Israel must set out its parameters for peace

Israel must set out its parameters for peace

 By Michael Herzog, Financial Times

22.5.2011
via Financial Times (click to read entire article)

EXCERPT

Should Israel stand still, or seize the initiative?

There is a strong argument for the latter. As long as Israel lacks its own peace initiative, it will struggle to garner international support for calling on Mr Abbas to choose peace with it over peace with Hamas.
 
Israel would do well to propose its own ideas and parameters for peace. These should address elements of importance to both parties, with the aim of establishing a framework for ending the conflict. The terms should include the 1967 lines with agreed land swaps as the territorial baseline for negotiations, and security arrangements that meet Israel’s needs, including a demilitarised Palestinian state. If not in public, then at least in private with Mr Obama, Mr Netanyahu should have subscribed to such parameters, which the US and European Union could propose in response to the motion to the UN in September. The UN resolution may not be averted, but these moves could help balance the resolution, leaving the door open for negotiations. They could also test the real intentions of the two Palestinian factions.
 
The new Palestinian government should be judged also by deeds. Can it facilitate peace? Will it sustain the existing excellent Palestinian-Israeli counter-terrorism co-ordination in the West Bank? Can Hamas ultimately pass the test of democracy it has failed until now, by allowing free elections, even if it stands to lose? There is a broader context to these questions. Grappling with the political inclusion of Islamists is a region-wide problem. We should both be empowering moderates, and finding ways to test Islamists’ commitment to sustained democracy and peace. This applies as much to Hamas as to any other Islamist player.
 
The writer, a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces, is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has participated in all of Israel’s peace negotiations with Palestinians and Arabs since 1993