Simon Hughes said this year, “We are near to the end of the opportunity of being able to get a peaceful two-state solution because of the extent of the settlements. The separation of Gaza from the West Bank and the increasing encroachment of the settlements mean that an alternative to the two-state model must be explored. We need to be honest and realistic about having a Plan B and a Plan C as well as a Plan A, as an international community.”
Lib Dem policy supports a two state solution. Outlined here is what I believe the International community could support, as a basis for a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement.
A. Securing the peace with Israel’s neighbours
- Peace treaty with Syrian National Council based on return of Golan Heights to the post-Assad Syria.
- Repatriation of Israeli settlers not wishing to remain in Syria and transfer of vacated housing stock to Syrian administration to assist with resettlement of Palestinian refugees wishing to stay in Syria.
- Negotiation of WMD Free Zone in the Middle East, to include Israel, Iran and the Arab states, that renounces the possession of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in the region; that brings Israel into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
and secures Iranian acceptance of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s additional protocols.
- Consolidation of existing peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan
B. Guarantee of Israel’s security
- Rapprochement between Turkey and Israel with a view to Israel’s accession to NATO, as proposed in Haaretz: Bring Israel into NATO
- Normalisation of Israel’s association agreements with the European Union and pathway for accession to EU membership.
C. The Two State Solution
- Independent Palestinian State with the West Bank and Gaza linked by road and rail, based on pre-1967 borders (the green line).
- Shared capital in Jerusalem – West Jerusalem to Israel, East Jerusalem (the area beyond the Green Line) to Palestine.
- No automatic right of return to Israel territory for Palestinian refuges. Provision to be made for family reunification, humanitarian cases and work permits based on normal immigration rules.
- Voluntary repatriation of Israeli settlers not wishing to remain in Palestine.
- Transfer of vacated housing stock to Palestinian authority to assist with resettlement of Palestinian Diaspora seeking a return to Palestine.
- The repatriation of returning Israeli settlers could be undertaken over a five-year period. Within two years of signing a treaty, Israel and Palestine would conclude any land swap arrangements that they can mutually agree upon.
- Joint administration of holy places based on Clinton principles ( The Jerusalem Problem: The Search for Solutions)
- In the absence of agreement within two years, the default position will be the green line borders.
As Israel goes to the Polls in January and Palestinians consider the ability of their leaders to deliver peace – they would do well to recall the words of Winston Churchill:
“Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war.”
* Joe Bourke is an accountant, former parliamentary candidate and Treasurer of Hounslow Liberal Democrats