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Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli Peace Plans

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See also - IN A  NUTSHELL: Israeli Palestinian Conflict 

Historical Background

Numerous final status and peace plans have been advanced to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are all based on variants of a few ideas that have a venerable history. On the face of it, the plans must address the following issues:

Sovereignty - Each people wants the right to self determination, but some plans deny self determination to one people or the other.

Borders - If there are two states, the land must be apportioned between them and some people will probably need to move. Palestinians demand that all Israeli settlers would leave any separate Palestinian state.

Immigration - Israel has a law of return that allows Jews from all over the world to immigrate to Israel and be granted citizenship automatically. Israel actively seeks Jewish immigration. Palestinian refugees who fled Israeli in 1948 and 1967 want the right to return to their homes in Israel (Right of Return), and Palestinians historically have tried to limit Jewish immigration to Israel and abolish the Law of Return. Many Palestinian refugee families have kept keys to their homes in what is now Israel, even though the homes themselves no longer exist. Return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, including all those who claim the status of Palestinian refugees, would establish an Arab majority in Israel and would therefore mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

Resources - If the states are divided, scarce common resources must be apportioned between them.


Why Israeli Palestinian Peace Plans failed

No plan has those far succeeded in ending the Arab-Israeli or Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.  There are two intractable difficulties in the way of any such plans for Israel. If these difficulties can ever be overcome, then almost any reasonable allocation of resources and people could be made to work. But the it is likely that the real problems have never been addressed by any plan. The real problems produce excuses and alibis as to why the sides cannot make peace, and the plans to date have all addressed only those excuses. The first problem is in the hearts of men. It is the tragic conviction of too many people on both sides that all of the land belongs only to them and to no-one else, and that the continued presence of the other side on the land is illegitimate and a historic injustice. The second problem is that outside forces, especially in the Arab and Muslim world, have taken care to stir up and maintain this conviction and to arm those who will fight for it. As long as terrorist groups and the regimes that encourage them exist, they will try to sabotage any hope of peace, regardless of the terms. No plan can succeed until these problems are solved. Therefore, it may be moot to discuss, for example, whether a plan like the Geneva Accord would be better or worse than the Ayalon Nusseibeh agreement or a different agreement, in the hypothetical case that either one could really be implemented.


There are several levels of "requirements" of parties to a conflict that might be conditions for resolution of that conflict. Basic requirements are those that are needed for human survival and well being: land, water, security, access to the sea if possible, a place to call your own. National requirements are those that are needed in order to to survive and prosper as a nation among nation states: Freedom to pursue legitimate national goals, self determination and cultural development are among them. Restitutional requirements may be legitimate as well, even if they are not needed for survival: a wronged country may want land returned, or payment for wars started by the other side or other reparations. However, some other "requirements" are often confrontational issues, that have been developed as issues in order to perpetuate a conflict. For example, certain theological disputes were used to prevent the healing of the schism between the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholic churches, though the substantive conflict was not really about the "filioque" in the creed (the assertion that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as the Father) or the use of unleavened bread in the mass.


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict includes several such confrontational issues, that were never perceived as issues by either side until they were deliberately inflated and brought to national significance. There is no way way to resolve those issues by logical formulae, because the purpose of the issue is to prevent resolution of the conflict. Essentially, the real content of each such issue is "we will make peace only when the other side admits surrender" and the issues are advanced because it is believed that the other side will never accept it and can never accept it. Therefore, the issue can be used to show that the other side does not want peace.

Historic Middle East and Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plans

One Jewish State - The early Zionists envisioned a single Jewish state that would encompass all of the land from beyond the Jordan river to the sea, as well as Gaza and parts of what is now Lebanon. The single Jewish state plan was abandoned by most Zionists when it became apparent that the Jews could not be a decisive majority in all of Palestine. Today, settlers and right wing Zionists propose various single state solutions that all seek to maintain a Jewish majority in the land, either by expelling Palestinians or by denying or abridging their political rights.

One Arab State - Arab states and Palestinian leaders called for a single Palestinian Arab state in Palestine. This "plan" has been put forward from time to time with different variants. All of them would put an end to Zionism and would not allow free Jewish immigration to Israel. After WW II The Palestinian leader Haj Amin el Husseini, told the British that the Jewish problem in Palestine should be solved in the same was as it had been "solved" by Hitler in Europe (by murdering the Jews). In 1967, on the eve of the 6-day war, Ahmed Shokhairy, then head of the PLO, spoke at UN, giving the Palestinian one-state solution. He explained that "if it will be our privilege to strike the first blow," the PLO would exile from Israel all Zionists who arrived after 1917 and create a "secular democratic state. This secular democratic state became the program of the Palestine Liberation Organization and of the Fateh which sought to "liberate" Palestine from the Zionists by armed struggle. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad prefer an Islamic state, in which Jews and other religious minorities can remain as dhimmis (second class citizens).

Binational State - This idea was advanced by Dr. Yehuda Magnes, President of the Hebrew University and the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber. This state would have Jewish and Arab cantons, similar to the Swiss German and French Cantons. The idea was presented to the Anglo-American commission in 1946, was favored by the Mapam party and by the USSR. However, the idea lost support after the Arab states and Palestinian leadership totally rejected it. The binational state has a few modern proponents, including Meron Benvenisti, Noam Chomsky and Edward Said.

Two State Partition Solution - The British first partitioned  Palestine in 1922, cutting off Transjordan from the Palestine mandate of the League of nations, along with the announcement by Winston Churchill that the Mandate called for a Jewish home in Palestine, but not necessarily in all of Palestine. The Peel and Woodhead commissions of 1937 and 1938 recommended a further partition, into a tiny Jewish state and much larger Arab state.  The Arabs rejected this solution and the British abandoned it. The UN called for the establishment of two states in UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which became the basis for the establishment of Israel. The Arab countries opposed Resolution 181, and were also not enthusiastic about creating a Palestinian state, preferring to divide the territory of Palestine between them.

Alon Plan - Israeli general and political leader Yigal Alon formulated this plan for partition of the West Bank with part of the land to be returned to Jordan as a solution for the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Autonomy - Israel PM Menachem Begin proposed that Israel would give autonomy to Palestinians, in the framework of the Israeli - Egyptian peace treaty. The "autonomy" would allow Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to run their internal affairs, but would give them no rights at all over the land, and no representation as a sovereign state. They could have Jordanian or Egyptian citizenship.  A plan consistent with autonomy was submitted by the Israeli government in 1989.

Harold H. Saunders offered a peace plan in outline in 1975 that eventually became the basis for US thinking about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Barak Offer, Taba talks and Clinton Compromise - During 2000 and early 2001, Israelis and Palestinians negotiated unsuccessfully regarding a final status solution. Though the overall result was a failure, there were many points of agreement. The nature of the settlement and the proposed maps are detailed here  and here.

Recent Peace Plans, Final Status Plans and Peace Initiatives

Introduction - Not every plan for a settlement is a peace plan. Some of the recent proposals are expressly designed to subjugate one side or the other and cannot be considered "peace plans." Some of the initiatives are intended to be the basis for a peace plan or a method of arriving at a peace plan, but aren't complete solutions and don't pretend to be. See How many states? and The Emperor's New Peace Plan and "The Two State Solution" for some background.  An explanation of most of the different proposals follows.

The Quartet Road map - The Road Map ,  now endorsed by the UN, is not a final status plan, but a series of steps designed to calm the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, create a provisional Palestinian state and allow for negotiations of a final status agreement.  The "road map" calls for a three-phased implementation of U.S. President George W. Bush's June 24, 2002 speech :  that would make possible Israel and Palestinians "living side by side in peace and security." However, the roadmap does not specify the final borders of Palestine and Israel or any other other details of the solution.

Arab Peace Initiative   The Saudi-initiated plan for a comprehensive peace calls for settlement of the Palestine-Israel conflict and other outstanding disputes, followed by termination of the state of war that has existed between Israel and all Arab countries and recognition of Israel. As part of the Palestinian settlement, the plan calls more or less explicitly for return of the Palestinian refugees to Israel. This plan has been revived by the Arab League summit of 2007.

Third Party Peace Initiatives:

Geneva Accord - The "Geneva Accord" is a a proposed final status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians s initiated by former justice minister Yossi Beilin and former Palestinian minister of information Yasser Abed Rabbo. Talks on the agreement took place over the past year and were funded, in part, by the Swiss government. Israelis who signed the agreement included Labor MKs Amram Mitzna, Avraham Burg, Yuli Tamir and MK Haim Oron (Meretz), former MK Nehama Ronen;  General Giora Inbar, Former Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and authors Amos Oz and David Grossman.

The agreement provides in great detail for an independent and demilitarized Palestine living alongside Israel. Borders between the states would be based on the 1967 lines with slight modifications, giving Israel the Gush Etzion settlements, Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the Jewish quarter of the Old City and the settlement of Ma'aleh Edumim. An international religious authority would control central holy sites, with the Temple Mount officially under Palestinian sovereignty and the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter of the Old City under Israeli sovereignty.  Israel would decide how many Palestinian refugees would be admitted to Israel. Other refugees would get compensation from international funds and would be accepted either into Palestine the countries in which they are currently residing or other countries.

According to a public opinion poll jointly sponsored by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston and the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC , 53.3 percent of Israelis polled said they would support such a proposal while 43.9 percent said they would oppose it. On the Palestinian side, 55.6 percent expressed support. Other polls gave the proposals about 30 percent support in Israel, but it is not clear that respondents understood the plan.

The complete text of
the accord is here.  Unofficial maps of the accord are here.  The Geneva accord is similar to earlier plans put forward by Gush Shalom and Peace Now.

Ayalon-Nusseibeh Plan (Peoples' Voice)  - The Peoples' Voice initiative was launched in June by former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh, the former PLO representative in Jerusalem. The initiative is based on a six-point Statement of Principles, calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state; an open Jerusalem; compensation for Palestinian refugees and explicitly relinquishing the Palestinian claim for the right of Palestinian Refugees to return to Israel ("Right of Return"). . More information is at the
Peoples' Voice website.

One Voice  - One Voice is a grassroots peace initiative that seeks to find common ground between the "silent majority" of Israelis and Palestinians. One Voice has about 100,000 signatures on a petition empowering a panel of experts to propose a solution, and will soon present a detailed set of principles, or "pillars"  on which people will be able to vote through the Web using facilities to be donated, as well as through other means.  statement of principles, and is working on a says it has managed to "achieve consensus on 20 Pillars that may form the basis for Palestinian-Israeli conflict resolution." The "pillars," which are still confidential, "are the beginning of a process to achieve historic grassroots consensus for conflict resolution," according to the One Voice website. More information can be found on the One Voice Israeli-Palestinian Peace website

Plans of Israeli Political Factions

Meretz Plan - Meretz supports the Geneva Accord as its plan for a solution of the conflict.

Israel Communist Party - Calls for evacuation of the Occupied territories to the June 4, 1967 lines, and right of return for Palestinian refugees. 

Labor Party peace platform - The opposition Labor Party's  plan is based on a return to the June 4, 1967 borders "with slight revisions due to security reasons and around blocs of Jewish settlements." Similar to the Geneva Accord, condemned by Labor politicians, Jerusalem would be divided into Israeli and Palestinian capitals, and partitioned according into Jewish and Arab parts based on current population. Palestinians would give up right of return. All "illegal" outposts are to be dismantled immediately according to the Labor plan.

The Sharon and Olmert disengagement Plans  m  - Israeli PM Ariel Sharon and PM Ehud Olmert,  originally made broad hints about a plan or plans for unilateral steps that would be taken soon if no agreement with Palestinians is possible and there was no progress in implementing the road map. These plans would almost certainly include evacuation of the small Israeli settlements in Gaza including Netzarim and scattered settlements in the West Bank. These plans became the disengagement plan that was implemented by Ariel Sharon, and included complete evacuation of Gaza plus four settlements in the West Bank. This plan is blamed in part for election of the Hamas to lead the Palestinian Authority, for an endless barrage of Qassam rockets on the Western Negev, and the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. For these reasons, and because of continuous and uncontrolled smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip as well as societal chaos, the disengagement plan was considered a failure.   Ehud Olmert planned a partial disengagement plan for the  West Bank that was never implemented, because of the failure of the Gaza plan. The plan area that would be defended by Israel would probably correspond with the current fence. More about the Sharon Plan.   More about the Olmert Plan. Disengagement

Zionist Extremist Plans

Yesha Council plan  - The Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip and Likud Party extremists are preparing an alternative to Sharon's unilateral plan. The Yesha  plan would  extend Israeli sovereignty to all of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. No independent Palestinian state would be created west of the Jordan River. Instead, Israel and the territories would be partitioned into cantons, with two cantons created for the Palestinians - one in the Gaza Strip and one in Judea and Samaria.  Some settlers consider that this plan is a betrayal of their cause as well.

The Elon Plan - Tourism Minister Benny Elon (National Union) is a follower of the late Rehavam Ze'evi.. He believes in transferring Palestinians out of Israel and declaring Israeli sovereignty over the entire West Bank. Jordan would be recognized as the Palestinian state. Elon doesn't explain how countries would be induced to recognize Jordan as the Palestinian state. More details can be found on the
Elon Peace Plan website.

Moshe Feiglin's Plan -  Feiglin is a far-right Likud Activist. His 'plan'  calls for full Israeli sovereignty over the whole of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the expulsion of Arabs who object. Other Arabs will be encouraged to immigrate, but those who "demonstrate their loyalty to the Jewish State's hospitality and accept the Jewish People's sovereignty over the Jewish People's land will be granted legal residency and issued a legal resident's identification card... [T]hey will have no political right to vote for the Knesset, or any national rights.

Palestinian Extremists

Hamas - The Hamas continues to call for an Islamic Republic in all of Palestine. Jews would be able to live in that republic as second class "dhimmi" citizens. Sheikh Yassin said recently that Jews could have their own state in Europe.

Secular Democratic State - Left wing Palestinian extremist groups still favor the Secular democratic or secular Marxist state of the PLO. Jews would be allowed to live in Palestine following return of the Palestinian refugees, but no further Zionist immigration would be allowed. Jews would have equal rights as citizens, but would constitute a minority in a majority Palestinian State.

Al Awda - The Al-Awda group was founded expressly to block a final settlement that does not allow return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. Their plan insists that refugees will return to Israel, though not necessarily to the homes they abandoned in 1948, as these do not exist for the most part.

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