That's No Way to Make Peace

The security arrangements seen in the Geneva Initiative may work in a utopian state, but in reality they exist nowhere in the world.

An examination of the names of the Palestinian and Israeli authors of the recently-released security annex in the Geneva Initiative reveals that the former are official representatives of the Palestinian Authority, while the latter are retired brigadier generals and colonels from the Israel Defense Forces with no official status.

The text itself leaves the reader wondering whether to laugh or cry. What is clear is that this document is no way to make peace. It is also clear that when security issues are left to former officers - even well-intentioned ones who support the Geneva Initiative - they are only capable of seeing peace through the sight of a rifle. The document is not a peace initiative, but rather a draft for an armed armistice that would make life in Israel and the Palestinian state one of mutual siege, full of suspicion and threats.

These are a few examples of how the security aspect of the Geneva Initiative, without getting into the political issues, make the idea of peace a bad joke. The Palestinian state would have three roads where Israelis could travel without a passport, including Route 443 from Maccabim Junction to the entrance of Jerusalem. An Israeli who wishes to travel on this road would have to have both GPS and SOS capabilities. Not exactly a peace border, especially for those living in Modi'in and working in Jerusalem.

The border crossing would be situated on French Hill. A Palestinian seeking to enter Jerusalem would have to pass through two terminals, an Israeli and a Palestinian one, connected by an underground passage, and would then be able to get on the light rail system. The Israeli terminal would presumably be staffed by security personnel. Not exactly a peace border either.

The Old City would, in effect, have international status. Israeli and Palestinians would be able to enter it without passports, but two international forces would be deployed within the walls. It remains to be determined who would ensure the safety of worshipers at the Western Wall, or prevent Jewish extremists from breaking into the Temple Mount compound. In a utopian state such international arrangements may work, but in reality they exist nowhere in the world. The composition of the forces and who would be in charge is unclear. Would Israel retain any jurisdiction over the Old City's residents, or would they be under the jurisdiction of international forces? This mess is called internationalization.

An Israeli infantry battalion would remain in the Jordan Valley and three international battalions would be deployed along the border with Jordan, with another battalion along the Philadelphi route, which separates the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Such a massive international military presence exists in no other country that has peaceful relations with its neighbors.

The Palestinian state would be demilitarized but have a police force, naval police force, national security forces, internal security organizations, border police and various other security apparatuses. The troops would be equipped with light arms only, and when needed would receive more serious crowd-dispersal equipment from the international forces. Anyone who believes such a mechanism could function under stress during riots is probably an academic.

In short, this is an ineffective and unpractical militarization of peace arrangements. An early alert and security mechanism would have to be part of any arrangement, but a cumbersome, multidimensional and force-oriented system such as this is a recipe not for peace, but for friction and misunderstanding. It would make the people of Israel and Palestine the subjects of countless competing military, local and international authorities. Let's hope the U.S. administration realizes this, in case this bizarre program is ever presented to it.