Jerusalem Peace & Security Forum

Jerusalem Peace & Security Forum: Israel's Plan B for Solving the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis

Jerusalem, Israel - Prof. Eliezer Glaubach, president of the Jerusalem Peace and Security Forum, opened the April 13, 2014, discussion on the central political issue of conflicts in the Middle East and Israel’s “plan B” for solving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis in the face of the failure of US Secretary of State John’s Kerry’s efforts.

Albert Einstein once said that the world is a dangerous place to live in, not because of those who do evil but because of those who do not do anything about it. The purpose of this forum was to examine the current situation and to suggest a future plan in the belief that seeds sown for peace now will bear fruits in the future.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar, from the Department of Arabic Literature in Bar-Ilan University, focused on the gap between the western way of thinking and oriental culture, pointing out that loyalty in the orient and in the Arab world is based on a sense of belonging to the tribe rather than to the nation. He used the example of the civil war in Syria to prove his point. Kedar sees the Palestinian people as a group of tribes and clans rather than a nation. Since this is the case, he claimed that the western approach of negotiations with a Palestinian leader who, according to Kedar, does not represent all the Palestinians is wrong. Israel and the world should recognize and support local leadership in the Arab Palestinian population centers who desire lasting peaceful relations in order to promote a foundation of eight independent city-states: The eight Palestinian city-states would include the areas of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho, Tul-Karm, Kalkilya, the Arab part of Hebron and the Gaza strip (which has existed separately since June 2007). Local residents would become citizens of these eight independent emirates, and Israel should cooperate economically with these emirates. However, he did not include the Arabs who lived in Jerusalem in his solution.

Mr. Dani Rubinstein, a journalist and a lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, agreed with Kedar that among Palestinians the tribal structure is very strong. The Syria civil war is an example of a war between tribes, regardless of national boundaries. However, Rubinstein argued that Palestinian nationalism is the unifying factor for all the Palestinian tribes. "Half of the Palestinian people became refugees in 1948, and the Nakba narrative became a unifying factor" (Nakba describes the 1948 Palestinian exodus and means “plight” and "catastrophe"). Rubinstein supports the two-states solutions and sees no other route for peace. Interestingly, Rubinstein suggested a three-states solution, including Jordan because the border with Jordan is an artificial border, and a long-term, stable solution with the Palestinians must include Jordan.

Dr. Arie Geronik from the Department of Sociology, Political Science and Communication at the Open University of Israel said that he has learned from the Israeli author Amos Oz to differentiate between the war with the Palestinians and the war against Islamic fundamentalism. He said the solution for the conflict with the Palestinians is the "two-states” solution. Geronik suggested that fear of a second war prevents finding a solution for the first war.Therefore, any framework for peace between Israel and the Palestinians should include the entire Middle East.

Mr. Pinhas Inbari, a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,claimed that the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians under the patronage of the Americans keeps coming to a dead end because of the cultural gap between the Americans and the Middle East. In contrast, the solution should be worked out bilaterally between those who live in the Middle East and are acquainted with the mentality of the region, namely Israel and the Arab Peace Initiative. The two sides should seriously work together, away from the influence of the media, to find a solution. Once an agreement is formulated, it can be offered to the Americans for support.

Mr. Calev Ben-Dor from the Strategic Affairs Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussed questions which Israel must answers: do we want one country or two … or three? Which is better: a permanent agreement or an interim agreement? Who will be the partner on the other side: Hamas or PLO?

In conclusion, participants agreed that the Israelis should bring their own solutions. When they do so, the Americans will respect them. The least preferable situation is if the Israeli government does not bring any solutions; then the Americans will force unwanted solutions on Israel.

Paper by Arie Geronik

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