Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

November 17, 2015

Israeli-Palestinian conflict maps by Ari RusilaThe Israeli-Palestinian peace process – or lack of that – is now at the  crossroads.  To start or not direct  negotiations, between Israel and Palestinian Authority or at regional level,  with or without preconditions, with or without facilitators, with 2-State
solution as only aim or not, or would unilateral actions be the better option  than keep the status quo.  Is there  Intifada-3  going on or not?   A massive peace effort – the Madrid  Conference and the Oslo Accords – ended the First Intifada; a massive military  campaign –  Operation Defensive Shield –  ended the Second Intifada; how it will end the Intifada-3 if it really  starts?  These are some questions around  the conflict.  With this analysis I try  to clarify main options to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict in relation to  current situation.

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation with aim of ‘Two-State’ solution has been perceived as the only paradigm of international community and it has been the main option for Israeli and Palestinian authorities. To keep negotiations ongoing has came de facto as the goal in itself instead of the means to reach an agreement. The failure to reach an agreement has given excuses to the politicians on both sides, allowing them to blame the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future.

Main options to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Ari Rusila

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been besides 2-State solution also binational ‘One-State’ solution, partial solutions like Sinai an Jordan Options and different variations of ‘Three States’ solutions. One of course easy ‘solution’ is zero-option – ‘frozen conflict’ or ‘status quo’ scenario which can be implemented also through pseudo-talks. Today also unilateral actions – instead vain negotiations – can pave way towards some solutions.

 

One-State Solution

Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one.state solutionOne State scenario means “Isralestine”, a binational state to West from Jordan River or federation/confederation. Omer Bar-Lev – an MK for the Zionist Union – claims that Israel’s approach to security lacks creativity and initiative. He hits the nail on the head by concluding the one-state dilemma as follows:

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit. Then, it is for the Palestinians to decide to create their Palestinian State, which is in their interests and they will make their own decisions. (Source: Fathom)

Indeed one-state option in my opinion would destroy Israel as ‘Jewish homeland’ as both democracy and ‘Jewish Israel’ could not survive in this solution. Failure of negotiations or lack of unilateral actions is shaping Israel and West-Bank more and more towards de facto ‘1-State’.

 

Two-State solution

To this day, I cannot understand why the Palestinian leadership did not accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal I offered them. My proposal included a solution to all outstanding issues: territorial compromise, security arrangements, Jerusalem and refugees.

( How to Achieve a Lasting Peace: Stop Focusing on the Settlements By Ehud Olmert Israel PM 2006-2009)

A bit provocative 2-state vision

A bit provocative 2-state vision

A couple of decades the international community has preached a doctrine of ‘Two states for two peoples’, without any progress for its implementation. Sure also in my opinion a two-state solution might be possible. The final status agreement – negotiated compromise – has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings / agreement / plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try (both plans can be found from my document library ). These plans have been refined many times and serious work can be seen e.g. in leaked Palestine Papers/PaliLeaks (More in ”Pali-Leaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace).

23boundar_map-popup (2)

The endgame with 2-state solution will probably be according The Clinton Parameters . The key element with 2-State Solutions are negotiated borders based to pre-1967 armistice lines with land swaps;  the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people; Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Haram, and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and the space sacred to Judaism; Palestine defined as a “demilitarized state”, solving the refugee question by giving limited return to Israel, return to the new State of Palestine or rehabilitation refugees in host country.

 

Sinai Option

Sinai OptionGreenWith “official” 2-State Solution there is other 2-State options such as Gaza and Palestine option (more e.g. in Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander ). With this version Israel and Hamas could negotiate a deal which could lead to Gaza State while the future of Palestine state in West-Bank would stay unclear. This (part) solution could be stronger by combining it to recently again proposed Sinai option.

According Middle East Monitor (MEMO) report Egypt offers Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas a Palestinian state in Sinai.   Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi offered Palestinian Authority 620 square miles of land adjacent to Gaza in exchange for relinquishing claims to 1967 borders for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state. PA President Abbas reportedly rejects proposal. Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: “The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees.” He continued: “The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it.” One idea with offer was to resettle “Palestinian refugees” in the Sinai. At its core, the Egyptian initiatives proposes expanding the Gaza Strip to three – five times its current size (360 km2 ) and settling all the Palestinian refugees – who want to move – in a state to be established there. Under the initiative, this state will be demilitarized.

israel-palestinian-state-mediterranean-red-sea-west-bank-removalThere is also some versions of Sinai option created by outside NGOs such as “The Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics”, which might have conspiracy theoretical approach on issue.  Anyway ISGP proposes that under United Nations and NATO supervision and with financial support of the world community, humanely transport ALL Palestinians from the West Bank to a newly-created Palestinian state consisting of the south of Israel and preferably a small part of Egypt’s largely uninhabited Sinai Desert. In order to help make Palestine a viable state, extend its borders from Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

More about ‘Sinai Option’ in my article:  Sinai Option again .

 

Three-State solution

I have long been advocating Three State (return) Option – described also as no-state option – as the most pragmatic solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this 3-state scenario Amman rules the Cairo West Bank and Cairo runs Gaza. This scenario includes a Jordanian option meaning recognition and development of Jordan as the Palestinian State – Israel, the United States and the international community will recognize the Kingdom of Jordan as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Jordan will once again recognize itself as the Palestinian nation-state.

3-state return option by Ari RusilaFor 19 years, Judea and Samaria were part of Jordan, its population Jordanian citizens, and the geographic juxtaposition between Israel and Jordan should make delineating the border between the two countries in an agreement considerably easier than reaching a deal on a border between Israel and a Palestinian state that might be established in the area. If three state solution will be implemented so Israel would receive security guarantees from Jordan’s monarchy, which made peace with Israel in 1994, rather than from a politically enfeebled Palestinian president as well from Egypt, which has peace deal with Israel since 1978, rather than from outside supervised Hamas.

Related to Egypt this ‘3-State’ solution can include sc ‘Sinai Option’ and it is possible to agree some level autonomy to so formed ‘Great Gaza’.

Three-State [Return] proposal would eliminate the main logistical complication pertaining to the communication between the two parts of the Palestinian state. In addition two separate states for Palestinians would accord more realistically with a key current political reality. The idea of 2-State solution is to create a land corridor between Gaza and the West Bank, with a free flow of people and commerce between the two; however this kind of corridor effectively cuts Israel in half; sure connecting tunnels or bridges could be a solution, but these too are a logistical challenge.

From my point of view this solution is both pragmatic and doable and now more actual than ever as two-state solution is more and more utopia and road map towards it has been death for years. (More in A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move and The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

The three-state solution essentially replicates – with some minor land swaps – the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War.

 

Roadmaps to solution

In my opinion there is three main pathways to solution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and they are following:

  • (Re)starting negotiations,
  • Constructive unilateralism, and
  • Cold Peace

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace

(Re)starting negotiations

(Re)starting negotiations has two alternatives which are

  1. start negotiations between Israel and Palestine Authority – local approach leading possibly to 2-State solution
  2. restart negotiations between Israel, Egypt and Jordan – regional approach leading to 3-State solution

Both of these alternatives can be implemented directly between shareholders or they can be implemented with help of outside facilitators (USA, Arab League, UN).

I would like to conclude that instead of rigid high-flown statements and dead road maps international community should facilitate the Middle East peace process through following three principles

  • Negotiations will be restored without prior conditions.
  • The talks should be implemented by local stakeholders, not under supervision of outside powers
  • The international community – outside powers – should support any common agreed outcome of talks e.g. with financial aid programs

This approach means that an outcome – which I describe with term ‘quality peace’ – is not possible to achieve imposed from top to field e.g forced by international community or other outsiders; with that kind of approach one can only freeze the conflict not solve it. The only way for ‘quality peace’ is through motivation or at least commitment of individual, clan, community, ethnic groups, wider society or state to resolve conflicts through dialogue by acceptance and at least tolerance of differences. (More in my articles Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too? and Quality Peace )

quality peace by Ari Rusila

 

Constructive unilateralism

Already 2012 then Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel should consider imposing the borders of a future Palestinian state, becoming the most senior government official to suggest bypassing a stagnant peace process.

The plan titled “It’s in Our Hands,” by Omer Bar-Lev – an MK for the Zionist Union – calls for Israel to unilaterally define its own borders to ensure its security, would keep control of all of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley and bequeath about 60 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, evacuating 35,000 Jewish settlers — less than 10 percent of the total.

An example from history

An example from history

According BWF  – an Israeli NGO Blue White Future – Israel should prepare for a reality of two states for two people, most notably by declaring that it does not have claims of sovereignty over most of the occupied territories, and by planning and acting accordingly, including preparing for the relocation of settlers residing east of the security fence to Israel proper. BWF proposes that the international community should adopt a paradigm that allows all stakeholders – Israel, Palestinians, the US and the other players – to take independent steps that will advance a reality of two states. (More in Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict )

A possible Hamas-Israel Deal can pave the way for Cold Peace Solution (More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal ); the final outcome can be 2- or 3-State solution.

Cold Peace

Israel could also independently implement a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally. Creating a reality of two states for two peoples by separation into two nation states so that Israel annexes all Judea and Samaria (West-Bank) inside security fence and draws all outposts inside fence on the route of a permanent border on the basis of agreed-upon land swaps or independently in case negotiations does not take place. In the event that negotiations are not renewed, the temporary border will become permanent. As long as there is no agreement, the IDF and Israel would retain control of the outer borders and surrounding areas of the territories to be evacuated by Israelis who would be resettled within the state’s new borders. With this kind of unilateral “cold peace” solution Palestinians can do whatever they want in remaining territory but however this ‘Cold Peace’ in my opinion might – in the course of years – develop to permanent state of affairs and thus end Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An example could be the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed in 1979 which most Egyptians view as a cold peace; retrospectively not so bad deal anyway.

In my opinion the situation now is leading Israel toward a de facto binational future toward one-state solution and this might be the worst option for both sides. If negotiations now fail so I think that unilateral moves might not be so bad idea. If three-state option can not now replace the buried two-state solution so then the way forward for Israel seems to be annex the main settlements to Israel, finalize the security fence and wait if and when the Palestinian side and international facilitator want negotiate about some details based on this reality on the ground.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


Article Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict first appeared in Conflicts By Ari Rusila

 

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Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

August 1, 2012

Outside interventions to inner conflicts are part of daily news stream today. Where, when and how to intervene are the core of discussions. However from my point of view more weight should put to day after planning. In Balkans there is still frozen conflicts; Iraq, Afghanistan and many conflicts in Africa are most recent or still ongoing theatres, Syria and many more are coming soon on the table.

Recent trend in international politics seems to be different separatist movements around the globe. Kosovo’s unilateral proclamation of independence from Serbia February 2008 played a key role in these developments, which already has been seen in Bolivia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia and probably many more waiting to spark. This trend has big potential to expand, because it is estimated that there is about five thousand ethnic groups on globe. The situation puts pressure to develop the effectiveness of future – if not even existing – civil crisis management operations.

Transformation ongoing

International crisis management has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. Its expansion in terms of tasks and timelines and the increasing number of actors involved have made effective coordination of activities an urgent priority. As a result the idea of a Comprehensive Approach has been adopted by many states and international organizations. However, recent efforts to implement it have shown mixed results. There is need to shift focus from tactical level – dashing from skirmish to skirmish trying to control a crisis – to strategic level with a more comprehensive and systemic approach to resolving the mess.

If traditional peacekeeping focused on containment and reduction of military escalation, contemporary crisis management aims at a social, reach a comprehensive conflict resolution. This increasing set of tasks coincides with expanding time-lines of crisis management. In conceptual and practical terms crisis management spans today from the initial phase of conflict prevention, the actual crisis management encompassing humanitarian intervention, peace building and peacekeeping to post-conflict management.

Definition of the Problem

Whilst there is no commonly accepted definition for ‘Comprehensive Approach’, there is broad agreement that it implies pursuing an approach aimed at integrating the political, security, development, rule of law, human rights and humanitarian dimensions of international missions. It can be linked to different degrees of coherence for inter-agency relationships, namely Coherence, Cooperation, Collaboration & Coordination and Coexistence, where various actors may operate in a more or less comprehensive fashion, depending on their motivations, identities and organizational independence (Source:Comprehensive Approach-Challenges and opportunities in complex crisismanagement. Karsten Friis & Pia Jarmyr(eds); NUPI, 2008.).

It can be linked also to the Whole-of-Government Approach where there is an emphasis on objectives shared across organisational boundaries, as opposed to working solely within a ministry. WGA has been developed particularly in the context of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee and its Fragile States Group (Source: Whole of Government Approaches to Fragile States, DAC Guidelines and referenceseries, ADAC referencedocument, OECD, 2006.)

From my point of view I would rule out some military strategies from the context of this kind of crisis management problem. For example COIN strategey implemented in Afghanistan by U.S. is clear application of military strategy. It has some civil crisis management components which however act more like decoration and not as an essential element.

Strategic aim

The approach of needed study could be described as “bottom up” perspective, where the problem is defined from the point of view of field level experiences. It is important to note, that civil crisis management issue is not – or shouldn’t be – an extension of military peace-forcing operation; it is an integral part of international development aid programs in overall and in particular with peace-building activities.

Earlier some donors gave money to build school in some Kosovo village. School was ready, nice photograph for donors’ media was taken, report confirmed that building was made ok, also tendering procedures were made with some standards, audit did not find anything special. So perfect project to satisfy donor? No one pointed attention to a small detail that there was no pupils for the brand new school. Similar examples are bridges, roads and swimming pools middle of no where, housing for returns (empty because people are not returning or going away immediately).(Source: Donors & field: Will Kosovo rise with 2 bn bucks?)

Perfect report does not mean that something positive development has happened on the field. The lesson learned from “bottom up” –approach could be the shift of focus from the issues made in right way to right issues, where vision, objective, strategy, implementation, feed back and especially commitment of beneficiary groups and project management have more important role in evaluation of operations than before.

The main components

For developing a more effective approach to issue of civilian crisis management different aspects – such as organizational questions, reporting practice, or evaluation process – can be more or less highlighted. It is possible also to have focus on improvement of situation analysis, developing field experience feedback during missions or applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission planning procedure.

One possible component could be applying Logical Framework Approach through the process. LogFrame is used in most EU projects, but individual donors have their preferences. LogFrame describes objectives, action lines, how individual projects are implementing the objective and how the success can be measured. There is also some flexibility according feed back during implementation. Special need at individual project and local level is also use there Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions. Applying these two practices can make new approach more vigorous.

Resources and method

Comprehensive Approach is quite modern trend in international studies of peacekeeping operations or civil crisis management. Few seminar reports and researches are however available and they can help while connecting this study to wider theoretical context. Different mission reports can describe the viewpoint which the top officials are giving to the top policy makers. The most valuable source is field reports such as OSCE municipal profiles and analyses, CIMIC reports etc. because they are describing situation on the ground. The best source and research method would be participatory observation and interviews of fieldworkers.

As a follow-up it is possible to link and compare the study with other core concepts and instruments at strategic-political level in different countries or organizations, such as

  • UN: Capstonedoctrine (2008), Integrated missions (2006)
  • EU: CMCO (2003), Crisis Management Procedures CMP (2003), Crisis Management Concept (individual mission)
  • Nato: Comprehensive Approach Actionplan (2008), Effects Based Approach to Operations – EBAO (2006)
  • Germany: White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr (2006), Action Plan “Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution, and Peace Consolidation” (2004)
  • Britain: Conflict Prevention Pool – CPP (2004/8), Comprehensive Approach (2004)

(More about this context in CSS Analyses,Vol.3 • No.42 • October 2008, Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich)

It is also possible to link study to concepts and instruments at mission level or to development of a comprehensive crisis management is a cyclical activity.

Bottom line

Today there is a lot of information and feedback from different crisis management missions around the world; there is also experiece which methods are working on the ground and especially which are not. In my opinion there is urgent need to develop civilian crisis management by studying lessons learned to find best – and worst – practices from different missions. In Balkans there is still frozen conflicts; Iraq, Afghanistan and many conflicts in Africa are most recent or still ongoing theatres, Syria and many more are coming soon on the table. LogFrame approach by using participatory planning methods could show way towards quality peace.

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More e.g. in my related articles:

Interventions in general: R2P vs Facades of Interventions, Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? , Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation? , Quality Peace? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan? andAfghanistan – to be or not?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. allies (More e.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution )

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 ( High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia)

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis


Will (East) Jerusalem be the End of Two-State Illusion?

March 29, 2010

If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence.
If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.

(In an email from the Baltimore Zionist Division)

Diplomacy is the art of conducting international relations with tact and skill in an effort to form alliances and agreements, whereas hypocrisy is the practice of professing false virtues. (Ophir Falk)

Since last Gaza War on December 2008 the peace process of Israeli-Palestine conflict is going backwards again. Hamas is firing its qassams to Israel and Israel Defence Force responds; Palestine authority is still missing, Israel government has more hardliners than before and International community is making their hypocritical useless statements without any new initiative or an outline for the future; even U.S.-Israeli relations have declined due Israeli building projects in East Jerusalem.

It should be remembered that in 1918, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Britain and France were handed more than 5,000,000 square miles to divvy up and 99% was given to the Arabs to create countries that did not exist previously. Less than 1% was given as a Mandate for the re-establishment of a state for the Jews on both banks of the Jordan River. In 1921, to appease the Arabs once again, another three quarters of that less than 1% was given to a fictitious state called Trans-Jordan. (Jack Berger, May 31, 2004.)

Settlements as dividing factor

A few years ago the people of Israel voted for a government that dismantled 10,000 Jewish homes in the hope for peace. The dismantlement led to disaster and instead of peace – Israeli civilians were targeted by Palestinian missiles. Last year the people of Israel voted for a government that wants to build homes rather than destroy them.


The halt to settlement construction is a key demand by the Quartet of Mideast negotiators who are trying to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel has agreed to curb settlement construction in the West Bank, but not in east Jerusalem, claiming the entire city as Israel’s eternal capital.

Before discussing the settlements, Jerusalem and other final-status issues Palestinian Authority PA) should recognize Israel’s basic right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. After that the PA could come to an agreement with Israel, and finally set the border lines. Once the borders are set, then Israel will not support building of settlements in the PA area.

Settlements Established and Evacuated 1967-2008 -map (Foundation for Middle East Peace)

Jerusalem

The announcement of a routine planning approval for 1,600 dwellings in the East Jerusalem settlement neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo precipitated a crisis in U.S. – Israel relations, especially when information of project came during U.S. VP Bidens visit in Israel. U.S. as well later EU condemned this latest dwelling project and for Palestine Authority settlements are regular excuse to skip negotiations.

In a defiant speech last week to the leading pro-Israel lobby in the United States, Israel PM Netanyahu said Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem are “an integral and inextricable part of modern Jerusalem … The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied … The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital”.

East Jerusalem’ is not only the Old City. The eastern section of Jerusalem is larger than the western section (77 square kilometers vs. 45 square kilometers); it contains more than half the city`s residents, Jews and Arabs. In 1967, after occupying the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, the government of Israel annexed East Jerusalem and an additional tract of Palestinian land; Israel applied Israeli law to the eastern parts of the city, and granted residency rights to 66,000 Palestinians registered by census as its inhabitants. This status is different from citizenship: it does not enable its holders to participate in national elections and can be revoked at the discretion of the Ministry of Interior. Two legal systems apply to East Jerusalem residents: IHL (the laws of occupation), and Israeli law. (My source and more from JNews )

Jerusalem expansion plans -map (Foundation for Middle East Peace)

Jerusalem-map-march-2010-copy-784x1024

There was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem since 1860. Jews lived all over Jerusalem, and fought courageously in the War of Independence in 1948 to maintain their hold on it but in the end lost many lives and the east part of the city. That is when it was divided for the first time.

Israelis divide the Palestinians to five communities, as a means of control. There are the Israeli Palestinians, who are full Israeli citizens, enjoy the right to vote and have delegates in the Knesset. There are the East Jerusalemites who are not citizens, but have only resident permits and who are separated from the West Bank by the wall. There are the West Bank Palestinians who live in the five percent of the West Bank on the west side of the wall that Israel has, de facto, annexed to Israel, but who are also cut off from Jerusalem and forbidden to visit Israel. There are the West Bank Palestinians to the east of the wall. And there are the Palestinians in Gaza.


One vs. Two States

So far resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has had two options on the top of agenda. The first is aim of two states for two peoples and the second is a bi-national Palestinian-Israeli state in which Palestinians and Israelis would have equal rights or a Palestinian-Israeli confederation, in which two states share joint political institutions – a one-sate option.

The two-state solution is becoming more and more impossible by the day as Israel continues to build more and more settlements on Palestinian lands. There is hardly enough land to form a viable Palestinian state at this time as it is. But judging by the actions of the settlement movement and its supporters, the one-state solution seems to be the preferred solution. However the Israeli and Palestinian definitions of a two state solution are very different. Palestinian idea of a two-state solution may be supported but only if the border is the 1967 border and refugees are given the right of return, an Israeli viewpoint can be different with these two aspects.

In Israel there is a group that believes that a bi-national state is inevitable because with Jewish and Palestinian communities so entangled in the West Bank, it will be almost impossible to divide them. However same time there is some base to claim that there is too much animosity and dehumanization among the Palestinian population that would make a peaceful co-existence between them and Israelis virtually impossible.

If one would like to take a cynical point of view so a de facto one state is the current reality on the ground. Israel rules all mandatory Palestine from Jordan to the Mediterranean. There is one regime based on ethnicity and security and Israeli control. Progress towards two-state solution seems unlikely.

Projection of Israel’s West Bank Partition plan 2008 -map (Foundation for Middle East Peace)

is_v18n3_map_west_bank_partition

Population transfers as pragmatic solution

If some ethnic groups hate each other and when both can base their views and claims to selected parts of hundreds or thousands of years so basically there only two peaceful solutions: to train tolerance for generations developing same time living conditions or separate the groups by ethnic lines.

After WWII Germans moved e.g. from Poland inside new borders. Finland settled some 10 % of its population from territories occupied by the Soviet Union, which from its side transferred new population to new regions. Israel itself is mainly settled by immigrants and e.g. in last twenty years over half a million people with some Jewish origin has come from ex-Soviet Union. In smaller scale more or less forced population transfers have been emptying Jewish colonies in Gaza. To be successful these kind of population transfers must be supported by effective re-settlement programmes.

More or less forced population transfers

(Data mostly taken from Ben-Dror Yemini, MidEast Truth Forum, January 15, 2009)

Within less than a century, between 7 million and 10 million Balkan refugees have been uprooted from their homes. After WW2, between 12-16 million Germans were forced out of Sudentenland (Czechoslovakia), Romania, Hungary and Poland into Germany; many of them had not supported the Nazis during the war. 14 million people were exchanged between Hindu India and Moslem Pakistan.

In 1994, 540,000 Moslems fled Christian Armenia for Azerbaijan and 360,000 Armenian Christians fled Azerbaijan for Armenia. As Israel did with the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, Armenia absorbed the Christian refugees, while — just like the Arab refugees from Israel — the Moslem refugees languish in Azerbaijani refugee camps.

From the late ’80s on, 75,000 non-Moslem blacks from Mauritania were exiled to Senegal and Mali, while 75,000 Arabs fled to Mauritania. Ethnic conflicts in the Sudan continue — between Muslim Arabs and black animists in the South; and between Muslim Arabs and black Muslims in Darfur. 3 t0 4 million black farmers of Darfur have fled Arab-dominated Khartoum, where some 200,000 to 400,000 black Muslims have already been killed.

Cyprus has been split between Christian Greeks and Moslem Turks; this included a population exchange, where 200,000 Greeks and 50,000 Turks were shifted.

Even before Israel became a state and increasingly after that, more than 800,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab countries, where many of them had lived way before the Arabs Conquest; most of them came to Israel.

When it became a state in 1948, Arabs left to avoid the coming war, fled in fear incited by their own press or were forced by their leaders to leave Israel. The Arabs claim 650,000-750,000 up to a million refugees, while the UN Acting Mediator in October, 1948 set it at 472,000, of which 360,000 required aid (UNRWA is now supporting 4.5 million of their “descendants”.) Of all the refugees, only these Arabs have demanded the right of return.

More about issues e.g. in my article “Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out?


Three-State Option?

I wonder why there is not more discussion about a “three-state” approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. From my point of view this solution could also be more economically sustainable than other options. It could be a bit further developed by making a buffer zone between Israel and hard-liners in Gaza. From my point of view the best way to do this is to relocate population from Gaza some 50-100 km SW to Sinai. There is possible to build new infrastructure instead again repairing existing one. With good planning and implementing economic-social programmes backed with sufficient international Aid money it is possible also to create more sustainable economy than today’s Gaza. More in “The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict”.


My Conclusions

If the EU would stop propping up Hamas and the PA with money and verbal support, there might actually be a chance of peace. Why should the Palestinians want to settle with Israel when they can line their pockets, buy the latest weaponry, and maintain their “clients” by holding out and continuing to receive support from the EU?” (Talkback Ynet)

The failure of U.S. in promoting the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians may be related to fact that again the plans are made on Washington’s drawing board without understanding regional circumstances and mentality in the Middle East; the growing gap between reality and idealistic day-to-day politics is now demonstrated not only as strain in the U.S. Israel relationship but also as declining U.S. credibility among Palestinians.

The same – as U.S. foreign policy – can be said about EU’s foreign policy (if one can found that some where). EU does not seems to have any vision nor strategy and initiatives for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Modest attempts to use carrots (squandering aid to capacity building in West bank and Gaza) and no use of sticks (e.g. embargo) reduce EU’s foreign policy activities to empty statements (“The European Union has condemned all the settlement activities”).

From my viewpoint the basic truth of the matter still stands: Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that holds free elections, enables freedom of speech and cherishes similar values to those of average European and American people. This said I must add that there is not only a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but a battle between those who believe in a mixed, tolerant and non-racial society, and the forces of ultra-nationalism in both Israel and Palestine.


The bottom line: Quality Peace

I would like to conclude that instead of rigid high-flown statements and dead road maps international community should facilitate the Middle East peace process through following three principles


  • Negotiations will be restored without prior conditions.
  • The talks should be implemented by local stakeholders, not under supervision of outside powers
  • The international community – outside powers – should support any common agreed outcome of talks e.g. with financial aid programs

This approach means that an outcome – which I describe with term quality peace – is not possible to achieve imposed from top to field e.g forced by international community or other outsiders; with that kind of approach one can only freeze the conflict not solve it. The only way for quality peace is through motivation or at least commitment of individual, clan, community, ethnic groups, wider society or state to resolve conflicts through dialogue by acceptance and at least tolerance of differences. (More in my article “Quality Peace”)



Quality Peace?

September 21, 2009

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace. (Tacitus, ca. 56 – ca. 117)

On 21 September 1980 Iraq launched a full-scale invasion of Iran, which was the beginning of an 8-year-long bloody war between the two countries. Ironically the International Day of Peace occurs annually on September 21st. It is dedicated to peace, or specifically the absence of war, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone. Peace is a nice, positive word as well actions to develop it. While world is now celebrating International Peace Day it is good opportunity to look a bit deeper different aspects of peace, which from my point view can be a frozen conflict at worst and a quality peace at its best.

Peace has many definitions. Most common maybe are that it is tranquility, stillness; freedom from contention, violence or war; treaty that ends a war. It is a term that most commonly refers to an absence of hostility; “freedom from civil disorder”. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually to notable peacemakers those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations”. Some times it is hard to find connection between the original idea of Nobel Prize and the actual Nobel laureates (about last selection I wrote articles “Do you hear Mr Nobel rolling in his grave” and “500000 bodies or die”)

Quality peace?

To make more mess-up to interpretation of word peace I would like to put one more dimension on the table, an aspect which I call “Quality peace”. With adding quality aspect to definition I try connect peace closer to reality and take it farther away to be only nice word in statements and in high policy. With quality I also understand some degree of sustainability in contrast to Peace Treaties which are forgotten before signature ink is dry.

Since classical times, it has been noted that peace has sometimes been achieved by the victor over the vanquished by the imposition of ruthless measures. Events in Balkans give a good example. After bloody war in Bosnia Dayton agreement brought peace. It was possible because before Dayton the war (1992-95) had almost finished ethnic cleansing/transfer of populations so drawing new administrative boundaries according ethnic groups was not big deal. One can show from statistics that also in Kosovo prevails peace. Why, not because there is multi-ethnic and tolerant society, but because other than Albanian ethnic groups were kicked out to enclaves, north Kosovo or totally out from province. (More e.g. In my article “…Pogrom with Prize”)

Sometimes I have heard claim that democracy could guarantee peace. The challenge to develop higher quality peace is unfortunately more complex. For instance, some one has calculated that the most democratic and the most authoritarian states have few civil wars and intermediate regimes the most. However even peace does not spread democracy, spreading democracy is likely to spread peace.

Peace can mean


  • totalitarian state based to fear and some milder cases economical benefits with low crime records (excluding state-terror which is not recognized as crime)
  • peaceful society (totalitarian dictatorship) can be seen as thread to other societies and this can erupt as violence even war (like peaceful North Korea)
  • keeping peace by international community or outsiders which takes the responsibility out from hands of locals
  • achieving peace at the expense of civil liberties, human rights, multi-cultural or multi-ethnic society
  • structural violence where the peace in society is made through institutionalized elitism, ethnocentrism, racism, sexism or other similar means
  • Mutual assured destruction (MAD) where nuclear weapons have main role in maintaining peace ( e.g. especially during the Cold War)
  • frozen conflict

From peace to quality peace

With quality peace I understand an antithesis to bullet-points above. The core element from my point of view is throughout bottom-up approach. This means that quality peace is not possible to achieve imposed from top to field e.g forced by international community or other outsiders; with that kind of approach one can only freeze the conflict not solve it.

The only way for quality peace is through motivation or at least commitment of individual, clan, community, ethnic groups, wider society or state to resolve conflicts through dialogue by acceptance and at least tolerance of differences.

On the field of international politics there nowadays is lot of discussion about active peace methods including peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building. From my point of view these practices can not bring peace from outside, they are effective only through local participation and commitment. I can accept preventing genocide by outside intervention – it does not solve origins of conflict but can anyway at its best facilitate further peaceful development because if people are alive they have at least minimal opportunity to implement other aims – even quality peace as outermost goal.

Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Note – Background of this article

This article is my contribution to Restore Trust – Rebuild Bridges Campaign implemented online on 9/11 2009. Campaign is a call for civil society action in favor of dialogue launched by the Anna Lindh Foundation and the UN Alliance of Civilizations. Initiatives are aimed at promoting a culture of coexistence and peace in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Last July a Euromed Bloggers Training on Intercultural dialogue was held in Luxembourg, and the 18 bloggers agreed to launch a one shot online campaign for restoring trust and rebuilding bridges e.g. on 9/11 as to counter the hatred discourse generated on this date associated with the assassination of Anna Lindh, the formal minister of foreign affairs of Sweden and with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.




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