The following is from Hillel Schenker, our chaver and fellow blogger who is currently co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal. He writes thoughtfully in The Times of Israel (“Time for a new American peace initiative in the Middle East”) on the recent speech by Dennis Ross at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, mostly with praise, but also suggesting that the situation is too urgent for “confidence building measures” (“CBMs”) alone:
…. Ross’ 16 Point Plan contains six recommendations for Israeli CBMs, six for the Palestinians, and four joint recommendations.
For the Israelis, he recommends:
1) Declare that you are ready to provide compensation for settlers to return to Israel proper;
2) Start building housing in Israel for settlers who will leave the West Bank;
3) Building only in the settlement blocks which it is assumed will be part of a future land swap – nothing west of the separation barrier, i.e. nothing within the 92% of the area which will definitely be a part of the future Palestinian state;
4) Since 6l% of the West Bank is Area C under Israeli control, open area C up for Palestinian economic activity;
5) 21% of the West Bank is Area B, and the level of Palestinian police responsibility for security in that area should be increased;
6) 18.2% of the West Bank is Area A, under almost full Palestinian control. Israel should designate guidelines for security considerations in Area A, and only if those guidelines are broken will Israeli security forces enter the area.
1) Put Israel on the map, literally, on the Palestinian websites, textbooks, etc. The claim that no one knows Israel’s borders, and if we do it Israel will do the same, does not hold water;
2) Start talking about two states for two peoples, two national movements, two identities, and acknowledge the Jewish connection to the land and Jerusalem;
3) Stop incitement, don’t name squares and institutions after people who killed Israelis in suicide attacks;
4) Prepare public opinion for peace. Remember that Arafat spoke about “the peace of the brave.” He meant that both sides will have hard decisions to make.
5) Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), where does it say that refugees have to live in squalid conditions until a permanent solution is found for their situation? Start to rebuild the refugee camps now;
6) Focus on the rule of law in the Palestinian Authority. Good governance sends a positive message.
For both Israelis and Palestinians he recommends:
1) Israelis and Palestinian young people do not meet and see each other. This leads to the Palestinian stereotype that all Israelis are soldiers, and it leads to Israeli lynching of Palestinian youth in Jerusalem. A way must be found to change the socialization process – exchange of classrooms. When there is no contact it is easy to dehumanize the other;
2) When each side does something positive, the other side should acknowledge it. When Palestinian security forces prevent terrorism, when Hadassah Hospital treats Palestinians, it should be acknowledged.
To conclude, he said that these 16 points are not meant to replace a renewal of political discussions, which are the eventual goal.
Confidence building measures are not enough
While all of Ross’ ideas are good ones, they are not enough, and some of them are not practical, which would derail the confidence building process from the start. For example, there is no chance that a possible Netanyahu-led government after the January 22nd elections would consider the first two recommendations – to offer compensation to settlers and to begin building homes for them in Israel proper.
And we do not have time to rely on confidence building measures alone. …
[Click here for entire article.]