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A Palestinian peace plan for all of us

12/02/2009

Palestinian-American community leader, author and comedian Ray Hanania announced his candidacy for the Palestinian Authority presidency, if and when there are elections. Meanwhile, he offers the public his peace plan, a plan that at last, we should all be able to accept. He has launched the Yalla Peace Web site and the Ray Hanania for President of Palestine Facebook group to promote his candidacy and the plan, and he wrote about in Huffington Post and Jerusalem Post.

The essentials of the plan:

1. I support two-states, one Israel and one Palestine. As far as I am concerned, I can recognize Israel's "Jewish" character and Israelis should recognize Palestine's "non-Jewish" character.

2. I oppose violence of any kind from and by anyone. I reject Hamas' participation in any Palestinian government without first agreeing to surrender all arms and to accept two-states as a "final" peace agreement. But I also reject allowing Israeli settlers to carry any weapons and believe Israelis must impose the same restrictions on them.

3. I can support some settlements remaining - given the reality of 42 years of time passing - in a dunam-for-dunam land exchange. If Ariel is 500 dunams with a lifeline from Israel, then Israel gives Palestine 500 dunams in exchange.

4. Jerusalem should be a shared city and Palestinians should have an official presence in East Jerusalem. The Old City should be shared by both permitting open access to the city to all with a joint Palestinian-Israeli police presence.

5. Palestinian refugees would give up their demand to return to pre-1948 homes and lands lost during the conflict with Israel. Instead, some could apply for family reunification through Israel and the remainder would be compensated through a fund created and maintained by the United States, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Nations.

6. I also think Israelis should find it in their hearts to show compassion and offer their apologies to Palestinians for the conflict.

7. I support creation of a similar fund to compensate those Jews from Arab lands who lost their homes and lands, too, when they fled.

8. I think the Wall should be torn down, or relocated to the new borders. I have no problem separating the two nations for a short duration to help rebuild confidence between our two people.

9. All political parties, Palestinian and Israelis, should eliminate languages denying each other's existence, and all maps should be reprinted so that Israeli maps finally show Palestine and Palestinian maps finally show Israel.

10. A subway system should be built linking the West Bank portion of the Palestine state to the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestine State. Palestine should be permitted to build a seaport access to strengthen its industry, and an airport to permit flights and too and from the Arab and Israeli world.

11. I would urge the Arab World to renew their offer to normalize relations with Israel if Israel agrees to support the creation of a Palestinian State.

12. And I would ask both countries to establish embassies in each other's country to address other problems.

13. While non-Jewish Palestinians would continue to live in Israel as citizens, Jews who wish to live in settlements surrendered by Israel could become Palestinian citizens and they should be recognized and treated equally.

14. If Jews want to live in Hebron, they should be allowed to live in Hebron and should be protected, just as non-Jews. In fact, for every Jewish individual seeking to live in Palestine, a Palestinian should be permitted to live in Israel. In fact, major Palestinian populations in Israel could be annexed into Palestine (like settlements).

15. Another concept is to have non-Jews living in Israel continue to live there but only vote in Palestinian elections, while Jews living in Palestine would only vote in Israeli elections. A special citizenship protection committee could be created to explore how to protect the rights of minorities in each state.

16. Israel and Palestine should create joint-governing and security agencies working with the United States to monitor the peace, and establish an agency to pursue criminal acts of violence.

Hanania explained his plan and his candidacy in the Huffingtion Post:

Yes, I am running for President of Palestine in the next election, if there is one. No, I don't expect to win. But then, many long shot candidates who don't expect to win, actually find themselves winning.

Still, my goal isn't to win office but to help re-ignite the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis not by pushing the leaders to do their jobs and stop putzing around but by reaching out to the grassroots Palestinian and Israeli publics.

I figure the leaders are hemming and hawing and violating past agreements because they believe the public doesn't care any more and that things have gotten so bad that conflict seems like a better alternative. Conflict is never a better alternative.

So I threw my political hat in the proverbial election campaign ring, and I am tossing my tongue in my stand up comedian cheek, too, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, the publics of both people can return to a place of sanity and end the blame game.

We all have to agree that conflict is not a better alternative. If you like the spirit of the plan, join the Ray Hanania for President of Palestine Facebook group to show your support, and tell friends.

The main point of the plan that should make it acceptable to Israelis is that Palestinian refugees would be admitted to Israel only to the extent that settlers remain in Palestinian areas. In essence, he is asking the Palestinians to relinquish the "right of return" for refugees, or to condition it on the right of Jews to settle in Palestinian areas. Without this, everyone who thinks about it understands that peace cannot happen. Hanania explains why this this necessary here.

Hanania's plan is in principle not too different from the Geneva Accord and the Clinton Bridging Proposals. The plan has gotten a favorable write up from Bradley Burston in Haaretz

What is important about Hanania's plan and his candidacy is that they have the potential to become a rallying point for Israeli and Palestinian supporters of the two state solution, and I dearly hope that this will happen. As the name "Yalla Peace" implies, the plan offers a challenge to both Palestinian and Israeli leaders to finally get on with the business of peace. It also challenges all the peace groups and those who lament the fate of the Palestinian people or the Israeli people. Here is a solution that is about as good as it gets - the peace we have all been waiting for. One would hope that all the different groups and lobbies would get behind this plan. One would hope that J Street, the self-styled pro-Israel peace lobby would come up with a campaign for a "sense of congress" resolution supporting this plan. One would hope that the EU, instead of looking for ways to support solutions that threaten one side or the other, would urge the sides to take up this plan without delay.

Frankly though, Ray Hanania doesn't need my support, or the support of the EU or the Americans, or the support of Bradley Burston. And I don't really, desperately need a peace plan. No bombs fell in our town. My movements are not restricted, and I am not announcing to the media each day that I am starving in a siege. I am content if Israel keeps all of Jerusalem and I am not terribly upset if Israel hangs on to Hebron and Ariel all the rest, though I am not happy about the fanaticism that is beginning to eat away at Israeli society, and I am not happy about the isolation and vilification of Israel and some of the policies of our government. As for Mr. Obama and American officialdom, they will miss some laurels and photo-ops if there is no peace, and their foreign policy in the Middle East will continue to be complicated by the conflict, but they won't miss any meals because of it. But the Palestinians, by every objective measure, need peace much more than the Israelis do, and much more than the Americans do.The Palestinians need his peace plan or one just like it if they are ever to climb out of their present misery. Peace will put an end to the suffering of the refugees, an end to sieges and checkpoints and bad government, an end to settlement building and a chance to live happy and normal lives. That is the opportunity that this plan and others like it represent. And Ray Hanania needs the support of the Palestinians if he is going to succeed.

So where are the Palestinians? If Hanania can get just a symbolic number of Palestinians to support his plan, Israelis will know that there is a real peace partner on the other side. The Israeli peace movement, killed by the Intifada, may come to life again, and that would be a major achievement in itself. Even if the plan is not adopted, but becomes a part of the public discussion and makes people think about peace, that too would be a worthwhile accomplishment. But imagine if the Palestinians were to really adopt this plan, and present it to the Israeli public and the Israeli government and the world as Palestinian policy. Could any Israeli government refuse to implement this plan? There would certainly be peace in a short time, despite the protests of extremists. Of course, Israel would benefit. Israel would have security and unchallenged international legitimacy. The perennial "Question of Palestine" would finally be off the agenda of the UN. Judge Goldstone and Richard Falk would be out of jobs. Nobody would buy books about the Israel Lobby and the Zionist conspiracy any more, though a few people would certainly keep writing them.

But the Palestinians would be the real beneficiaries. The Palestinians would have a state with a capital in Jerusalem, they would have freedom, self-respect and a chance for a new start. I Logically, every peace group, every Palestinian advocacy group, every politician that has the interests of the Palestinians and of peace at heart should rally to this plan, and so too, should the Palestinian public. Can we hope for any of this?

One can always hope, but the reality seems to be different. It isn't happening. So far, not a single organization has rallied to Hanania's call. His candidacy and his plan have not, to my knowledge been written up in Palestinian or other Arab media. Do "peace" organizations only support the causes of leaders with guns and bombs? Is it possible that all the organizations that support legitimizing Hamas in the name of "peace," ignore Ray Hanania because he has not blown anyone up? Is blowing people up the required qualification for leadership and recognition by "peace" groups? And what about those who insist on dialog with Iran? Are they deaf to Ray Hanania just because he is not refining lots of nice uranium?

Hanania's plan is not different in principle from that of Sari Nusseibeh and Ami Ayalon. Unlike the Geneva initiative and the Arab peace initiative, both Nusseibeh and Hananiah come right out and say there will be no return of refugees to Israel and no "right of return." It is not hidden behind the poisonous "creative ambiguity" of "international legitimacy" and "just solutions" and "Applicable UN Resolutions." And that is why Hanania, like Nusseibeh, is probably going to be vilified and ignored, both by Palestinians and by Zionist extremists. But their proposal is the only way to end the conflict, and the rejection of any proposal that does not include the "right" of return tells us how very far we are from peace.

Nonetheless, now is the time for everyone to decide, what the Palestinian cause and the Zionist cause, and what the peace organizations are really about. If they are really about peace and freedom and self-determination for the Palestinians and the Jews, they will adopt this plan as their own and make it happen.

And if not? Then at least Ray Hanania did his duty and said what had to be said. People will laugh at him now. But in five years, and if not in five years than in 50 years, they will understand that he is right.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 4 comments

Ami

It appears your analysis of Hanania's proposal omits to deal with a substantive amendment made by him two weeks after his initial launch which provides the following additional proposal:

"Israel must be ready to compromise on the settlements and the Palestinians must be ready to compromise on the refugees.

In exchange for compromise on the Right of Return of the Palestinian Refugees, Israel must be ready to freeze all settlement activity and withdraw from settlements. How many settlements should it withdraw from?

The details can and should be decided by Israel and Palestinians through negotiations. But, we can accept a framework for that resolution and create an atmosphere of peace through which resolution of these details can be facilitated.

V-COMPONENTS

PART 1: LAND SWAP

For every settlement that Israel seeks to keep in the original West Bank, Israel must be prepared to give Palestine and equal amount of land mass from Israel contiguous with the West Bank. Israel must trade dunum-for-dunum land it keeps, surrendering an equal area of land to Palestine.

PART 2: PEOPLE SWAP

For every Jewish settler living in the settlements that Israel keeps, Israel must be ready to permit that number of Palestinian Refugees to return to Israel, (who wish to return).

Israel will provide those Palestinians compensation through the Compensation Fund to build homes, and land on which to build their homes in Israel. Those Palestinian refugees would be given full rights of Israeli citizenship, but would enter Israel through its immigration procedures.

This exchange plan must be completed in five years, with 50 percent of the population allowed to enter Israel within two years of the program beginning.

They would be treated the same way as Jews who return to Israel and be given the same benefits and compensation and support from the Israeli government.

If Israel seeks to retain all of the settlements, then Israel must be prepared to allow up to 500,000 Palestinian refugees to return to live in Israel, should they chose to do so, as Israeli citizens.

The remaining Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return, through the Compensation Fund, to the new Palestine State, or be permitted to travel to any country that wishes to accept them. The choice is up to them.

The Arab World would be required to provide a home and land in their countries for every Palestinian seeking resettlement in this plan.

Israel can reduce the number of Refugees it accepts by returning settlers and disbanding existing settlements. The final number is up to them."

Does the inclusion of these new conditions in any way affect your conclusions as to the acceptability of Hanania's proposals?

Posted by david singer @ 12/07/2009 02:33 AM CST

for me its a serious problem that passing palestinian towns in israel i am scared to leave my car. the conflicts between palestinian and israeli people in haifa are normal regular everyday problem. its very sad. palestinian people lived here for a long time. i am sure we can find some solution for this, i think israel have to start with giving to the palestinian people same rights with israeli people..

Posted by bluma@israel @ 02/12/2010 05:09 PM CST

I imagine there are thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who are scared to leave their homes for fear of being attacked by gun-toting Settlers or detained by the IDF. Worse, they are afraid to leave their villages for fear of not being allowed to return.

For this problem to end, the illegal occupation must end. The occupation will not end until Israel realizes it cannot use it to justify taking land.

Posted by Kiev500 @ 02/18/2010 05:42 AM CST

Refugee:

Both sides will have to make some concessions. The problem is Israel has not made any serious concession offers in previous peace negotiations. The international Road Map contracting parties (Quartet) should force Israel to stop all settlement activity until a peace agreement is reached. The Israeli desire to build should be a motivating factor driving resolution of the peace process. This will not happen as long as Israel continues to build illegally without consequences.

At this point, all I can do is ask you what concessions you would be willing to accept for creation of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders (Green Line).

For instance, would a majority of all Palestinians vote to relinquish the Right of Return for monetary compensation and the opportunity to live in a sovereign Palestinian state on 1967 borders?

Would a majority of Palestinians vote to support the sale or trade of a small part of West Bank land (approximately 1 percent, along the 1967 border) to Israel in order to facilitate the peace process? Basically, this would provide politica

Posted by Kiev500 @ 04/10/2010 08:02 AM CST


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