As Israel settlement freeze ends, one-year peace plan begins
Israel's 10-month settlement freeze ends today, and the clock starts ticking on a Sept. 2011 deadline for a comprehensive peace agreement.
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Past missed deadlines
This conflict is no stranger to missed deadlines.Skip to next paragraph
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The original target to finish negotiations on a Palestinian statehood during the Oslo process was 1999. The multi-phased roadmap peace blueprint issued by the administration of former President George W. Bush in 2003 was supposed to have created a Palestinian state by 2008. The direct peace talks initiated in 2007 by the Bush administration in Annapolis, Md. were also supposed to be wrapped up in a year.
Despite the missed goals, however, using the deadlines helps the US inject the talks with a sense of urgency.
The most often-mentioned blueprint for a deal revolves around the peace parameters published in 2001 before the departure of former President Bill Clinton, who unsuccessfully mediated a final deal between Israelis and Palestinians in the final months of his second term. The Geneva Accord, a model peace deal reached by out-of-office Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, could be another touchstone.
"It’s not like the leaders have to open up the books and start studying proposals," said Gershon Baskin, the co-director of the Israel Palestinian Center for Research and Information. "What is required is decision making.’’
A piecemeal approach
Baskin and others believe that the sides should use the time to reach a piecemeal agreement in order to build confidence in the negotiations, rather that an all-or-nothing package deal that was the goal of previous rounds.
One suggestion raised involves setting a three-month deadline for an agreement on a mutual border – a modification of the 1967 Green Line to annex Jewish settlement blocs in exchange for the same area of territory.
It is widely assumed that the sides will have an easier time reaching an agreement on land compared to resolving issues that lie at the heart of their competing narratives like claims on holy sites in Jerusalem or Palestnian refugees.
"We should concentrate on a partial agreement that creates a Palestinain state within defined borders,'' said Yossi Alpher, the co-editor of Bitterlemons.org, an Israeli Palestinian web-based opinion journal."
"I don’t believe that given who the leaders are, given their ideologies, that they are capable of reaching an agreement. On the refugee issue and the Jerusalem basin issue, we cannot agree. These are core issues that are best left aside.''