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Following the Elections, Mideast Peace Negotiations Should Resume

November 2, 2012 3:56 pm 10 comments

From left to right: Israeli PM Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: wiki commons.

I was invited to meet with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority just before he spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations.  I came to the meeting with an agenda:  to persuade him to sit down with the Israelis and resume negotiations without first requiring the Israelis to accept a total settlement freeze.  I knew the Israelis would not—indeed could not—agree to a settlement freeze as a prior condition to beginning negotiations, since they had previously agreed to a nine month freeze and the Palestinians refused to come to the bargaining table until just before the freeze expired, and then demanded that the freeze be extended.  Prime Minister Netanyahu had invited the Palestinians to begin negotiations with no prior conditions—an invitation that the Palestinians had rejected because the Israelis refused first to impose a freeze.

My proposal to President Abbas was to have the Palestinian Authority agree to sit down and begin negotiations before any freeze began, if the Israelis would agree to begin a freeze only after the negotiations commenced in good faith.  In that way, the Israelis would get what they wanted:  negotiations beginning with no prior actions on their part.  And the Palestinians would get what they wanted:  a settlement freeze while the negotiations continued in good faith.

My plan further required the parties to immediately agree to divide the disputed territories into three areas (that were roughly equivalent to areas already agreed to in other contexts).  The first would be those parts of the West Bank that will never become part of Israel, such as Ramallah, Jericho, Jenin and other heavily populated Palestinian places.  Israel would agree to freeze all building in that area.  The second would be those parts of the West Bank that will definitely remain part of Israel after any peace agreement, such as Ma’Ale Adumim, Giloh and other areas contiguous to greater Jerusalem.  The Palestinians would agree not to oppose building within that area.  The third would be those parts of the West Bank that are subject to reasonable disagreement as to whether they will become part of a Palestinian state or remain part of Israel subject to land swaps.  These include Ariel, the Etzion Bloc and other settlements fairly close to the Green Line.  The Israelis would agree to a temporary settlement freeze in that area so long as negotiations continued in good faith.  If the negotiations allocated some of that land to Israel, building could continue on that land.

I had written an op ed laying out my plan, and I brought a copy of it to my meeting with President Abbas.  When I showed it to him, he said, “This looks good,” and he passed it on to Saeb Erekat, his close advisor.  Erekat read it closely and gave it back to President Abbas, who circled the operative paragraph and signed it, “Abu Mazzen.”  He asked me to show it to Prime Minister Netanyahu with whom I would be meeting several days later.

Between the time I met with President Abbas and the time I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, both delivered their speeches to the General Assembly.  Netanyahu reiterated his invitation to sit down and negotiate a peaceful resolution, while Abbas made a belligerent speech accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and other crimes.  He expressed no real interest in negotiating peace.  So when I told Prime Minister Netanyahu about President Abbas’ apparent acceptance of my proposal, he was understandably skeptical.  But he took a copy of the signed article and put it in his pocket, saying he would certainly give it careful consideration.

Since that time, Abbas has indicated that he might be willing to sit down and negotiate without a settlement freeze, but only after the United Nations votes on upgrading the status of Palestine.  Netanyahu, during his recent visit to France, reiterated a desire to sit down and negotiate with no preconditions.

It seems clear that nothing will happen until after both the American presidential election and the Israeli parliamentary elections early next year.  When those elections are over, I intend to press both sides to consider my proposal.

There are no real downsides for either the Palestinians or the Israelis in resuming negotiations.  Everyone knows roughly what a negotiated peace would look like.  There would be some mutually agreed upon territorial changes to the 1967 borders, a demilitarized Palestinian state, some military presence along the Jordan River to assure Israel’s security, a realistic resolution of the Jerusalem issue and an abandonment of the so called Right of Return.  There would be no immediate resolution of the Gaza issue, so long as Hamas remained opposed to Israel’s right to exist.

Peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is long overdue.  The parties have come close on several occasions.  Following the two elections, the time will be right for moving in the direction of peace.  I hope my proposal will help to facilitate renewed negotiations.


  • Dr. S A Visotsky

    If that is the case,……. Israel “belonging to the Jews”. The internal problems of the Jews need to be sorted first, in order for us to progress, we need unity through clarity.

    Israel has undergone a metamorphosis. The majority of the Jews who migrated from Europe to other continents in the past two centuries are Ashkenazim, Eastern Ashkenazim in particular, many landing in Israel and foisting their myopic views upon the rest of the Soviet refugees who have settled. Somewhere along the line, the Jewish culture has absorbed these ethnic groups, and people get a false impression of the Jewish culture, which has nothing to do with the Soviet culture, which the Goym cannot differentiate. The standards for the law of return have been changed to suit whomever along the way as well. A Jew is born of a Jewish Mother, full stop. The Law of Return has laxed into…well…if a Grandparent was Jewish, then a spouse…or convert…yaddah yaddah. You cannot convert and become a Jew, you can ONLY convert to practice the faith of Judaism, but you will NEVER be “a Jew”. Can an African wake up tomorrow, and decide to become an Asian? No silly, of course not. What’s next for the Law of Return, if you once had a neighbor who was a Jew? Or, you once saw a Jew on television perhaps?

    Everyone complains about the Jews, but strangely everyone is trying to become one, nu? There’s one way, call your Mother and ask her.

  • The only thing the pretend palis need to negotiate about is where the pretend palis are going to live in the rest of the arab and muslim world after they admit that their pretend existence is other than a project to destroy Israel. The palestinian project is a ruse. A pretend people of a pretend country that never ever existed, whose liberation can only occur by getting rid of the real country that now resides in the area it pretends is palestine. Good try, Alan, but abbas and his fellow criminals and Jew haters aren’t on the same page.

  • Mr. Dershowitz makes reference to the 1967 “borders” but they are not borders. Borders are agreed upon lines of demarcation between countries which are then internationally recognized. The “Green Line”, which is identical to the 1949 armistice line is not a border; it’s merely an armistice line. Armistice lines do not carry the gravitas of borders therefore it is important to maintain their distinction. Borders need to be negotiated and agreed upon by the disputing countries. Borders are not determined by the spinmeisters and revisionists of history who feed at the trough of facts of their own making.


    Alan. You didn’t mention the Palestinian Authority agreement under the roadmap to cease incitement.

    What happens if (when) Abbas ceases to be the Palestinian Authority head. Who will enforce the Palestinian agreed-upon responsibilities on a Palestinian Authority which has many elements that still regard all of Israel as unredeemed Islamic land?

    Numerous Arabs have stated that no one, actually no one has the right to bargain away the right of return.

  • Mark Greenberg

    Nice try, Mr. Dershowitz. The PA will never accept no right of return,any Israeli presence beyond the 1967 lines ….in fact Abbas has made it clear that any Palestinian land will be Judenrein! And a demilitarized Palestinian state? Not gonna happen.

  • Why should peace negotiations start again, is islam finished–gone? That is the only way there will ever be peace in the Middle East.

  • Aurora Aronsson

    Negotiations WITH WHOM? With those (PLO) who organised and financed the 1972 Munich massacre, the 1985 Achille Lauro, etc.; or with those (Hamas) who prefer to blow-up buses, coffee bars, pizza shops and restaurants, or send rockets, mortars and missiles on school children?
    It’s about time that Dershowitz retire, as much as it is about time to retire the delusions of peace between Israel and her moslem neighbours.
    I think Dershowitz needs to enter a clinic and undergo “peace process detox”…

  • Abbas denies the Holocaust. Read his Phd thesis which is now a book. A man who denies the Holocaust will never seriously negotiate with Israel. Anyone who thinks otherwise is completely naive about the existence of evil.

  • Rabbi Eilfort

    Mr. Dershowitz surely means well, but his suggested ‘peace plan’ is a fantasy. What will it take for him and others in the “peace camp” to realize that even if the Palestinians would want peace, something which is clearly not the case and has never been the case, they could deliver it? Even if one group of Palestinians gives in to all of Israel’s demands another would be firing away with their rockets into Israel, and would be striving for power. And when Israel would be forced to respond militarily, we already know the world will blame Israel.

    Enough already! Israel belongs to the Jews. The Arabs can have the other 99% of the Middle East. The more Israel is pressured to make peace with these frauds, the weaker her position becomes. Enough already! The Jews must unapologetically support a Jewish Israel. The Palestinians should be induced (through generous incentives) to move out of the only Jewish homeland.

  • Obama supporter and incurable liberal

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