Armistice between Israel and Palestine

This continues: Time to leave the merrygoround of violence in the Middle East

There are some major issues arising from the armistice proposal which have to be addressed, even though not part of the proposed agreement itself.

a. Limitations on sovereignty

The Proposed agreement will leave the Palestinians with the West Bank, cleared of Israeli settlements, without the Gaza Strip, but with the addition of areas from Israel of almost exclusively Palestinian composition. The question of Jerusalem will probably have to await a peace treaty which could not reasonably be negotiated earlier than 5 years after an essentially continual armistice.

A fully independent Palestinian state may be possible for a short while. But with hostile actions emanating from Israel in retaliation for attacks from Palestinian territory which such a state could not possibly control, barring a general Middle Eastern peace treaty, there would be only 2 outcomes: a total breakdown of the armistice or a puppet government.

On the other hand a sovereign Palestinian nation with state sovereignity, limited by Israeli security concerns,  is fully possible, but only with far reaching  Israeli concessions in return.

What would this involve?

Israeli troops and customs checks at the borders of Palestine as at present. Nothing stronger than small arms in the hands of Palestinians. Israeli incursions in case of hostile actions of gravity.

b.  Advantages for Palestine of such limitations for the duration of the armistice.

I want to emphasize here that none of these advantages  that follow outweighs the limitations on sovereignity but may make them endurable if joined to suitable compensation while Palestine builds its own nation.

1 The entire government budget will be devoted to civilian needs. As a bonus, an armed coup will be much more difficult.

2 The government will be less liable to come into armed conflict with its own citizens or with fellow arabs, some of which would even be of Palestinian descent.

3 This however is not enough, if it is to be endurable, there has to be some compensatory limitation on Israeli sovereignty, which does not affect Israels security and other security neutral concessions as well.

What follows is not intended to be a realistic proposal but an exampel showing how to think about these matters.

1 Palestinian officials in Israel

Israel gives Palestine a monopoly on package tours of the IP area and considers breach of this as a threat to the armistice and state security. While having control of its own customs, Israel trains and pays for customs officers who are Palestinian nationals  at all access points, even Israeli airports and harbors. These officers will function more as travel agents than as customs officials. So among the first faces that a visitor to IP meets, will be Palestinian government officials bearing Palestinian national insignia.

2 Payment for damage

Violent actions from Palestine territory directed against Israel, will continue after the armistice for reasons noted in the main proposal. If the armistice is to be successful it cannot be a shield for such actions. This means that Israeli retaliations may continue. It is necessary therefore, if the armistice is to hold,  for Israel to agree to a neutral assessment of damage and compensation for non terrorist lives and property. This cannot be a part of the armistice agreement proper as it would imply that Palestine permits such retaliation. It should be a unilateral action by Israel as a consequence of such retaliations.

3 Generosity

When an armistice is signed, it is important that Israel as the more powerful of the signatories interprets the provisions as generously as possible, within the security limitations involved. The armistice is only the first step to the ending of this unfortunate conflict and it would be ridiculous to expend all this time and effort and have it fail due to petty execution or rigid interpretation.

4 Return of senior citizens

As an exemple of generosity is the return to Israel of senior citizens who are Palestinian nationals. Even with a peace treaty, it is an illusionto believe that Israel will ever consent to a “law of return” for Palestine, similar to the one applying to those of Jewish origin. However both as a gesture of good will and to relieve the Palestiniabn budget, a sizable number of such senior citizens should be permitted to settle in Israel. The number depending on the ebb and flow of economic conditions in Israel.

5 Economic support

If the two nations were at peace and a natural calamity would affect one of them, wouldn’t the other be a good neighbor and help the stricken one. It is useful to consider the long conflict as such a calamity which has weighed more heavily on Palestine than on Israel. On the other hand Israel would not be prepared to transfer funds which wind up in armaments or an offshore bank account. As an example: two wasys which would be difficult to divert improperly would be a certain percentage of the difference of percapita income between the two nations to be paid directly as a pension supplement and children’s allowances for the first 3 children.

c  Restrictions on the IP

1. No Palestinian nationals working in Israel.

The use of an external workforce from Palestine will in itself strain the armistice as much as to make it useless. A large group of people taking the worst jobs, confronting the greater prosperity of Israel each day and subject to Israeli culture is an unnecessary source of great conflict. Until both Israel and Palestine separately consider that the conflict is resolved (which would need a peace treaty at the very least) they should be kept apart.

2  The Wall – its armistice context

The wall was build to protect Israeli territory. Its section on the West Bank must be torn down before the armistice is signed. Neither part has yet reason enough to trust the promises of the other part. However I submit that it should be rebuilt on Israeli territory and only torn down there as the consequence of a peace treaty. Its function is to protect the security of Israel and  the independent development of the nation of Palestine.

Let us consider the situation of Palestine, After decades of struggle what of the Palestine of peace that the armistice would enable? How will it develop into a nation with its own ways, goals and destiny without being smothered by Israel and constantly having Israelis of Jewish and Palestinian origin as role models? It is bad enough that Palestine is under the Israeli media umbrella. To build itself as a nation it needs a period of benign neglect on the part of Israel.

Internationally it is a different matter. Neither carries enough weight by itself but together, with their joint history, they can mean something.

The above shows some of the consequences of an armistice and how they could be met.

The real solutions are of course a matter for direct negotiation.

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