Europe, Don't Repeat Kerry's UN Resolution Failure

In formulating a replacement for the Palestinian UNSC proposal, European powers must present a complete package, acceptable to both sides. The time for courage is now.


France’s plan to formulate a UN Security Council resolution to replace the Palestinian proposal is a necessary step in advancing the negotiations between the parties, but any such document must address in detail all of the issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is, it must be a package deal that provides a balanced response to the demands of both sides.

France’s future proposal has the potential to succeed UN Security Council Resolution 242. In light of the great responsibility this entails, its framers must avoid submitting an incomplete resolution which refers in detail only to the end of the occupation and to the territorial aspects of the final arrangement. The other issues of the conflict are no less weighty, and without a clear map for resolving them the next diplomatic paralysis will not be long in coming. In addition, anything other than a clear and balanced proposal would be biased, and as a result would be interpreted as interfering in Israel’s general election in March.

The package deal must include six key issues. The first four of these contain an element of “give and take.” Israel must accept the territorial parameter, that is borders based on the 1967 lines with exchanges of territory, while the Palestinians must agree to the demand for a demilitarized state, without an army or heavy weapons, as well as to additional security arrangements such as the use by the Israel Air Force of their airspace. In exchange for Israel agreeing to the establishment of two capitals in Jerusalem, with special arrangements for the “holy basin,” the Palestinians must be prepared to view compensation and the return of refugees to the Palestinian state as the fulfillment of the “right of return.”

The fifth issue involves Arab support for the establishment of the Palestinian state and the full normalization of relations with Israel, in keeping with the Arab League peace initiative. The Palestinians need the support of the Arab states in resolving all of the issues, because these states’ involvement is needed in order to solve them. The security issues involve Egypt and Jordan, the issues of the holy sites involve Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco and the refugee issue involves Jordan and Lebanon. Israel, for its part, has the right to enjoy the fruits of peace and the strengthening of ties with the Arab world, which will contribute to the stability of the agreement.

The sixth issue is that of the parties’ mutual recognition. The State of Israel will be recognized as the national home of the Jewish people and the state of Palestine will be recognized as the national home of the Palestinian people, in conjunction with the guarantee of equal rights for all inhabitants of both states.

Spelling out such parameters will make clear to the Israelis and the Palestinians the choices they must make. Their leaders will no longer be able to whitewash their positions with tired slogans such as “painful concessions” or “the peace of the brave.” A clear price tag, a profit-and-loss statement, will attach to each issue, all of them in a single deal. That way, leaders on both sides will no longer be able to make populist hay by declaring their commitment to a permanent arrangement while demanding the removal from the agreement of one of its components. For example, the Israeli demand for a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty or the Palestinian demand for a large number of refugees to return to the State of Israel.

Europe must not repeat the main error of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the last round of talks. His failure to draft a proposal that was acceptable to both sides and to present a complete framework agreement rendered his efforts worthless. The Europeans must now show great courage and make decisions no less painful than those of the parties to the conflict. Such a demonstration can manifest itself in a full and balanced proposal that could spur the two sides to demonstrate similar courage.