And now it appears as thought the Roadmap to Peace has veered off the on-ramp to civility after less then a month of peaceful co-existence. That peace was shattered by yet another militant Palestinian lunatic with a bomb who ended twenty Israeli lives and ruined scores, and scores of others. The Israeli’s, in turn, dusted off targeted assassinations, which prompted the militant Islamic factions to call off the ceasefire. And the cycle continues anew.
Quick question(s): where is the general outcry from the world when Israeli women and children are being murdered by high-grade explosives, ball bearings, nails, broken glass, rocks, and shrapnel? Where are the demonstrations in the streets of world cities against the Palestinian thugs who murder the innocent, pushing peace off a cliff into the abyss? Where is the indignation? Where are the UN resolutions denouncing terror and calling on the Palestinian Authority to once and for all rein in its militant arms?
But I digress. I believe in order to advance the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East, a new paradigm needs to be realized (no, I mean a real one this time), one in which the Arab nations and the Palestinian militant groups play a central part in the peace process; the Roadmap to Peace, however well-intended, falls way short of the mark. This new paradigm is one in which Israel is recognized as a viable state; one in which the state of Palestine finally comes into being. Let’s call it the Martin Plan for Middle East Peace.
The Martin Plan would have three over-riding objectives at its core:
- Recognition of Israel by the Palestinians (to include Islamic fundamentalist groups) and Arab nations as a legitimate state;
- It would seek to create that which the Palestinians claim they want: a homeland of their own with its capital in East Jerusalem, and;
- A cessation of the violence by militant Islamic fundamentalist groups.
The main points of the Martin Plan are as follows:
- Israel has a right to exist as a sovereign nation with internationally recognized borders.
- The Palestinian people have a right to a separate homeland bordering Israel.
- Israel would withdraw all troops from the occupied territories and will cease all work on settlements.
- The Palestinian Authority would renounce violence and terror. And the Authority will further renounce all claims to land in Israel proper, and give up the right of resettlement in said lands.
- All West Bank lands north of the Dead Sea, together with land given over by Jordan adjacent to it, would form a new Palestinian state, with its capital in East Jerusalem.
- All remaining West Bank territory bordering the Dead Sea in the east including the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron would be incorporated into Israel proper.
- Jordan would cede a tract of land (size to be negotiated) east of the West Bank to form a new Palestinian state.
- The Gaza Strip would be incorporated into Israel proper.
- The Sinai Peninsula would be spilt evenly between Israel and Egypt.
- Militant Islamic fundamentalist groups; i.e. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, etc. would recognize Israel’s right to exist and would further cease all hostilities against the Israeli people and state.
Under the Martin Plan, the United States would be called upon to act as mediator in the ongoing dispute between, not only the Israelis and the Palestinians, but the Arab states and Israel as well. Also, the U.S. would be called upon to stay engaged, and exert whatever pressure, and or, influence necessary to bring about as broad a blue print for peace by the end of 2003, and a final settlement by the end of 2004.
Under the Martin Plan, the United Nations would be called upon to become more actively engaged in the Middle-East beyond its current presence in the Sinai. This engagement should take the form of an official UN representative hand picked by the UN Secretary General to act as his surrogate in all matters concerning the UN’s part in the on-going negotiations, and the final agreement. The UN would provide a forum in which the on-going negotiations would take place. Finally, the UN and its member states would be called upon to provide those peacekeeping forces deemed necessary by the negotiating parties, to ensure the tenants of the final agreement are adhered to by all parties.
Under the Martin Plan, Israel would be called upon to immediately cease all military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and cease all work on existing Israeli settlements therein, and halt plans to begin any new settlements. Israel would be required adopt UN Resolutions 1397 and 1402, which recognizes need for a Palestinian state, and call for an immediate ceasefire between the two parties.
Under the Martin Plan, the Palestinian Authority led by Yassar Arafat/Mahmoud Abbas would be called upon to immediately denounce—in Arabic and English—the use of violence and terror as a means of achieving a political settlement to the current crisis. Failure of Arafat/Abbas to definitively denounce violence and terror, would lead to a UN resolution branding him/them an enemy of peace and call for his/their immediate replacement as the head(s) of the Palestinian Authority. Finally, the Palestinian Authority would be required to recognize UN Resolutions 1397 and 1402, which identifies the need for a Palestinian state, and call for an immediate ceasefire between the two parties.
Under the Martin Plan, the Arab Nations of the Middle East region (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq(?), Kuwait, the UAE, and Yemen) would be called upon to immediately recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation. Each would be asked to sign a UN security counsel resolution supporting said declaration. In addition, each Arab state would pledge to exchange ambassadors within a month of the resolutions’ adoption and agree to enter into separate negotiations with Israel to secure formal peace treaties. And they (Arab states) would end support for militant Islamic Palestinian extremist groups, whose sole aim is violence and terror, and denounce those Arab states that do not. Lastly, the Arab nations would be called upon to immediately cease state sponsored negative media coverage of Israel in which the destruction of state and the extinction of it people is called for, or endorsed.
Under the Martin Plan, those Arab states surrounding Israel: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, would all be asked to join the negotiating table and prove that they had the best interests of the Palestinian people and the cause of peace at heart. Also, under the plan, the main Palestinian militant groups Hamas (Gaza Strip), Hezbollah (southern Lebanon), Islamic Jihad, and Arafats' own Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (West Bank) would be asked to join the peace process, denounce terrorism and declare their support for a viable Jewish state, with recognized boarders. Failure of these groups to join the negotiating table in good faith would exclude them from future consideration; each would be branded an enemy of peace and its members accorded the same status as terrorist.
Under the Martin Plan, Jordan—which has by far the largest Palestinian population of any Arab nation—would be called upon to relinquish some land (size to be determined during negotiations) in the western part of that nation directly north of the Dead Sea. This sacrifice would be necessary to form a new Palestinian state, whose borders would be contiguous with those of the West Bank, and whose territory would be large enough to accommodate Palestinians both in the “occupied territories,” and in Jordan wishing to migrate to the newly form Palestine.
Under the Martin Plan, Syria would relinquish all claims to the Golan Heights and seek instead a lasting peace with Israel. Syria would further withdraw all troops from Lebanon, and cut off all financial and military aid to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
Under the Martin Plan, Egypt would relinquish the eastern portion of the Sinai Peninsula to Israel, and reclaim the western portion as its own. Neither country would be allowed militarize the peninsula except for those forces needed to patrol the border in peacetime.
Under the Martin Plan, Lebanon, with the blessing and active participation of Syria, would formally expel any and all Hezbollah forces from the central and southern regions of the country and no longer welcome them with open arms. The border with Israel would become demilitarized except for those forces needed to patrol the border in peacetime.
In closing, I am all too mindful of the ancient and emotional ties of all concerned to this small sliver of the Earth known as the Holy Land. And I am mindful as well of the deep spiritual meaning of the city of Jerusalem to Muslim and Jew alike. However, like a marriage between two souls seeking unity, peace, understanding, and mutual purpose, a compromise has to be struck. Neither side can have all of what they desire, each has to give, in order to get. The Martin Plan I believe is meaningful framework from which to build a lasting peace.
The old model for a lasting peace in the Middle East no longer seems to work; ceasefires fail, the bloodletting continues apace, and peace is pushed further and further from our collective grasps. We need a new mindset, a bold new plan (newsflash: the Roadmap to Peaceisn’t it), and a nation willing to lead the parties to a lasting peace with every tool in its arsenal. The United States is looked to by the rest of the world for leadership, its time Bush started exercising it (is that even possible?) and lead the region to a lasting peace, and I think the Martin Plan can help him realize that peace.