Middle East Endgame II: How A Comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian Peace Settlement Would Look
This ICG report is one of three, published simultaneously, proposing to the parties and the wider international community a comprehensive plan to settle the Israeli-Arab conflict. In the first report, Getting to a Comprehensive Arab-Israeli Peace Settlement, we argue that approaches that rely on the gradual restoration of trust, the prior cessation of violence, fundamental Palestinian reform or various incremental political steps are all inadequate to alter the underlying dynamic that is fuelling the conflict. As much as we would wish otherwise, we fear that the appalling resort to terrorist violence against Israelis, and the large-scale Israeli attacks that are destroying all hope on the Palestinian side, will not be stopped by these means.
Instead, we recommend an approach that, while persisting in the effort to reach a cease-fire, improve the situation on the ground, reform Palestinian institutions and rebuild their shattered economy, seeks to deal with the ultimate political issues up front. Our conclusion is that the international community, led by the United States, should now initiate a comprehensive settlement strategy. This should involve not only the Israeli-Palestinian track, although this is obviously at the time of publication the most immediate and serious problem requiring major attention, but the Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon tracks as well, which if left unresolved will inhibit the necessary comprehensive reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world. What in ICG’s judgment is needed to settle these latter problems is the subject of the third companion report, Israel, Syria and Lebanon – How Comprehensive Peace Settlements Would Look.
In the present report, the second of the three, How a Comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian Settlement Would Look, we spell out in detail our proposals for the content of both a bilateral agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, and an associated multilateral agreement whose signatories, in addition to the parties, would be the core international players – the U.S., EU, Russia and UN “Quartet,” and the key regional supporters of the bilateral agreement, the Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan “Trio” – with others as appropriate.
As to the elements of the bilateral settlement, ICG has been engaged in intensive discussions with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the international community for a number of months. The terms of the settlement outlined here reflect our best assessment of what both sides can accept as fair, comprehensive and lasting and what, ultimately, their agreement more or less will have to look like. We propose that a U.S.-led international Contact Group, whose core members would be the signatories mentioned above, present these bilateral settlement terms to the parties. There would be no question of them being imposed on Israel and the Palestinians, but they would be publicly and forcefully advocated to both their leaders and their publics.
ICG’s proposals are far-reaching, and may prove in the short term to be more than the present international policy market can bear. But the unhappy truth is that no lesser alternatives seem remotely likely to bring to an end the death, injury, destruction and misery that have been associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for far too many years already.
Amman/Washington/Brussels, 16 July 2002