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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

In one highly-packed week from January 12-19, a Brit Tzedek/Meretz-USA delegation will meet with members of Knesset, top Palestinian leaders, and a variety of peace activists among other activities. Steve Masters, president of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and staffer Anna Freedman will write regular journal entries. We will also provide links to the trip blog of Rabbi Brant Rosen, a member of Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Cabinet from Evanston, IL.


Achieving a two-state resolution
By Anna Freeman
January 15, 2008

It was really a thrill to have lunch with Akiva Eldar today. Much like Gadi Baltiansky, general director of Education for Peace, Ltd., who we heard speak this morning, he projected a rather unvarnished, realist view of the next three years as they pertain to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The overarching themes reflected in both speakers’ presentations were that 1) the idea of a Jewish state is finished if we don’t reach a two-state solution within the next 36 months, and 2) the likelihood of reaching a final status peace agreement in 2008, 2009, or even 2010 is relatively low.  One reason Eldar gave for this bleak view of the future of final status peace negotiations was his perception of the “tiny little peace camp” in Israel - while most Israelis and Palestinians support a comprehensive two-state resolution to the conflict, they remain a silent majority in the matter.

Part of the impetus behind Eldar’s visit with us was to have an opportunity to discuss his newest book, which he co-wrote with Idith Zertal, called Lords of the Land. This revolutionary exploration of the role played by the Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories presents a whole new understanding of the term Zionist. Eldar and Zertal suggest that the settlements run contrary to the true doctrine of Zionism; that two-state solution is now the new Zionist ideal, the evidence for which can be found in the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

According to Eldar, the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be treated in such a way that a clean divorce can be made between the two political entities. Israel must understand that in order to strike a peaceful agreement between itself and its Palestinian partners, the 1967 border is the place from which to start a one-to-one land swap. Palestine must be granted sovereignty over certain roads and air space, while Israel must be allowed to freely travel through that air space in order to support its travel and tourism industry, without having to obtain special permission to do so.

Another crucial key to a successful peace negotiation process is the reconfiguration and removal of some checkpoints throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to Eldar, a viable Palestinian state cannot exist at the same time that checkpoints exist. Today, the situation at checkpoints is worse that it was 7 years ago, with more human rights violations due to the privatization of their staffing and management. In places where checkpoints have already been removed in Gaza, however, Hamas takes credit, saying that they’ve accomplished more in 5 years of armed resistance than in 10 years of diplomacy.

As we can see, three main tasks which Eldar considers necessary to achieving a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are 1) reducing the impact and presence of settlements on Palestinian land 2) an equality-based land swap based on 1967 borders, and 3) a gradual reduction of checkpoints within Israel and the Palestinian territories. Surprisingly, President Bush promoted a similar solution in his recent visit to Israel; however, it is important that Bush enact policy that would generate such agreements, including giving a concrete deadline for beginning negotiations, providing for the permanent or semi-permanent establishment of a third-party facilitator from the U.S. government to keep negotiations moving forward, and finally to inject a new, creative approach to the process to ensure its continuing success.

The road to establishing a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians will be a long, complicated one. Nevertheless, there is hope for resolution as long as both parties involved agree to certain concessions and outside involvement.

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