Yossi Beilin outlines a Gaza/Palestine peace plan on BitterLemons.org, which you might wish to look at. The following is the latest, dated August 1, of a series of letters addressed by the Meretz-Yahad party chair to friends of Meretz around the world:
…. The eruption of two nearly-simultaneous crises-one in Gaza, the other in the north, has been a painful reminder that stability and calm can only be temporary in the absence of agreements, and that agreements are as necessary with Lebanon and Syria as they are with the Palestinians. Since, moreover, on both its northern and southern fronts, Israel has opted for unilateral withdrawals, the two crises thus touch upon a sensitive nerve in the Israeli political psyche-namely, the sense shared by many Israelis that we can achieve security single-handedly and in defiance of an agreement with our neighbors.
This is not to say that Israel was wrong, or had no just basis, to retaliate. The attacks against Israeli troops on June 25 (on the Gaza-Israel border) and on July 12 (on the Lebanese-Israeli border) were an aggressive act of unjustified provocation, and Israel had every right to retaliate. That said, I have to add that I am highly uncomfortable with the acts of retaliation that Israel chose to undertake. My discomfort has to do with my sense that Israel’s military actions are unlikely to achieve Israel’s stated objectives-in Gaza, the release of the abducted solider and the cessation of Qassam rocket fire on Israeli towns; in Lebanon, the release of the abducted soldiers and a military and (no less important) political crush of Hizbollah, if not its outright destruction.
In other words, justification does not amount to wisdom, and is certainly not a sufficient criterion for responsible policy. Israel had very right to retaliate, but that does not automatically mean that it should necessarily have opted to retaliate, or that the way it opted to retaliate was the only way to do so. Alas, several weeks into the fighting, the sense of achievement is limited, and the costs that civilians on all sides have paid are overwhelming.
What is needed right now, and urgently, is a cease-fire. The parameters for a sustainable cease-fire, on both fronts, are already more or less known. In Gaza, such a cease-fire would mean the release of the abducted soldier and the cessation of rocket fire on Israel, the cessation of Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip (including targeted killing), the release of the Hamas legislators and ministers recently arrested by Israel as well as of a certain number of Palestinian prisoners. As for Lebanon, the U.S. Secretary of State began to outline a feasible plan, whose basic features would include the cessation of all hostilities, the release of the abducted Israeli soldiers, the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon and along the border with Israel, and the removal of Hizbollah militants north, if not their disarmament or integration into the Lebanese Army.
This is perhaps not the time and place to outline what Israel should have done differently. The fighting continues, and as a member of the Israeli parliament and leader of the only leftist Zionist party outside the government, I must reiterate that I share Israel’s goals, even if I am skeptical about it has chosen to achieve them. To the Israeli government’s goals, however, I would also like to add my own: a comprehensive political agreement with the Palestinians, and comprehensive political agreements with both Syria and Lebanon. Until we achieve these, our accomplishments will be limited in scope and temporary in nature.
One final note: in the kind of globalized world we live in, the effects of these recent crises, especially the one in Lebanon, are felt by people far away from Israel. For that reason, I feel that we in Israel cannot turn a blind eye to the risks that our actions carry for Jewish communities worldwide. The tragic incident in Seattle a few days ago sent shivers to all those who remember (and who can forget?) the bombing of the AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building in Buenos Aires in July 1994. Such attacks are a powerful reminder of the shared fate of Jewish people everywhere, and the awesome responsibility that political leaders carry in dealing even with seemingly local conflicts.
Yours as always, Yossi Beilin