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H. Bar: Address to World Summit 2015

Address to World Summit 2015, Seoul, Korea, August 27 to 31, 2015

Dear and honorable friends,

On July 27 I launched at the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) my diplomatic outline for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The outline was launched with the Israeli opposition leader, Member of Knesset Isaac Herzog, and more than 25 members of the Knesset, along with over 450 participants from across the nation.

I'm here to share with you some of the ideas of my diplomatic outline and to speak about our conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Is it solvable? I believe it is—and it's only up to us, both leaderships.

Since last summer it has been clear beyond any doubt that the “conflict management” policy of the Israeli right-wing government has been an abject failure. I'll tell you why:

Because the rounds of fighting and continual “operations” in Gaza have become an impossible routine for the residents in Israel’s South and, by all means—for the Gazans.

Because Jerusalem is on the verge of a third intifada,

Because security experts are predicting an intense escalation in the North, worse than ever before.

Because Israeli deterrence has taken a hit and because Israel is slowly, slowly facing a growing problem in its stand in the international community.

But, worst of all, because Israel is marching inexorably toward becoming a binational state. My friends, conflicts are not meant to be managed, conflicts are meant to be solved!
A brave leadership, on both sides, should not "manage" the conflict—a brave leadership should try to END the conflict!

The two-state solution is the only possible solution for Israel and for the Palestinians.
This is the solution that the Israeli government must advance; the two-state solution is a paramount Israeli and Palestinian strategic objective.

The dire alternative is a binational state, a prospect that would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and the end of the Palestinians’ dream for a state of their own.
Today we are still in a situation in which most Israelis and most Palestinians believe in the two-state solution.

Currently, only the radical fringe Right and Left believe in the shared binational state “solution.” We must not allow these fringe extremists to impose this very wrong solution on us, a solution that a majority on both sides do not want.

The oft-repeated right-wing mantra that “there is no partner for peace” is, as I see it, an excuse for inaction and constitutes an evasion of responsibility.

In war and in conflict, the "partner" is your adversary, your enemy—and it is not a nice partner usually.

I once asked our prime minister in the Knesset, “What kind of partner are you looking for on the Palestinian side?”

Are you looking for a Palestinian president who will be a great Zionist? One who will have an Israeli flag behind his office desk? You will never find one.

And to tell the truth, my friends … it is also up to us to try to turn the other side into a better partner.

We did it before with bigger and stronger enemies than the Palestinians—namely Egypt and Jordan. The Egyptians and the Jordanians wasn't "perfect partners."

But it took brave and determined leadership to help make them into partners.
This is the exact leadership we need today—on both sides!

But, my friends, the attempts to resolve the conflict have failed so far not only due to a dearth of leadership on both sides but also as a result of three major failures:

Failure No. 1: The attempt to advance a resolution to the conflict solely through bilateral negotiations was effectively putting all our eggs in one basket.

Till today—there have been either negotiations or, in their absence, a total diplomatic deadlock that fueled polarization and incitement. That was a mistake.

Failure No. 2: The attempt to deal with issues of a markedly regional character through the Israeli-Palestinian track alone was fundamentally wrong.

The Palestinians do not necessarily have the ability to reach all of the decisions by themselves, particularly on issues that clearly affect other regional stakeholders (issues such as borders, refugees, Jerusalem, etc.).

Failure No. 3: Prior to the Netanyahu era, negotiations were overly focused on the tangible dimension (borders, settlements, dividing Jerusalem and the like), whereas in the Netanyahu era there has been an almost exclusive focus on intangible issues such as identity and national recognition, while discussion of those more tangible aspects of the conflict was virtually almost ignored.

We have to learn from these three mistakes—and fix our path to peace.
Lessons of the past teach us that, in parallel with diplomatic efforts, a “positive momentum” toward the two-state solution also must be created.

For example: In parallel with direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Israel should establish a regional dialogue that includes an official Israeli response to the Arab League Initiative.

With the support of moderate Arab states, the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state, including an arrangement on the demilitarization and future control of Gaza, will improve Israel’s security.

Dealing with the issue of borders and arriving at a mutual recognition between the two nation-states will occur within the framework of sincere and determined bilateral negotiations, while making mutual concessions, but it can and should happen with the support of countries in the Arab world and the West.

My outline suggests that the agreement between us and the Palestinians also will promote the principle of privileged access for visiting, worship and travel by each side at places of special importance to the other side, thereby also promoting business, economic, scientific and academic cooperation between the two states.

An economically strong and successful Palestinian state—is also an Israeli interest.
After an agreement—the solution to the resettlement of the Palestinian refugees is to be found outside the final borders of the state of Israel and inside the newly created Palestinian State.
And I do offer—that there will be mutual national recognition between the nation-state of the Jewish people—in Israel—and the nation-state of the Palestinian people—in the Palestinian State.

Each of the states will recognize and protect the rights, security and dignity of minorities dwelling in its territory.

I also suggest that an effort will be made to involve the religious leadership on both sides in the process and to ensure, as far as possible, that the agreement will accord with the religious views of both peoples.

In parallel with the diplomatic effort to reach an agreement, Israel also must take interim measures that simultaneously will increase the chances of getting to a final status accord.

Such measures can and should include:

  1. formal recognition by Israel of the Palestinian State, with special restrictions to ensure it does not prejudge future negotiations over the characteristics of the Israeli or of the Palestinian State;
  2. a first official Israeli response to the Arab Peace Initiative;
  3. stabilizing the Gaza ceasefire and transferring control of the Strip to the Palestinian State;
  4. a far-reaching diplomatic response to the unstable reality in Jerusalem;
  5. the taking of practical steps that would shape a "two-state reality" on the ground, prior to the permanent status agreement being achieved.

In my outline I suggest such measures.

My friends, our relations with our neighbors are dialectical. We are affected by them, and they by us.

Israel and the Palestinians must produce a leadership that strives to resolve the conflict, rather than simply “manage” it.

A leadership that understands the deep interdependence between us, Israel, and our neighbors.

A leadership that works on the basis of clear objectives and a clear strategy suited to the achievement of those objectives.

Israel must produce a leadership that understands what the Zionist idea really is, and that the two-state solution is the only solution that will ensure that Israel will continue to exist as a Jewish and democratic state … a state that takes its rightful place in the community of nations and in the Middle East.

The outline I presented this month at the Knesset provides a robust basis for a final status, “end of all claims” agreement between us and the Palestinians.

The proposed outline is the product of the two years I served as chair of the Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict (the “Two States Lobby”), two years during which I met with dozens of Israeli, Palestinian, and foreign officials, experts, as well as with many elements in the Arab world.

I believe that this proposal can serve as an appropriate Israeli outline for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … and I believe it to be an important step toward resolving significant parts of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I urge you, my friends, to study this initiative, to discuss it and share it with the people you know.

It is our responsibility to gain the people’s support for a brave leadership and for policies that are proactive, measured and resolute; a leadership that will bring Israel out of the current political stalemate and lead it toward a brighter future and toward the only outcome to which Israel must strive: two states for two peoples, through an “end of all mutual claims” final status agreement.

This effort must be made for our sake, for the Palestinians' sake, for the sake of Israel’s future, and for the sake of future generations.

It is possible, and it is in our hands!

Shalom, Salam, Peace.

For more information about the World Summit, click here.