Michael Oren’s ‘Plan B’ for Mideast Peace

Speaking yesterday at the Atlantic Council in D.C., former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, discussed the latest failed round of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and what approach he thinks should be taken going forward.

“There is no agreement on what the final agreement will be,” Oren said. He added, “Friends, that’s without even discussing the status of Jerusalem”

“The question is where do we go from here?

“I have advocated for what I call, Plan B:

“Plan B is an initiative designed to ensure Israel’s democratic and Jewish integrity. It will enable Israel to defend itself all the while keeping the door open to a more permanent negotiated solution. This is how it works…”

“If and when the Palestinians declare a state at the U.N., and they will define it according to the 1967 lines, Israel will then declare it’s own borders. These borders will not conform to the separation barrier, they will not conform to the breakdown of the West Bank under Oslo into ‘Areas A, B, and C.’ Rather, those borders will follow demographic lines. They will seek to include the maximum number of Israelis within Israel’s borders and the minimum number of Palestinians. They will ensure a unified Jerusalem and include Jewish holy places — which is important for Israeli constituencies. But most vitally for Israel, it will maintain Israel’s deployment in the Jordan valley and it will also preserve Israel’s latitude of action. These borders can be drawn while maintaining contiguous Palestinian control over those areas where the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank live. It requires some creativity but it can be drawn. In short, Plan B ends what the Palestinians, and most of the world, call “the occupation” and will greatly reduce the threat of sanctions to Israel. While it will not remove the threat of terrorism — no solution can — it will provide Israel with a means to continue to defend itself. This is not, I stress, disengagement from Gaza redux. It will be clear, Israel’s not going back to the ’67 lines. Israel will not give up it’s military prerogatives. Israel will keep control of the airspace and uphold the right of ‘hot pursuit’ which it has today. In Gaza, we uprooted all the settlements but in Plan B borders will be drawn to encompass the great majority of settlements and it will enable the relocation of a select few settlements. Let’s be clear, the Palestinians will not like Plan B. Which I see as a positive factor because only if they dislike Plan B will they have an incentive to come back to the negotiating table. The door will be kept open and they can come back without pre-conditions to negotiate a two state solution which will be more to their liking. I stress, a two state solution is the preferable course but it may take years and generations to accomplish. In the interim though, we can create a situation in which two states have a border dispute similar to ongoing border disputes between countries such as China and India, Britain and Spain, and even between Canada and the U.S. Israelis and Palestinians can lead secure and prosperous lives while they learn to coexist. Clearly, a fundamental factor in guaranteeing Plan B’s success is support from foreign governments, above all from the United States.”


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