West Asia Peace Plan
The US administration had presented a peace plan for the settlement between Israel and Palestine Conflict. The plan was the result of three-year negotiations. It seeks to give the Israelis an expansive state with Jerusalem as its “undivided capital” and tight security control over a future Palestinian state.
• In 1993, Israel and the Palestinians agreed for the status of settlements to be decided by negotiations, known as Oslo Accords
• Under Oslo Accords, a timetable for the Middle East peace process was established. It also planned for an interim Palestinian government in Gaza and Jericho in the West Bank.
• In 1995, Oslo II Accords was signed. It included provisions for the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from six West Bank cities and about 450 towns. Additionally, the pact set a timetable for elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council.
• The accords left the question of Jerusalem undecided.
(For More on Israel and Palestine read Current Connect- November 2019-Page number- 65)
What is New Plan?
It provides for an independent Palestinian state
It recognizes the Israeli sovereignty over West Bank Settlements.
It allows Israel to annex the Jewish settlements on the West Bank as well as in the Jordan valley
It allows for the return of Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. They can also move to the newly created Palestine.
It proposes land swap for the Israeli annexation of the West Bank Jewish settlements.
It will connect the Gaza Strip with the West Bank through a tunnel.
The US will invest $50 billion in investment over a period of 10 years in case Palestine accept the proposal.
On the issue of Jerusalem, the plan proposes to make Jerusalem an undivided capital of Israel while the Palestinians to get its capital (Abu Dis) in the east of the city — beyond the security borders Israel has already built. The US will also open its embassy in the region to cement it as Palestinians capital.
It calls on Israel to freeze further settlement activities on the West Bank for four years which is the time provided for negotiations.
While the Palestinian Authority should dismiss its current complaints at the International Criminal Court against Israel and should also crackdown on “terrorist” groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
The plan provides Palestine with more territory than what it held under Oslo Accords (According to the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into three areas and only one of them is under the direct control of the Palestinian Authority).
The Arab towns in the southeast of Israel, which are close to Gaza, could become part of a future Palestinian state.
Will this plan work?
There are various lacunas in the plan such as:
Larger deviation: Majority of the world powers back the idea of the formation of a sovereign Palestinian state based on the 1967 border this would mean:
o It would include the whole of West Bank and the Gaza Strip
o East Jerusalem would be its capital including Haram-esh-Sharif, also known as Temple Mount, a holy site for both Muslims and Jews.
o Issues like the right of return of the Palestinian refugees are to be settled in final negotiations.
o However, it seeks to give Jerusalem and about 30% of the West Bank to the Israelis and has denied the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. Further, it provided the state that would be practically surrounded by Israel. It refrains Palestine from questioning the occupation in international fora.
Balfour Resemblances: The plan was termed by many countries as a repetition of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which supported the development of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. This creates a serious doubt in the minds of people about the utility of the plan. It is also expected to quell the Palestinian cause, and the extremist and terror groups will ride on the coattails of the same.
OIC and Arab League Backlash: OIC and Arab League have rejected the so-called plan as it does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people. Further, it called upon on all member states not to engage with this plan or to cooperate with the US administration in implementing it in any form.
India has historically followed a balancing line in the Middle East’s Quagmires and therefore it urged both sides to engage with each other, including on the recent proposals put forward by the US, and find an acceptable two-state solution for peaceful coexistence.
India has since long been maintaining that Israel-Palestine conflict should be resolved through negotiation “resulting in sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Quartet Roadmap and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The plan would rarely find support from Palestinian leadership whose people are living under occupation for decades. Therefore, they rejected the proposal plan even before its announcement. They also don’t consider the present US administration as an impartial mediator of peace because of their recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. However, it must be ruled out that the Palestinians are running out of time in the ever-evolving world for which their issue is a seven-decade-old problem with many contemporary challenges
Changing Israel-Arab Relations
Most of the Arab countries doesn’t recognize the Israel as a legitimate state but things are broadly changing which is evident from various fact such as:
o UAE will have its first synagogue in 2022
o Israel-Oman relations have strengthened, Oman is walking on the neutral line in regional conflicts.
Arab states themselves have supported the Palestinian cause as per the convenience of their own domestic and/or foreign policy narratives and played the policy of “tiki taka”
In recent times, Iran has emerged as a common threat for both Israel and many Arab states. Its militia Hezbollah and Hamas had created troubles for many in regions.
The cracks in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) between UAE, Saudi and Qatar is another dimension. Qatar increased its outreach to Palestine in order to foster goof relations with Iran and Turkey.