LDFP Peace Talks Proposal

Proposed Nine Point Action Plan now that the Kerry peace talks have failed

What should the position of the British Government be now that the peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have failed? Lib Dem Friends of Palestine set out below a nine point action plan for the British Government. These nine points are all based on three principles:

  1. Impracticability of a one state solution: The nine points are predicated on the assumption that the two state solution remains the most realistic possibility at the present time;
  2. International law: The only way in which peace can be achieved is by taking the rights of both parties in international law as the starting point for negotiations. The repeated failure of attempted negotiations which are not expressly predicated on the mutual recognition of the other side’s rights in international law demonstrates that this is the correct approach;
  3. Absence of historical narrative: The nine points look to the future, not to the past. They therefore do not deal with any issues concerning the historical narrative. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that aspects of the historical record will be important for establishing the facts on which the rights of the parties are based.

The Nine Points

1. Immediate recognition by the Government of the United Kingdom of the State of Palestine within the boundaries of 4 June 1967.

Comment: These boundaries reflect the position in international law, since the acquisition of territory by an occupying power is inadmissible. To recognise the State of Palestine on the basis of just the territory within the control of the Palestine National Authority under the Oslo Accords, rather than on the basis of that portion of the territory of the former British Mandate of Palestine which Israel occupied in June 1967, would reduce Palestine to a Bantustan. Palestine now fulfils the requirements of a sovereign state set out in the 1933 Montevideo Convention and the British Government may accordingly recognise it if it has the political will to do so.

2. Call for the suspension of the Israel-EU trade association agreement and all other agreements granting Israel trade or other privileges within the EU until such time as Israel itself recognises Palestine within the boundaries of 4 June 1967 and cooperates with Palestine on security issues, including assisting with the evacuation of any settlements on Palestinian soil constructed during the period of Israeli occupation which the State of Palestine decides to remove.

Comment: The call for the suspension of the Association Agreement is justified because Israel is in manifest breach of Article 2 thereof. The international law doctrine of the critical date means that acts carried out by a power in occupation of territory over which it does not have sovereignty cannot be pleaded as evidence of sovereignty. Such acts by Israel should be considered legally null and void.

3. Call for the State of Palestine to be enabled to exercise its sovereignty over the entirety of its territory, if necessary with appropriate assistance from the UN, NATO and the Arab League. The call would include the demand that the Palestinian police take over with immediate effect all police duties in East Jerusalem and areas “B” and “C” of the West Bank from the Israeli occupation authorities, if necessary with the support of forces from the UN, NATO and the Arab League.

Comment: Israel must accept that Palestine has sovereignty over its territory. This includes jurisdiction over Israeli citizens who are living in that territory or who visit it.
4. Call for the immediate release of all Palestinian Parliamentarians, including Marwan Barghouti, and child prisoners from Israeli gaols as a confidence building measure.

Comment: There may well be other confidence building measures that could be added here. It should be noted that this suggestion does not even require Israel to release all prisoners who have been detained with inadequate process.

5. Call for the parties to resume negotiations for a peace treaty which would deal in particular with questions such as land swaps and the rights of refugees.

Comment: A treaty must be negotiated at arms’ length in order to be acceptable to both sides. It must also be based on the parties’ rights in international law. The British Government should spell out what those rights are according to its understanding of international law, and draw attention to any areas of legal uncertainty. The principle that the rights of both sides in international law must be the starting point for negotiations would ensure that the negotiations proceed on a realistic path.

6. Call for the State of Palestine to hold parliamentary elections.

Comment: Palestine, like Israel is a democracy, but it is a much more fragile one because it has been prevented (not least by the actions of Israel’s occupation forces) from developing the same traditions of democratic practice. It now needs to conduct elections in accordance with its constitution, and without interference from the occupation authorities. A newly elected government would be empowered to negotiate peace.

7. Drafting of legislation applying sanctions against individuals and companies which operate directly or indirectly in the State of Palestine without satisfying the formal requirements of Palestine or complying with the law of Palestine. The legislation should include a positive
obligation on companies to exercise vigilance to ensure that none of their officers, employees, subsidiaries or affiliates operates in the State of Palestine without satisfying the formal requirements of Palestine or complying with the laws of Palestine. Parent companies which fail in this obligation should also be sanctioned accordingly.

Comment: The purpose of this provision is to make the economic cost to Israel of maintaining its current position in the occupied territories prohibitive. The expression “exercise vigilance” would impose a positive obligation on companies to ensure that they take no action that underpins the occupation in any way. Ignorance should be no excuse.

8. Special arrangements to ensure access to religious sites under UN auspices including a UN role in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Comment: This is self-explanatory.

9. A public education campaign in the UK: to explain why resolving this long running dispute is crucial to world peace and which sets out the basic rights of each party in international law which must be taken into account by the parties when negotiating a final peace agreement.

Comment: This again is self-explanatory. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a long-running sore which continues to de-stabilise the Middle East and has also fuelled religious extremism.