Gershon Baskin
The Jerusalem Post (Opinion)
June 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The PLO leadership has made its decision.

In September it will ask the United Nations to recognize the State of Palestine in the pre-June 4, 1967 borders and grant it membership. After submitting an official letter to the secretary-general in which they will request to become a member state of the UN, the representatives of Palestine will declare that they will adhere to the UN Charter and that they are a peace-loving state.

The letter will be submitted to the Security Council, where a committee of all its members will debate the issue and then, within 35 days, submit its positive recommendation to the General Assembly.

If the United States uses its veto in the vote, there will be no way for Palestine to become a member. We should recall, though, that Israel’s first attempt to gain UN membership also failed, becoming a member one year later.

There are many additional options that the supporters of Palestine can pursue at the UN.

Many of them could and should be supported by Israel as well. UN decisions on this conflict are not always automatically against Israel, and if Israel were wise enough, it would understand that it could in fact leverage decisions that aim to support Palestine to support Israel’s rights as well, including the “acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area, and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” as stated in UNSC Resolution 242.

THE FOLLOWING is a summary of some creative and useful ideas that have recently been presented: In The New York Times this week, Yossi Alpher, Colette Avital, Shlomo Gazit and Mark Heller outlined their vision: Reaffirm support for two states for two peoples and the right of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples to self-determination, without prejudice to the rights of all citizens and minority groups; recall UN Resolution 181 of 1947, which called for the establishment of a Jewish state and an Arab state; support the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines, with its capital in east Jerusalem in parallel with Israel’s recognized capital in west Jerusalem, and with mutually agreed territorial swaps, subject to negotiation – a state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and security; recognize that extending the authority of a Palestinian state to the Gaza Strip will depend on effective control there by a legitimate Palestinian government that exercises authority in the West Bank and is committed to the Quartet principles and the Arab Peace Initiative; and call for both states to engage in good-faith negotiations on security arrangements that neutralize threats and enable the phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Prof. Jerome Segal from the University of Maryland suggests that the UN General Assembly reestablish UNSCOP, the UN Special Committee on Palestine, and direct that UNSCOP-2 present to the General Assembly, within six months, a fully detailed peace agreement that would resolve all the permanent- status issues of the conflict.

The UNSCOP-2 proposal could become the basis for a new form of negotiations. Once UNSCOP-2 completes its work, Israel and Palestine would be asked to negotiate for three months to see if they can agree on any mutually acceptable improvements. After three months, the two sides could ask for more time, or announce their failure to reach an agreement or, hopefully, announce an agreed text. If failure ensues, then the UNGA could ask the US to resume its central role, and to offer bridging proposals. It could call on both states to hold binding referenda on a draft treaty, or perhaps it would determine that at this point in history an end-of-conflict agreement cannot be reached, and that what is needed, either by agreement or by UN action, is a determination of the border that will separate the two states and be the basis of a long-term hudna.

In a letter to President Barack Obama in January, Lee Hamilton, David Boren, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci and William Fallon wrote “It has been said that terms for a peace accord cannot be imposed on the parties. But surely the United States can declare the principles that will henceforth determine what this country will support and what it cannot and will not support. The declaration would serve to let friends and foes throughout the world know that America remains faithful to the principles and values that you so eloquently articulated in your address in Cairo...

If US parameters are rejected by Israel or by the Palestinian Authority (or by both) as the framework for a permanent-status agreement, they should be submitted for adoption by the UN Security Council. We are persuaded that a clear statement reflecting longstanding American principles would influence the debate within Israeli and Palestinian societies far more consequentially and constructively than a renewal of the unproductive bilateral talks that have taken place to date. Such a statement would also help diminish Iranian influence in the region, improve Israel’s security, and reduce the risk of a military conflict with Iran.”

HERE ARE some of my own proposals: The Palestinians should submit, together with their request for UN membership, a Declaration of Peace with the State of Israel. The declaration should state that Palestine exists in the June 4, 1967 borders but recognizes the need to negotiate the end of the Israeli occupation, and that Palestine is prepared to enter into negotiations based on the Obama parameters of agreed territorial swaps. Furthermore, it would declare that the State of Palestine will be non-militarized, that Jerusalem will be an open city and the capital of the two states, and that Palestine is waiting for Israel’s signature and agreement to negotiate all outstanding issues in order to end the conflict and the claims. The Declaration of Peace would be submitted to the UN for a vote of support by its members.

If the US vetoes Palestine membership, the PLO should seek to have the Security Council pass a resolution that would replace 242 as the basis for negotiations, being that 242 makes no mention of Palestine at all.

The new Security Council resolution could put forth the parameters of peace, including the exact wording from Obama’s speech as well as the Clinton parameters and elements of the Arab Peace Initiative.

Whatever does happen in the UN in September, it is essential that it preserve the two states for two peoples solution and create an enabling environment for the final resolution of the conflict.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017