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The Jewishness of the state in exchange for a state on paper

April 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

According to multiple sources, the relevant international decision-making capitals will launch a political and diplomatic campaign related to the peace process and two-state solution once Benjamin Netanyahu is finished forming his new government in the next two or three weeks. We know that there is currently a French draft resolution in the UN Security Council, and the Washington Post newspaper leaked news of a similar resolution proposed by the Obama administration to the international community, or rather, the administration instructed its friends to propose it in the hope that it would pressure Netanyahu’s fourth government, perhaps pushing it to respond to calls for peace and a final solution.

Predictions regarding the Israelis’ willingness and desire to end the occupation and enable the Palestinian people to establish their independent state on the 1967 borders are very pessimistic. There is a growing conviction amongst the European community, and even in the US, that there is no “Israeli partner” in the peace process. Of course, there are serious questions regarding the state of the “Palestinian partner” including the question regarding the future of the PA after Mahmoud Abbas and the issue of internal Palestinian divisions.

However, the predictions that still raise questions and divisions among observers and diplomats alike are those related to what Obama will be doing in the remaining 20 months of his term. Some believe that this is the “golden time” for any president who serves two consecutive terms to achieve a “breakthrough” in foreign policy dossiers. There is also some talk of “a window of opportunity” lasting eight months before the president becomes a “lame duck”. There is a camp that refers to Obama’s deep desire to pay Netanyahu back for his actions in Congress in the Security Council, while there are those who believe it will be very difficult for Obama to deal two heavy blows to Israel at the same time, i.e. the nuclear deal with Iran and an international peace resolution. The opinions and predictions are endless in this regard.

The new strings in the game are becoming clearer and emerging from the rubble of all the regional crises, conflicts and wars. They are suggesting that the Security Council will be the scene for the regional-international discussion of the peace process and two-state solution. Such an endeavour is concerning to Israel but satisfies the Palestinian leadership who are leaning towards the option of “internationalising” the issue rather than exclusively relying on the US, which it has done for the past 25 years of the peace process, to no avail.

However, the Palestinian leadership must not expect this to be a “leisurely stroll” down the halls of the United Nations Security Council. The French-American-British discussions likely revolve around the following themes:

First, the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with limited and agreed upon land swaps so as to overcome the obstacle of the large settlements. Unfortunately, the PA accepted this matter in the bilateral negotiations with Israel, and therefore, there is nothing that leads us to believe that the PA will reject it in principle. Instead, discussions will probably revolve around numbers and percentages, as well as the issue parity in the quantity and quality of the swapped land.

The second issue to be discussed is that of Jerusalem as a joint capital for both states, and this is just a different spin on “East Jerusalem” being the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Thirdly, the solution of the refugee issue by means of a mutual agreement; this was accepted by the PA during the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 and in successive bilateral negotiations.

The most dangerous matter with this diplomatic action is that it stems from accepting the need to recognise the “Jewish State”. It has been said that France wants to pass this issue in its draft resolution by referring to Resolution 181- the Partition Plan as a reference for the “Jewish State” without committing to the maps of this resolution. Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, the US is insisting on the idea of “the Jewish nation state”.

There is a dispute regarding the need to set a binding calendar for the end of negotiations, the end of the occupation, and the manifestation of the two-state solution. Washington does not want to commit to deadlines while the European – the French in particular – position is still unclear in this regard.

We still do not know if these capitals will uphold and adhere to these standards until the end or if they will cave in under the pressure of Israel and the exploitation of pro-Israel groups in their countries. However, we are certain that no one will provide a guarantee to make sure that if the “new resolution” is passed, it will face a different fate from the dozens of other international resolutions that came before it. Therefore, we would not be surprised if this new attempt to revive the peace process and save the two-state solution option ends up “luring” the Palestinians into making new concessions with regards to the “Jewishness” of the state in exchange for a state and a shared capital only on paper.

Translated from Addustour newspaper, 22 April 2015.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.