Former Israeli security chiefs propose new peace initiative

Posted: April 5, 2011 by Rex Brynen in Israel, peace process

This could be interesting, especially given who is involved in the process:

Former Israeli security chiefs have drafted a new peace plan they hope to use as a platform to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to renew deadlocked talks with the Palestinians.

A spokesman confirmed the outline of the plan on Tuesday, saying it was based on a 2002 Arab initiative which Israel has avoided adopting because of its call to repatriate refugees and fully withdraw from land captured in a 1967 war.

About 40 prominent Israelis backed the project, among them dovish former political leaders as well as former heads of the Mossad, Shin Bet and Israeli military, who say they will publicize their ideas fully on Wednesday.

The plan has been devised “in light of the dramatic events in the Middle East” — an allusion to popular uprisings against autocratic rulers in the Arab world flaring since January — and was meant to urge the government to “immediately renew peace talks,” a statement issued by the group said.

The group includes ex-army chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former Mossad head Danny Yatom and Shin Bet directors Yaakov Perry and Ami Ayalon, as well as ex-general and Labor Party chief Amram Mitzna, a prime ministerial candidate in the 2002 election.

Although it isn’t supposed to be officially released until tomorrow, the New York Times already has the full text of the “Israel Peace Initiative.” With regard to the refugee issue, the proposal:

  • Emphasizes the finality of all claims.
  • Recognizes the suffering of Palestinian and Jewish refugees, although it does not accept any Israeli responsibility for the former.
  • Accepts the Arab Peace Initiative as the basis for regional peace negotiations.
  • Calls for compensation to be paid to Palestinian refugees and host states by the international community and Israel. (It does not explicitly call for compensation for Jewish refugees.)
  • Contains a passing reference to UNGAR 194, but limits “return” to the territory of the Palestinian state, other than limited symbolic return to Israel.

The key refugee sections of the initiative (from the preamble and refugee section respectively) are excerpted below:

Reaffirming that Israel’s strategic objective is to reach a historic compromise and permanent status agreements that shall determine the finality of all claims and the end of the Israeli Arab conflict, in order to achieve permanent and lasting peace, lasting and guaranteed security, regional economic prosperity and normal ties with all Arab and Islamic states,

• Recognizing the suffering of the Palestinian refugees since the 1948 war as well as of the Jewish refugees from the Arab countries, and realizing the need to resolve the Palestinian refugees problem through realistic and mutually agreed-upon solutions,

• Realizing that wide-scale multilateral economic cooperation is essential in order to ensure the prosperity of the Middle East, its environmental sustainability and the future of its peoples,

• Recognizing the Arab Peace Initiative of March 2002 (API) as a historic effort made by the Arab states to reach a breakthrough and achieve progress on a regional basis, and sharing the API statement “that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties,”

Therefore Israel accepts the API as a framework for regional peace negotiations and presents the IPI as an integrated response to the API, and as a vision of the regional final-status agreements to be negotiated and signed between the Arab states, the Palestinians and Israel, based on the following proposed principles…

 

Refugees – The solutions for the Palestinian refugees shall be agreed upon between Israel, the Palestinians and all regional parties in accordance with the following principles: Financial compensation shall be offered to the refugees and the host countries by the international community and Israel; the Palestinian refugees wishing to return (as mentioned in UNGAR 194) may do so only to the Palestinian state, with mutually agreed-upon symbolic exceptions who will be allowed to return to Israel.

For the full text, see the link above.

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