rn: seeking a solution for Isreal/Palestine


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

I have not paid much attention to the violence in Palestine/Israel because I
just don't know much about the issue and feel too distanced to be of much
help in bringing peace.

But I am sure this kind of attitude is what prevents many decent people from
caring about peace issues, and so we have rampant arms sales, "Western"
government support for human rights violations, etc.

I am very grateful to Hans Sinn for sending me the two items I am sending to
you today. Hans has long looked for ways to do something concrete to promote
peace on earth and I trust that his opinions are based on that deep
commitment and also on in-depth investigation of the issues and history of
the conflict situation.

all the best, Jan
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 14:29:12 -0400
From: Hans Sinn <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Israel/Palestine "solution"

Hi Jan,

When you read this you will be back from your trip, trying to catch up with
the accumulated email. Here is some more. At the risk of overloading you, I
am sending you the "solution" to the Israel/Palestinian conflict as
proposed by Gershon Baskin of the Palestinian Israeli Research Center in
Jerusalem. Of all I have read so far I like Gershon's proposal best,
because he accepts as basic to the conflict its added religious dimension.
The conflict is, after all, taking place in The Holy Land for Moslems, Jews
and Christians, a fact which our post Enlightenment society is apt to

In the meantime, the Nonviolent Peace Force proposal is making progress.
Last Saturday, October 21.2000, the GNVPF proposal was endorsed by the
delegates of the Canadian Peace Alliance in St. Catherines (hosted Local
166 of the Canadian Auto Workers). In my wildest dreams, I see the Canadian
government's endorsement of a Global Nonviolent Peace Force become a
Federal Election issue.  

Kind regards,

           The Agreement on Jerusalem and Its Price

                             Gershon Baskin, Ph.D.*
It should now be quite clear to everyone that the all of the creative
proposals presented so far on the future of Jerusalem will not bring the
hoped for breakthrough towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty. The
suggestion of “Divine Sovereignty” has been rejected by Arafat following
the warm embrace of the State Department’s Peace Team (Albright’s Jews – in
the words of the Palestinians) and following support for this idea by
senior Israeli officials.  Apparently Arafat has understood that with the
support of Dennis Ross and Barak, that it must be an Israeli trick that is
meant to leave real control over the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem in
Israeli hands. Arafat will never accept a solution for sovereignty in
Jerusalem that is not absolutly clear to Israel, to the world, and
especially the Arab world, that he is the sole ruler of Sacred Jerusalem –
Al Quds al Sharif. This does not mean that Arafat will not compromise in
the end, however; that compromise will not be one which
will enable any Israeli control whatsoever over and around the sacred
places of Islam and Christianity.
If this is the case, there are those who would say “Keeping the Temple
Mount is more important than having a peace treaty”. But for those who
understand that even now we do not have control of the Temple Mount and
that control of the Temple Mount is not essential because Jewish Law
prohibits us from rebuilding the Templ; then it would seem that a real
peace treaty is preferable than our current symbolic control of the Temple
Mount. It is therefore essential to properly examine the
most important elements of the Jerusalem issue and put the symbols on the
side thereby allowing us to concentrate on what are really the vital
elements of the issue - “non-negotiables” for us.
I would describe these essential “non-negotiables” as the following:
    1.Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (the
Kotel) and the entrance  to the Western Wall compound 
   2.Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish Quarter of the Old City 
    3.Israeli sovereignty over the Israeli neighborhoods of East Jerusalem
that were constructed after 1967 (such as Ramot, Ramat Eshkol, French Hill,
East Talpiot, Gilo, etc.) 
    4.Security arrangements and mechanism guaranteeing the security of
Israelis in all parts of the city 
    5.A guarantee that the City will remain open, in other words free
unrestricted movement for all in all parts of the city 
    6.Clear agreement upon limitations on Palestinian building and digging
on the Temple Mount 
These are the elements that are vital to Israeli interests, everything else
is much less significant. An agreement that would promise to Israel these
vital interests will be the best agreement attainable. Arafat is likely to
demand shrinking this list of Israeli demands, however, in my assessment,
through pressure and Israeli steadfastness, it is possible for Israel to
get an agreement with all of these
elements at its core.
What would such an agreement look like? First, Israel must agree to the
applicability in Jerusalem of UN Resolution 242.  Everything begins from
the 1967 borders. This is a principle that Arafat will not compromise on
even one millimeter because for Arafat the entire Oslo peace process is
predicated on this.  Any Palestinian compromise will come only after Israel
recognizes Palestinian sovereignty in all of the areas conquered by Israel
in 1967 and then the Palestinian compromise will be taken as decisions of a
sovereign State and not as has been throughout the Oslo process whereby the
strong side exerted its pressure upon the weaker. Arafat is not willing to
“play” the role that he has played until now because we are no longer
dealing with interim arrangements.  This is the “end game”; the
rules are different than those that have controlled Israeli-Palestinian
Authority relations since Oslo. 
Israel has made a huge perceptual error throughout the past years in
thinking that the Palestinians would make “painful” compromises in the
final status negotiations.  The many advisors and experts on Arab affairs
that have guided the past Israeli governments and Prime Ministers
apparently forgot to truly examine what the Palestinians really meant when
they talked about over and over again that
the June 4, 1967 borders would be the final status borders between Israel
and Palestine and that all of East Jerusalem would be the sovereign capital
of the Palestinian State. It seems that the wishful thinking of Israeli
leaders, politicians and security advisors has prevented them from being
able to understand that the Palestinians really meant what they have been
saying. The Palestinian position is
based on their belief that they already made their “painful” compromise in
Oslo when they gave up 78% of historic Palestine in their recognition of
the sovereignty of Israel over the 1948 boundaries and in recognition that
from that point on Palestine means the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians have been saying this for years, and Israel has refused to
hear it. By now we should have come to realize that they were saying what
they meant.
What could an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on Jerusalem look like? After
understanding that without Israeli recognition of 242 there will not be an
agreement, it is then possible to examine what Arafat would be willing to
do as the sovereign power over the territories, including East Jerusalem.
It is not possible, of course, to grant him sovereignty and then to wait
for him to make his compromises. This
has to be part and parcel of the negotiations. 
The first paragraph of the agreement on Jerusalem therefore must state that
the two sides recognize the applicability of UN Resolution 242 on East
Jerusalem. The boundaries of Palestinian East Jerusalem will be the
boundaries of June 4, 1967.  The second paragraph will say that there are
no physical boundaries in Jerusalem, East or West, and that there will be
freedom of movement for all throughout the entire city.  In this way
Jerusalem will remain open, united and undivided (it is so
difficult to give up our mantras – and here there is no need to). 
Next the two sides will agree that as the sovereign power in East
Jerusalem, the Palestinians agree to relinquish their sovereignty over the
Western Wall and the entrance to the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter of
the Old City and the Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.  The
agreement will state that the Temple Mount (the Haram al Sharif) will
continue to be under the control of the Muslim Waqf and that the Waqf
agrees not to build any buildings on the Mount or to engage in any digging
under the mount, unless mutually agreed to with Israel.  Furthermore, it is
possible to agree that the area directly above the Western Wall will be a
“no congregation” area in order to meet Israeli demands for security
against stoning the Western Wall compound. 
There will also be a paragraph, which says that a council of elected
representatives from all four quarters will manage the Old City and that
the Old City will be a tax-free zone.  Both sides will pass the legislation
of a “Basic Law” that promises freedom of access and movement to the Holy
Places and Sites, freedom of worship and the protection of Holy Places and
This kind of agreement could be called “Scattered Sovereignty”.  I do not
believe in joint sovereignty because sovereignty is linked to territory and
sovereignty, jurisdiction and the application of law must be clear and
easily understood in order for it to work.  Joint sovereignty is much too
vague, easily misunderstood and demands the kind of good-will and
cooperation that does not exist between
Israelis and Palestinians. Sovereignty must be “taken for granted”  - it
must be 100% clear where my sovereignty begins and ends and where the other
side’s sovereignty begins and ends. 
The criminal law of the State of Israel will be in force where Israel has
sovereignty and the criminal law of Palestinian will be in force where
Palestine has sovereignty. An Israeli criminal who commits a crime in Beit
Hanina (in Palestinian Jerusalem) for example, will be brought to trial in
a Palestinian court under Palestinian law and a Palestinian criminal who
commits a crime in Ramot (Israeli Jerusalem) for example, will be brought
to trial in Israel under Israeli law.  It is possible to agree that prison
sentences will be served in each side’s national prison – so that Israeli
criminals will be in Israeli prisons and vice versa, according to the terms
of the sentence of each court’s decision and rules. 
With regard to commercial law, all commerce and contracts will be
determined by the place of conducting the business, or according to the
terms of the contract.  It is possible to establish mechanisms for
alternatives dispute resolution in cross-border business disputes as part
of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement and not necessarily related only to
It is clearly understood that the need for real security cooperation
between the sides has to be clearly spelled out in the agreement and
translated into reality on the ground, but since this is not the main
subject of this article I won’t elaborate. There will be special security
needs in Jerusalem that will require special treatment and it is even
possible to imagine the creation of a special joint force of Israeli and
Palestinian police under a joint command that would function in and around
sensitive areas and certain border communities.
Municipal governments would be established and run as each side desires
within their own areas of sovereignty. The two municipalities will have to
create joint mechanisms for the coordination of infrastructure – roads,
electricity, telephone, sewages, waste removal and management, water,
environment protection, etc. These elements can be delineated in agreements
and afterwards guaranteed through legislation.
There is no assurance that the ideas presented here would be accepted by
Barak and Arafat. In my assessment, however, both sides could live with
this kind of agreement and that this kind of agreement would bring about
peace.  This is, in my opinion, the real price of peace – whether or not
the sides are willing to pay this price will have to be determined by Barak
and Arafat themselves.
       Dr. Gershon Baskin is the co-director of IPCRI, the Israel/Palestine
Center for Research and Information (•••@••.•••) 

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