Meretz, the Israeli left-wing party, has announced a five-year peace plan with the Palestinians to replace the Oslo agreement. Under the plan, Israel would help Palestine to be accepted as the 194th member state of the UN and be the first to recognise it.
According to the party leader, Zahava Gal-On, the time frame for the new proposal is only five years, allowing for one year of negotiations after which both sides would implement the expected understandings gradually during the remaining four years.
In order to save time, Gal-On suggests that negotiations have to start without blaming anyone for the current stalemate in the peace process. “Without starting discussions about who is guilty, Oslo has to be superseded by a new framework,” she said. “A Palestinian state is in Israel’s interests so Israel should be the first to support it in the UN and recognise it.”
The plan suggests that Israel should not have pre-conditions to the conflict resolution which, according to the plan, is based on ending the 1967 occupation. There would be an agreed land swap and an Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem in compliance with the principles set out by ex-US president Bill Clinton. Settlements in Jerusalem would stay under Israeli control, while the Arab neighbourhoods will be part of the new Palestinian State. Special arrangements would take care of all the holy places in the Old City.
Gal-On said that an immediate freeze of settlement activity by Israel will be needed to push-start the negotiation process.
With regards to Israel’s relationship with the Arabs, the plan calls for the adoption of the entire Arabic Peace Initiative in parallel with negotiations with the Palestinians over a final resolution for the conflict.
On Syria, the Meretz plan says that Israel should seek a peace agreement with an incoming Syrian government on the basis of Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, which would become a demilitarised zone. This has to be guaranteed by the international community, especially the US.
The purpose of the plan, explained Gal-On, is to fill the political void which prompts unilateral Palestinian activities at the UN or may cause a new intifada. She argued that when Israel-Palestine negotiations are in place, the pro-Palestinian “automatic majority” in the UN will disappear.