote: Joe: would you want your own kids living in the conditions that Israel imposes on the Palestinians in Gaza and Occupied Territories?

I would want my kids to be living in peace and security. I would want them to live without the fear of random violence, or of treading on a militia's toes, or of being insufficiently orthodox; I would want them to have opportunities to excel without joining a militia or to advance without joining a faction. I would want them to live in a society where neither violence, bribery, nor family connections stood in place of civil rights. Those things would be way, way, higher on my list than anything Israel is likely to do. My focus wouldn't be on ending Israeli military occupation: it would be on enabling a civil society including an end to Israeli military occupation.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:28 AM on April 7, 2011


first, if i could favorite a million times AVENGER's comment, i would; because not recognizing Israel as a European colonist tool is the root of the problem when speaking of Israel and lends clarity to why the following would be completely unacceptable to any Palestinian: and the right for Palestinian refugees to return to the Palestinian state, although not to Israel (save for "symbolic exceptions").

there are many, many reasons why this proposal will be rejected, but that one line up there is all we need to know this isnt going anywhere. that's not compromise, that's apartheid and segregationism and as such, a crime against humanity (which, btw, the united states refuses to recognize as such).

that's why there's a huge push among palestinian activists to boycott, divest and sanction Israel just like we did South Africa in the 1980s. any "peace" process that tries to rationalize segregationism in the middle east is just not going anywhere.
posted by liza at 8:00 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


@Avenger: Isn't South Africa a bit of a special case? I thought supposedly the Zulu tribes who were predominant there (by displacing the local Khoisan) arrived there about the same time as the Dutch.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2011


Joe in Australia: "My focus wouldn't be on ending Israeli military occupation: it would be on enabling a civil society including an end to Israeli military occupation."

One of the primary obstacles to effective Palestinian self-governance right now is the Israeli military occupation. The radicals rose to power once a continuous disruption of government services was in place. Once the more moderate, democratic elements in their government couldn't supply the people with access to those services, they lost legislative power to the radicals and the government became divided.

Hamas, Fatah and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade maintain their power and numbers by supplying services to the people that have been disrupted by the blockade, the international boycott and the various effects of military attacks and the occupation. They then blame the disruption on Israel and vow to fight back in order to win Palestinian freedom. Fighting back causes additional disruptions and tighter sanctions. It's a vicious cycle, perpetuated by both sides. They deliberately antagonize Israel with suicide bombers, threats, rockets, etc. Israel reacts -- usually highly disproportionately.

All the other indignities and catastrophes -- the wall, the checkpoints, the ongoing Settler land grab, the shift in borders, the civilians and children who have died in various attacks, etc., etc., also are used by the radicals to maintain power. But none of them are affect the entire Palestinian population at once the way the military occupation does. The Settlements are restricted to specific areas of the West Bank. The wall only affects those who live near it, etc.

It seems apparent that Hamas and Fatah have little desire to end the military occupation since it's keeping them in power. But if the military occupation disappears, civilian needs might just be able to shift enough to dislodge them.
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


that's apartheid and segregationism and as such, a crime against humanity (which, btw, the united states refuses to recognize as such).

The simple truth is, if the Palestinians get their own state, it will be none of those things. It will be two separate countries working to maintain their own borders.
posted by zarq at 10:06 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


the last unreformed European colony and the last bastion of blood-and-soil nationalism in the Western world.

Wait, what about the United States?
posted by Wordwoman at 11:55 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hamas announces cease-fire to be honored by all Gaza factions.

Events have been moving quickly today. Prior to this announcement, Iron Dome, the short range defence system, intercepted a rocket fired at Ashkelon, amid a surge in attacks. I'm not sure whether Hamas's announcement reflects the conventional wisdom that they don't want to see a serious escalation, or if it's a tactical move designed to decrease vigilance, much as Israel put Hamas off guard before the Gaza War by opening checkpoints.
posted by topynate at 1:35 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Topynate, here's a link to Hamas's own website where they boast about yesterday's attack by "resistance fighters" yesterday which "left two settlers injured". Translated from terror-speak, they fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus. They then kept on firing mortars at people trying to rescue the kids. The driver and one of the children were injured by the attack; the child is in a critical condition.

So yeah, they may have announced a ceasefire, but I find it hard to see this as being part of a desire for peace. It's more likely a desire to profit twice: once by killing Jews; once by blaming Israel for defending itself.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:11 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I read about that attack just before I wrote my comment (in Israel it is still 'today', not 'yesterday', btw!). Obviously they don't want peace, but today's events are still ambiguous. I mean, maybe Hamas wants to draw a line under the events of Saturday, when the IDF killed one of their top commanders, and the ceasefire declaration has the implicit message that the bus attack is enough to satisfy their sense of honour, even given Israel's strong response to all today's attacks. Or maybe not.
posted by topynate at 2:49 PM on April 7, 2011


Whoops, forgot what the time difference was: it was indeed already the 8th of April in Israel when you wrote your last comment.
posted by topynate at 2:54 PM on April 7, 2011


I'm actually quite curious to see what people here actually object to when it comes to the peace plan proposed. Looking specifically at the Israeli-Palestinian part of the proposal, I find it to be, in theory, quite reasonable. I'm just not sure about it in practice. As a Jewish American currently volunteering in the Israeli school system, I find it heartening to see that there are people who haven't given up on peace.

The main criticisms I hear from Israelis about proposals similar to this one is that the creation of a Palestinian state does not necessarily guarantee the safety of Israelis. In the end, I personally believe, that a Palestinian state will bring safety and security to Israel. But who knows as far as the short-term is concerned?

When Hamas shoots rockets at children, exploding a school bus. At innocent children on their way to school! How can Israel protect its people? Hamas then denounced Israel to the media for defending its people, saying that Israel broke the cease-fire. How is shooting rockets at children not breaking a cease-fire?

Back in December, I visited Sha'ar HaNegev High School (the one I linked above). I observed a class, met some of the kids and spoke with the principal. A few years ago, a rocket hit one of the classrooms. As luck would have it, the kids were out of the room at the time, and none were hurt. When ORT (the organization I linked to above) got there within a few hours, ready to help, they found that the kids were already back to their classrooms, learning away. ORT then asked them what they needed, not knowing what to expect. The children asked for laptops - so that they could study even harder. Think about that for a moment. Most people around the world, myself included, would ask to get the heck out of there. "Send me somewhere safer!" But no. These kids just want to learn.

At schools around the country they have bomb-shelter drills, so that kids won't be so scared if the siren goes off telling them that they have only 15 seconds to run for their lives to a shelter. I've participated in one of the 2 hour drills with classes of first through sixth graders. The teachers were terrified, but they try not to let it show.

How can Israel guarantee safety for its people? I would love to hear novel ideas of how Israel can protect its schoolchildren. We need new ideas, because the current ones are just not great. The steps that Israel takes to protect its people are drastic, but let's not forget that Israel endured years of suicide bombings in their cities and on their busses before resorting to measures like the security fence. I dream that one day the fence will no longer be necessary to protect innocent people trying to go about their day. But you know that explosion in Jerusalem a few weeks ago? I've ridden that bus line before. It was across the street from the bus station that I've used dozens of times in the past, including last week.

I love this peace proposal, not because I agree with all of it, because I don't. But because there are people trying to come up with new ideas of how we can have peace, despite all of the challenges involved.
posted by Political Funny Man at 7:17 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I regularly read this blog, written by a guy called Yaacov Lozowick. He's very smart; was formerly director of archives at Yad Vashem (which must be bone-chilling) and is that rarity: someone who is thoroughly Israeli but who can articulate ideas as if he were American.(*)

His position seems to be: the Israeli left - including him - thought the Oslo process would lead to peace. There would be a staged withdrawal from various places in Gaza and the West Bank, greater autonomy for Palestinians, the Palestinians' civil institutions would get stronger and peace would arise. Instead Israel got the Second Intifada and Gaza turned into Hamastan, a chaotic, brutal regime at war with itself and its neighbours. So now he's a pro-peace, pro-Palestinian state lefty who is simultaneously very sceptical about peace plans that involve changes in human nature.

I'm not Israeli so I don't have either the particular knowledge or the moral standing to take a position on this peace plan, but he had a series of posts a while ago talking about dividing Jerusalem into Israeli and Palestinian sides. Here's one of them, where he actually provides photos of what's being discussed and points out that it's crazy. After reading that one, read this later one about the massacre of the Fogel family and consider his question:
assume for a moment that Jerusalem has been divided in a peace treaty, and there's a Palestinian government which is truly against terrorist attacks in the Israeli parts of Jerusalem, but they aren't effective enough to stop all attacks. This means there will be attacks, and in their aftermath the Israeli forces will be able to respond only up to the line, not on its other side - even knowing full well that on the other side, that's where the planners are: two blocks over the line, or perhaps in the window overlooking the line, how can anyone know.

Would you be willing to live in such a town? Raise your children there, perhaps?

The fairy tale about a divided but open city is, at best, a fairy tale. More likely it will be a nightmare.


(*) Yes, specifically American as opposed to, say English or Scottish or Canadian.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:25 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


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