Thomas R. Mattair
Dr. Mattair, the Resident Policy Analyst at the Middle East Policy Council, has taught at Kent State University, the University of Southern California and Cornell University.<sup>1</sup>
In the post-Cold-War era, the United States has continuing national interests in the Middle East. These include preventing any hostile power from dominating the region; maintaining access to the region's oil at reasonable prices and to the region's strategic waterways; supporting and helping to defend Israel and friendly countries in the Arab world; and promoting human rights, socioeconomic development, political liberalization and self-determination. The unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict jeopardizes all of these interests, whereas the comprehensive resolution of the conflict would promote all of them.
This report is therefore intended to offer guidance about the U. S. role in promoting peace between Arabs and Israelis. It examines U.S. interests and objectives, draws conclusions that should guide the United States and suggests a set of strategies for advancing the negotiations that began in Madrid in October, 1991.
Lessons of the Past
The United States launched negotiations between Arabs and Israelis hoping that this would alter attitudes and perceptions and lead to breakthroughs. While attitudes and perceptions seem to be shifting slightly, there has been no breakthrough after over a year of negotiation. Many policy makers and analysts have argued that the United States cannot make peace if the regional parties themselves do not want to make peace and that the United States should therefore not intervene to try to break diplomatic stalemates. This may be why there is no peace. U.S. acceptance of the "lesson" that leverage or pressure will only work if the parties are close to agreement means that if the parties can remain far from agreement they can avoid being pressured. This enabled Israel under Begin and Shamir to persist in policies and to propose arrangements that foreclosed agreement. Only by linking loan guarantees to settlement-building did the United States influence the campaign in Israel and the election of an Israeli government that has been somewhat more flexible in negotiations.
The United States must realize that successful foreign policy rests not only on a clear understanding of national interests and a clear definition of objectives but also on a willingness to construct a strategy that employs both incentives and pressures. U.S. national interests as well as the U.S. investment of time, money, energy and prestige demand not just sustained involvement but also ultimate success in bringing about an exchange of territory for peace consistent with the many U.N. resolutions America has endorsed over the years. The United States is not a disinterested party, and therefore should not act like one, when it has national interests at stake and is Israel's principal benefactor. The United States should not follow all the so-called "lessons" of "successful" mediation when such mediation has failed to resolve this conflict and when the "lessons" call upon us to let the negotiations be controlled by one or more of the contestants.
Why Act Now?
There is an urgent need to resolve this conflict. Violence, killing and maiming occur in the occupied territories. southern Lebanon and Israel virtually every day. Palestinian human rights are violated routinely. Israel's soldiers, settlers and citizens live in an armed camp. The proliferation and thickening of Israeli settlements is creating geographic and demographic changes that threaten to foreclose compromise and peace. These developments jeopardize the local support Palestinian negotiators have for continuing negotiations and provoke further escalation of violence. The unresolved conflict fans extremist movements, both secular and Islamic, that threaten regional stability. All of this commands U.S. attention, because every American is involved through U.S. military, economic and political support for Israel. This support is meant to honor the special U.S. commitment to the survival of Israel within secure and recognized borders. However. U.S. unwillingness to take firm stands with Israel over critical issues is in fact jeopardizing both Israeli and U.S. interests.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the heart of the matter. The Arab governments now negotiating with Israel have repeatedly said that bilateral or multilateral agreements with Israel are contingent upon a satisfactory resolution of this central problem. Bilateral talks between Israel and Jordan, Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon will not lead to bilateral treaties in the absence of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement. Multilateral talks on regional issues such as water sharing, economic development. refugees and arms control will not lead to regional treaties on these issues in the absence of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement. Such a settlement requires an end — albeit a gradual one — to Israeli occupation. the attainment of self-determination for the Palestinian people, and effective security arrangements to safeguard both the Israeli and the Palestinian populations.
The basic formula for a peaceful resolution of this conflict is simple, fair, feasible and almost universally accepted throughout the international community. U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Camp David accords and even Ronald Reagan's September 1, 1982, fresh-start initiative all call for a "territory for peace" formula. It is widely agreed that Resolution 338 has mandatory and binding character under the U.N. Charter. Therefore 338's call for "the implementation of Security Council resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts" is mandatory and binding. It is worthy of note (especially since rarely mentioned by the media) that the introductory and governing clauses of Resolution 242 refer to the higher authority of the U.N. Charter itself in emphasizing the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war." Therefore, the absence of the definite article "the" in the resolution's call for "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" cannot support Israeli arguments that Israel need not withdraw from all of the territory occupied in the 1967 war.
The Shamir government's argument that withdrawal from the Sinai satisfied the requirements of Resolution 242 constituted a de facto rejection of the resolution and its territory-for-peace formula. This was the principal obstacle to peace during the first rounds of negotiation in 1991 and 1992. Likud's vision of limited autonomy for the inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as an interim arrangement and then later as a permanent status under Israeli sovereignty was unacceptable to the Palestinians and the Arab states negotiating with Israel. Rabin's unwillingness to withdraw to approximately the 1967 borders and his commitment to strengthen what he calls "security" settlements and settlements in "Greater Jerusalem" are also major obstacles to peace. He seems to be dedicated to the Allon Plan, by which Israel would seek eventual sovereignty over the 40 percent of the West Bank comprising a belt of territory along the Jordan River, the Judean areas around Bethlehem and Hebron and east to the Dead Sea, and the expanded version of East Jerusalem and Greater Jerusalem. The remaining 60 percent would be a "homeland" (or non-contiguous "homelands") that would be autonomous but not independent. This is also unacceptable to the Palestinians and the Arab states.
There are many other expressions of international will and international law that bear on this case. The United States has either abstained or voted in favor of numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions describing Israel's occupation and settlement policies as violations of international law, particularly of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, condemning the annexation of East Jerusalem and the settlements in the occupied territories, the deportations of Palestinians, collective punishments and the myriad violations of Palestinian human rights. As recently as January, 1992, the United States voted for Security Council Resolution 726, which stated that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It is necessary for the United States to be consistent in its demand that Security Council resolutions and other bodies of international Jaw be observed by all, including Israel. There can be no special relationship with the United States that confers the privilege of repudiating with impunity these expressions of international law.
The Arab world is "ripe" for settlement, as indicated by the remarkable procedural and substantive concessions by the PLO, the local Palestinian representatives and key Arab states. PLO recognition of Israel, acceptance of Resolutions 242 and 338, and renunciation of terrorism, as well as PLO willingness to be formally excluded from negotiations, to accept all of the restrictions placed on the composition of the Palestinian delegation, and to continue authorizing negotiations despite Israel's continued settlement building are dramatic developments. Israel's demands that the PLO, diaspora Palestinians and residents of East Jerusalem be excluded from a Palestinian team that must form a joint delegation with Jordan have been met.
The agreement by Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to meet Israel's demands for direct, bilateral negotiations with the Arab states also constitutes an impressive breakthrough because it represents de facto Arab recognition of Israel. These concessions signify that the PLO and the Palestinians of the occupied territories, who urged that the PLO make these concessions, are willing to concede a great deal for the sake of an end to the occupation and the attainment of Palestinian political rights and that the Arab states are prepared to extend de jure recognition to Israel. With respect to the issue of terrorism, it is impossible for Arafat and his organization to control renegades such as Ahmed Jibril and Abu Nidal, much less Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, but a greater effort to control insiders such as Abul Abbas, George Habash and Nayef Hawatmeh is imperative.
New Global Environment
The strategic challenges to the United States are vastly diminished after the demise of the Soviet Union. With the risk of superpower confrontation effectively eliminated, some contend that the Arab-Israeli conflict may be regarded as much less a threat to U.S. interests, and therefore much less important to the United States, than it once was. It should be noted, however, that the feared superpower confrontation never occurred during any of the major Arab-Israeli wars of the Cold War era. Furthermore, even when the potential of such a superpower confrontation did exist, the United States did not consistently and effectively push for a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Indeed, U.S. acquiescence in Israeli occupation and settlement policies, when combined with U.S. assurance of Israeli military superiority over any combination of Arab adversaries, actually prolonged the regional conflict that could have led to superpower confrontation.
Some policy makers thought mistakenly that Israeli military superiority would make Israel more amenable to territorial withdrawal in return for peace. And some policy makers thought that Israeli military strength would help the United States counter a potential Soviet military thrust into the Middle East. But in fact Israel's military superiority enabled her to retain and settle the occupied territories, thus alienating Arab states from Israel's U.S. patron, and therefore opening the door wider to Soviet military, economic and political penetration of the Arab world. While superpower confrontation was a potential threat, perhaps an exaggerated one, the actual threat was persistent Soviet penetration.
In the post-Cold-War era, there is certainly no longer any need for Israel to help counter potential Soviet aggression in the region. Moreover, Israel's participation was neither militarily necessary nor politically feasible in the U.S.-led coalition's successful campaign to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Thus Israel is concerned about the future of U.S.-Israeli security relations and has argued that these relations will need to be maintained and upgraded in order to combat Islamic "fundamentalism," even in Central Asia. However, neither the Central Asian Muslim republics nor any of the other republics of the former Soviet Union present the potential military threat to the Middle East the Soviet Union once did. Furthermore, as Assistant Secretary of State Edward P. Djerejian recently said, "[T]he United States Government does not view Islam as the next 'ism' confronting the West or threatening world peace." "The United States has good, productive relations with countries and peoples of all religions throughout the world, including many whose systems of government are firmly grounded in Islamic principles." It is not Islamic "fundamentalism" that poses a threat to U.S. interests, but rather extremist, militant movements, whether Islamic or secular.
It is important to understand that Islamic "fundamentalism" is not a monolithic movement. Movements by committed Muslim believers to reform their societies according to the principles of Islam can be constructive, can be accommodated by their governments, and can be compatible with U.S. interests. However, those Islamic movements that are extremist, militant, authoritarian and rejectionist are threatening to U.S. interests in the security of Israel and friendly Arab states. The ranks of these extremists are being swelled in part because of resentment over U.S. support for Israel, which they see as a Western colonial intervention that no secular Arab ideology has been able to contain. Thus, in the absence of Arab-Israeli peace, U.S.-Israeli strategic cooperation directed against Islamic extremists would only pour fuel on fire. Such a policy would provide extremists in the Islamic Republic of Iran with increased opportunities to support militant Islamic movements and therefore penetrate more fully the Arab world, just as the Soviet Union once did. A more intelligent approach to address these challenges would entail a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict to defuse resentment of Israel and the United States; economic assistance to overcome the poverty and desperation that feeds both Islamic and secular extremism; and a concerted effort to deny the military and dual-use equipment Iran seeks in its effort to become the dominant military power in the region.
The real strategic value of a country to the United States in the post-Cold-War era is based on that country's contribution to regional peace and stability. The United States has offered Israel a continuation of a "special relationship" by bringing so many Arab neighbors into direct negotiations with Israel and by presenting Israel with a serious opportunity to obtain peace agreements with them. These peace agreements would enhance regional cooperation, moderation and stability and therefore both Israeli and U.S. interests — strategic, economic and ideological — in the region.
The United States has a continuing interest in maintaining access to Middle Eastern oil at reasonable prices, as well as to Middle Eastern markets and investments, and in keeping open the region's strategic waterways. U.S. reliance on relatively inexpensive Arab oil has not been reduced; it has in fact increased in recent years. While the development of alternative sources of energy is rational, the United States will have a continuing interest in Arab oil for decades, even if Arab oil accounts for a reduced percentage of total oil and energy consumption in the future. European and Japanese dependence on Arab oil cannot be overcome. The unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict may not provoke another embargo and price hike as in 1973-74. However, the unresolved conflict may discredit moderates and enhance radicals, thus leading to challenges to the oil fields of the moderates by radical forces, whether secular or Islamic, whether Arab or Iranian.
The unresolved conflict also makes it more difficult for the United States to sell the military equipment needed to protect the oil fields of pro-Western Arab Gulf states against potential future threats, such as from Iran or even from a rebuilt Iraq, thus leaving the burden of intervention to the United States in an era when both defense cutbacks and arms sales would be helpful to the U.S. economy. The Gulf War demonstrated how much time and money it takes to deploy forces to the region, how entrenched an aggressor can become during these precious months, and how much death and destruction war wreaks when deterrence fails.
The United States has an opportunity to promote its expressed interests in human rights, socio-economic development, political liberalization and self-determination through the resolution of this conflict. Failure to do so will mean further misery for the Palestinians and the fanning of radicalism and instability across the Middle East. Israeli, Palestinian, international and U.S. State Department human-rights reports discuss the myriad and severe violations of Palestinian human rights under Israeli occupation. These can only be ended, and U.S. national interests advanced, by ending the occupation and permitting Palestinian aspirations for self-determination to be realized.
The end of the conflict will also weaken the arguments for authoritarian controls in neighboring Arab countries; enable governments to shift spending from military to economic development; enable regional economic development projects to get off the ground, with U.S., Saudi and international financing; arrest the influence of both Islamic and secular militant extremists; and give gradual democratic reform a better chance of emerging. With a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, democratizing regimes will be much less likely to have new leaders intransigently opposed to the West. And Israel, which has already achieved self-determination, popular government and human rights for its own people, will be safer in a region at peace than in a region always poised for war. Failure to resolve the conflict is in particular almost certain to enhance the spread of militant Islamic movements along with the influence of Iranian extremists in the Arab world. This would constitute a threat to Israel as well as to all Arab regimes and to all administrative and democratic reform, even — perhaps especially — in Saudi Arabia.
For peace to have any chance, and for their own country to flourish, the Israelis would do well to accept the almost unanimously held interpretation that Resolution 242 calls for Israeli withdrawal from virtually all of the territory captured in 1967. This is the sine qua non of Arab-Israeli peace. Neither the Balfour Declaration of 1917, nor the U.N. General Assembly partition recommendation of 1947, nor the U.N. Security Council resolution of 1967 provides or recognizes any Israeli "rights" throughout all of the territory west of the Jordan River. Furthermore, given the crippling of the Iraqi nonconventional and conventional military forces, and given appropriate ground and space-based security arrangements, the permanent retention of the Jordan River valley, the Judean desert and a vastly expanded version of East Jerusalem is not necessary for the defense of Israel. The same considerations and conclusions apply to Israel's retention of two thirds of Syria's Golan Province and the "security zone" in southern Lebanon.
Israeli unwillingness to withdraw to approximately the 1967 borders condemns the Palestinians to continuing subjugation; threatens to discredit Palestinian negotiators and to turn the PLO away from diplomacy; renders negotiations hopeless with all of the Arabs; and subjects Israelis to the continued dangers of violence and war. Ironically, the vulnerability of Israel's populous coastal plain to surface-to-surface missile attacks, which was demonstrated by Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles during the recent Gulf War, suggests that retaining the West Bank and the Golan Heights does not provide a valuable strategic advantage if it leaves the Arab-Israeli conflict unresolved. Furthermore, retaining the West Bank and the Gaza Strip does not insure the safety of Israel's citizens in the territories or inside the "green line" from terrorist operations carried out by guerrilla factions or violent crimes carried out by individuals from the territories. It in fact provokes such incidents.
The United States should make it clear that Resolution 242's emphasis on "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and its call for "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" mean that Israel should withdraw from all of the territory captured on all four fronts in 1967 except for minor border adjustments which may be acceptable to both Israelis and Arabs. Resolution 242's call for "respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area" is being violated by Israel's occupation and annexation of other countries' territories.
The United States should then persuade Syria and Israel to engage in discussions that simultaneously address issues of concern to both. Syria's demand that Israel express its commitment to withdraw from all of the occupied Golan before discussions over the nature of peace take place is quite unhelpful. Israel's demand that Syria accept Israel's definition of "full peace" before Israel will discuss explicitly the extent of its withdrawal is similarly unhelpful. These are not serious and reasonable positions, and Israel and Syria must be told so. Instead, Syria could indicate that if Israel were willing to withdraw from all of the Golan, then Syria would be willing to sign a peace treaty with Israel that involves commercial and diplomatic relations. Israel could indicate that if Syria were willing to sign such a peace treaty, then Israel would be willing to withdraw from all of the Golan. Beginning with conditional propositions such as these would make meaningful negotiation possible. But no significant progress on the Israeli-Syrian front is likely without a breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian front.
U.S. leadership and energy have been instrumental in bringing the parties to the table. However, the main achievement of this effort has been to persuade the Palestinians and the Arab states to accept virtually all of Israel's procedural and substantive preconditions. During the peace process itself, an attempt by the Bush administration to adhere to longstanding official U.S. policy on Israel's settlements led to severe strains in its relationship with the Likud-led government — and with many important American Jewish organizations and individuals — before contributing to the election of a Labor-led government and bringing about some curbs on Israeli settlement activity.
Labor, however, is committed to "security" settlements and to completing housing already under construction, much of it in "political" settlements. The completion of over 8,000 housing units in the West Bank and another 1,200 in the Gaza Strip will increase the Jewish population in these occupied territories by 50,000, or 50 percent. Israel will also complete up to 13,000 units in East Jerusalem and 1,200 in the Golan, territories that Israel has annexed in contravention of international law. Israel's intention to continue this settlement activity and to defer negotiation over the issue until final-status talks are held in three years will further alter the geographic, demographic and infrastructural character of the territories.
The Bush administration erred when it agreed to support loan guarantees to the newly-elected Labor government despite its settlement policy, for the following reasons:
1) The Labor government will be allowed to complete a larger number of already started housing units (as noted above) than Likud would have been allowed to complete.
2) The Labor government will be allowed to engage in new building to accommodate the "natural growth" in existing settlements.
3) New building activity will go forward in expanded and annexed East Jerusalemand in settlements such as Maale Adumin, Givat Ze'ev and the Etzion Bloc outside of the annexed city but nevertheless considered Greater Jerusalem by the Israelis. There are currently plans for 10,000 new housing units in these areas.
4) New building to strengthen, thicken and expand "security" settlements along the Jordan River valley and in the Golan will go forward.
5) While the loan guarantees are designated for use only within Israel's 1967 borders. the fungibility of money means that these guarantees will free up other Israeli funds for building in the occupied territories, thus constituting an indirect subsidy of this work. Furthermore, the "understandings" reached between Bush and Rabin about Israeli settlement activity are ambiguous and suggest that there may be little or no deduction from the loan guarantees for the completion of current construction or for new construction, particularly new construction in Greater Jerusalem.
6) There might not be any official U.S. monitoring of the use of these funds and of non-compliance with the "terms and conditions" for their use. Indeed, Israel is apparently not required to report to the United States on the allocation of these funds.
It has not been helpful for the United States to tilt toward Israel's proposals on an interim self-governing body and to dismiss the Palestinians' proposals. Israel's proposals seek to legitimize Israel as the ultimate source of authority in the occupied territories in an effort to bolster Israel's eventual claim to sovereignty over all or part of the occupied territories. It has not been helpful for the United States to encourage the Palestinians to take whatever limited administrative functions the Israelis are willing to give them and sell this arrangement to their people. After all, the United States has not brought about a real freeze of Israeli settlements, and the Israeli proposals would leave control over most Palestinian land and water in Israeli hands so that further confiscation of Palestinian land and water and further Israeli settlement building would be possible. It is an abdication of responsibility for the United States to ask the Palestinians to "accept the asymmetry of power," particularly when the United States has been so instrumental in creating that asymmetry.
Furthermore, the autonomy proposals put on the table by both the Shamir and Rabin governments fall short of the Camp David accords. Israel has backtracked from its Camp David commitment to the withdrawal and redeployment of its armed forces in the West Bank, actually giving its armed forces and settlers freer rein there. Israel has also backtracked from its Camp David commitment to the withdrawal of the Israeli military government and civil administration and their replacement by a Palestinian interim self-governing authority. The United States should hold Israel to its Camp David commitments — commitments that were made not just to Egypt but to the United States as well. The United States should also encourage the Palestinians to modify their proposals, which are too close to a final-status agreement to be acceptable to Israel as an interim agreement. First and foremost, the United States should propose that the negotiated agreement itself be the ultimate source of authority, rather than Israel, or the interim self-governing body, or the Palestinian people.
Challenges and Recommendations
The first challenge for the next administration will be to prevent any new explosion of Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories. This task will be difficult because of the private understandings reached between Bush and Rabin. It may also be complicated by the campaign position President-elect Clinton took opposing any link between the loan guarantees and settlement building. At the very least, however, the new administration should try to prevent Israel from exploiting any loophole in the oral understandings it has reached with the Bush administration. For example, the new administration should watch closely the amount of Israeli building done in the name of "natural growth," because this could be a prolific amount of building.
The second challenge for the Clinton administration is to hold Israel to internationally recognized standards of human rights in the territories. Customary international law, the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and numerous Security Council resolutions prohibit or deplore the firing of live ammunition by soldiers and settlers at unarmed civilians, the killings carried out by Israeli undercover squads, the torture in Israeli prisons, the curfews on Palestinian population centers, the demolition and sealing of homes, the closing of Palestinian educational institutions, the imposition of onerous taxes without representation, the confiscation of land and uprooting of crops and orchards, and the deportation of individuals. Such measures are still being carried out by the Rabin government. U.S. support for international monitors to ensure compliance with these conventions, resolutions and laws would be a reasonable first step. And clearly, an end to Israeli confiscation of land and water and to settlement activity would result in diminished Palestinian resistance and thus would remove an excuse for repression.
The third and most important challenge for the Clinton administration will be to elicit far-reaching, substantive concessions from Israel that will culminate in Israeli withdrawal from virtually all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and restore the 1967 borders with only minor modifications. Indeed, the United States must motivate Israel to transfer authority over land, water and economic activity to the native Palestinian population during an interim arrangement. For example, while Israel has systematically confiscated as much as 65 percent of the land of the West Bank and 30 percent of the land of the Gaza Strip over the last 25 years, most of this land is not being used by Israeli settlements and should quickly be returned to the Palestinian self-governing authority. Private land could then be reallocated to and registered by its rightful owners while public land could be administered by the self-governing authority.
Moreover, while Israel will need a share of the water from the aquifers under the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and while it may therefore be appropriate for Israel to sit on a joint committee to allocate this water, the Palestinians must be in a position to see to it that Israel no longer accounts for 83 percent of the consumption of the West Bank's water while restricting the Palestinians to only 17 percent. Furthermore, Israeli restrictions that prevent Palestinian agriculture and industry from being competitive must be lifted.
The United States should also motivate Israel to honor its Camp David commitments on the withdrawal of its armed forces, particularly from heavily populated Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and to enable a Palestinian police force to take responsibility for law and order. In more general terms, the United States should motivate Israel to transfer authority in such a way that the interim self-government does not simply administer policy but formulates policy, creates legislation and levies taxes and tariffs. Thus, both a legislative and an executive branch would be necessary.
An acceptable final-status agreement must at the very least not give Israel sovereignty over the territories or leave Israel in occupation of them. Ideas regarding a federation or confederation of a Palestinian entity with Israel do not hold much promise. An independent Palestine would be very unlikely to choose confederation with Israel. Federation of a Palestinian entity with Israel would be a stratagem for denying independence to the Palestinians, enabling Israel to control defense and foreign affairs and to deny the Palestinians Israeli citizenship. However, the idea of including Israel in a free-trade zone with a Palestinian entity and Jordan has merit.
Ideas regarding the federation or confederation of a Palestinian entity with Jordan should continue to be explored, and this would naturally entail varying degrees of integration of Palestinian and Jordanian financial and economic institutions. A Palestinian-Jordanian federation or confederation could be a way of overcoming Israel's objection to a fully independent Palestinian state and could provide the Palestinian entity with some strategic depth. Whether a Palestinian entity is a fully independent state, or a semi-independent state confederated with Jordan, or an autonomous entity federated with Jordan, it should be demilitarized for a specified number of years after the establishment of its final status. The eventual creation of a Palestinian armed defense force, after an era of demilitarization, should not be ruled out.
There is no pressing reason to preclude an independent Palestine that is not confederated with Jordan. The leaders of the Palestinian entity will have powerful incentives to control irredentism and violence against Israelis. A peace treaty between Israel and Palestine should achieve the full peace and normalization of relations that should characterize peace treaties between Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon, and Israel and Jordan. Such a treaty with Jordan is required whether Jordan is completely separate from Palestine, confederated with Palestine, or federated with Palestine.
There is reason for the United States to reconsider its opposition since 1967 to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Currently the United States recognizes that (1) the Palestinians are a "people," and that (2) they have legitimate political rights. If these rights do not include political self determination, it is difficult to comprehend what their nature and significance is. Therefore, Clinton administration policy should not preclude a future Palestinian state. In this regard, it is pertinent to recall that, when the United States voted at the United Nations in 1947 in favor of the establishment of the state of Israel, it also voted in favor of the establishment of an adjacent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.
Israeli settlements and the land they have been built on should revert to the Palestinian entity in a final-status agreement. Those Israelis who choose to stay could be permitted to do so. Many Israelis would choose to leave, thus freeing up housing for diaspora Palestinians who choose to return to the Palestinian entity. Departing Jewish settlers should be compensated for their investment.
Jerusalem cannot possibly be "united" under exclusive Israeli control. While it is often said that the issue of Jerusalem is so complex that it must be left to the end, it is really a rather simple problem that the United States has been unwilling to face because of Israeli refusal to negotiate. Moreover, Israel refuses to bargain over a "Jerusalem" whose municipal borders it has greatly expanded since 1967. The solution to this problem is to restore the 1967 borders for purposes of political sovereignty of Israel and the new Palestinian entity. However, neither Israel nor the Palestinians should hold sovereignty over the old walled city, which contains the holy sites of the three great monotheistic religions. It should be an international city open to all under a U.N. trusteeship. Both entities would thus claim the city as their capital. The Jewish settlements that have been built in East Jerusalem outside the walls would be treated like all other settlements in the occupied territories.
A referendum on the interim agreement could be held and an election forthe interim self-government should follow. A referendum on the final-status agreement and an election for the government of the final Palestinian entity should also be held. Palestinians from East Jerusalem should be eligible to vote and hold office at all stages. International monitoring of these referenda and elections will be necessary.
The Golan and Southern Lebanon
The fourth challenge for the Clinton administration involves the Golan and southern Lebanon. It will be necessary to bring about the end of Israeli settlement building in the Golan; the revocation of Israel's annexation of the Golan; Israeli withdrawal from the Golan and southern Lebanon; the demilitarization of these areas; the bolstering of multilateral forces in the Golan and the strengthening of U.N. forces in southern Lebanon with American and other major-power personnel; and the disbanding and disarming of militias in southern Lebanon.
Israel's definition of "full peace" should be implemented by the respective peace treaties. In addition, arrangements for regional water sharing and arms control should be written into the peace treaties.
Incentives and Pressures
The United States should continue to be prepared to use both incentives and pressures in order to achieve its objectives. In particular, specific incentives should be offered to Israel but made strictly contingent upon Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories. These incentives could include American participation in multilateral forces (that might also involve Israeli personnel) in the manning of anti-aircraft and anti-missile defenses set up on strategic terrain in the otherwise demilitarized West Bank, Golan and southern Lebanon. These incentives could also include American participation in multilateral forces (that might also involve Israeli and Arab personnel) in the international monitoring of buffer zones along Israel's borders with Syria and Lebanon and perhaps also along the periphery of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to prevent infiltration by terrorists.
U.S. military aid, arms transfers and technology cooperation should also continue to be provided to Israel at levels sufficient to honor the longstanding American commitment to Israel's security. For example, the United States should share reconnaissance satellite intelligence with Israel in order to boost Israel's early-warning capacity.
Furthermore, the United States should take the initiative in arranging for U. S., European, Japanese, and Saudi and GCC financing of an international aid package to promote economic development in Israel. The United States should be willing to provide annual loan guarantees for the housing and employment within Israel's 1967 borders of Jewish emigres from the former Soviet Union. Germany and other sources of loan guarantees should be encouraged to do the same. The United States should also take the lead in developing international, including Arab, markets for Israeli exports and promoting Arab oil sales as well as sales of agricultural and industrial goods and services to Israel. Israel should attract considerable private investment after signing peace agreements with her Arab neighbors.
Although similar offers to the Arabs have not been necessary in eliciting political concessions from them, they will be necessary to provide for the security and prosperity of the Palestinians, Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese after political agreements are reached. American participation in an international force monitoring the periphery of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be designed to safeguard Palestinians from rejectionist Israelis as much as to safeguard Israelis from rejectionist Palestinians. Similarly, American participation in an international force monitoring the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese borders would provide safeguards to Syria and Lebanon as well as to Israel. The United States should share reconnaissance satellite intelligence with Israel's Arab neighbors and pro-American Gulf states to boost their early-warning capabilities as well as Israel's.
The United States should orchestrate an international aid package that allocates funds for Palestinian economic development; loan guarantees that provide housing and employment for Palestinian refugees returning to the new Palestinian entity; the opening up of international, including Israeli, markets for Palestinian exports; and the flow of private investment to the Palestinian economy. The United States should put together international economic assistance for Jordan, Syria and Lebanon as well.
Linkages and Sequencing
The United States must establish some linkage between the transitional agreements and reasonable final-status agreements, particularly because the Arabs will otherwise worry that the U.S. administration will not follow through, leaving Israel free to stonewall on final-status talks regarding the Palestinians. First, the United States can arrange for staggered disbursements to Israel from an international financial-aid fund during the life of an interim Israeli-Palestinian agreement, with the bulk of the disbursement to come when an acceptable final-status agreement is reached and implemented. Second, while the Arab states can give Israel an end to the economic and diplomatic boycotts and an end to belligerency during the life of the interim agreement, they can exchange ambassadors, encourage tourism and introduce free trade only when Palestinian self-determination is implemented according to agreements reached in the final-status talks.
Peace treaties with Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia should be consummated when the Israeli-Palestinian final-status agreement is implemented and when arrangements along the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese borders are fulfilled. This will give Israel an incentive to implement the Israeli-Palestinian agreement, offer the Arab parties a safety valve if Israel refuses to implement the agreement, and provide Israel with a disincentive to violate the agreement. It will overcome the problems inherent in the Camp David formula, when Israel's refusal to link the two accords meant that no progress on Palestinian autonomy talks was necessary for the consummation of peace with Egypt.
The United States must be prepared not only to withhold planned disbursements of loan guarantees to Israel but also to reduce or suspend its regular military and economic assistance and to impose trade sanctions if Israel violates international law, rejects U.N. Security Council resolutions, and in so doing undermines U.S. national interests in the region despite Arab concessions and U.S. incentives. That such a strategy might be necessary and appropriate was explicitly recognized by Israeli peace activists when Likud ruled. "For Israel to change its policy it must be coerced.... It is our duty to call upon the U.S. to stop giving money to Israel...," said former General Mattityahu Peled, who was on the Israeli Army General Staff during the 1967 war. This strategy might still be necessary while Labor rules. Indeed, although Israel has rejected any meaningful role by the United Nations in the ArabIsraeli peace talks, preferring that the United States shoulder the primary responsibility, the U.S. administration can still tum to the United Nations for an authoritative interpretation of Resolution 242 as well as for support in the form of sanctions or incentives.
Clearly, U.S. hopes that a militarily superior Israel would be an Israel confident enough to make concessions have been consistently disappointed. Nevertheless, the United States should make explicit statements about the security guarantees and defense relations and the economic aid package to be offered to Israel in return for its withdrawal from the occupied territories so that the Israeli public knows what it can have and what it may lose. Similarly, the United States should make explicit statements about the suspension or reduction of regular aid to Israel that would be imposed should Israel refuse to withdraw from the territories so that the Israeli public knows the additional costs of territorial expansion. Ideally, reductions should be incremental enough not to jeopardize Israel, and they should be carefully explained until U.S. intent and credibility are understood.
Efforts to promote "confidence-building" measures have had, and can have, only limited success. The intifada cannot be commanded to cease during negotiations. The desperation and fury of members of the Palestinian population of the occupied territories cannot be eased so long as Israel's settlement and other occupation policies are allowed to go forward. The Palestinian leaders in the occupied territories have no governmental machinery at their disposal for apprehending and punishing perpetrators of violence. Their condemnation of Palestinian violence against Israelis as well as intra-Palestinian violence is helpful but cannot end these killings. Yasser Arafat and Fatah and moderate affiliates of the PLO can no more prevent every act of violence against Israelis or other Palestinians than the governor of Ohio and his political party can prevent every possible criminal act within his state's borders. However, Arafat's best efforts to punish groups that commit terror is necessary.
Ending the Arabs' diplomatic boycott and offering to end their economic boycott have not swayed Israel from a course of action that makes violence inevitable and that jeopardizes prospects for meaningful compromise and enduring peace. Jordanian, Saudi and other GCC leaders should publicize the fact that they have offered to end the economic boycott in exchange for an end to settlements and that governments led by both Likud and Labor have rejected their offer. Even months after the fact, and despite news reports, scholarly articles and even congressional testimony by Secretary of State James Baker, some of Israel's supporters on key congressional subcommittees during the spring 1992 hearings on the loan guarantees still expressed disbelief that any Arabs had ever made such an offer.
Arab leaders should also be more public and explicit in extending recognition and offering peace treaties to Israel. Engaging in direct bilateral negotiations is perhaps too subtle a concession to be easily and widely understood by the American or even Israeli publics. Jordan's King Hussein has already called publicly for a peace treaty. Even Syria's President Assad has called publicly for peace, although a more explicit statement about a peace treaty and about the nature of peace would be helpful. Unequivocal statements of readiness for peace treaties with Israel will have an important impact on the Israeli public and government. Statements made available to the Israeli press would guarantee that the Israeli public would see them and would minimize the ability of the right-wing opposition to interpret the statements as meaningless.
Unequivocal statements would also have an impact on Israel's supporters in the United States, particularly on Jewish Americans. Although such statements would cause unease in the Arab street, as long as Arab leaders specify exactly what Israel must concede for peace agreements, Arab public opinion will evolve. Indeed, the strategic and political significance implicit in the act of direct bilateral negotiations has certainly not been lost on the Arab populace. Concerns that Arab leaders would be overthrown for such statements are exaggerated. Naturally, it would be considerably easier for Arab leaders to make such a confidence-building gesture if they could also tell their people that Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories had been frozen and repressive measures there had been eased.
The Rabin government has made some decisions characterized as confidence-building gestures. It has suspended plans to build 13 new settlements as well as 9,700 new housing units. It has stopped overt and covert government funding of the purchase of property for Jewish settlers in Arab quarters of East Jerusalem such as the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. It has made financial inducements for purchasing homes in some settlements less generous than in the past. It has stopped new land leases and permits for privately financed construction in settlements. These decisions were instrumental in securing loan guarantees, but they will be less significant in building confidence.
The Rabin government announced its intention to end the ban on meetings of Israelis and Palestinians in the territories from meeting with the PLO and is moving gradually to do so. It released perhaps 800 Palestinian prisoners who had served at least two-thirds of their sentences, although many thousands of Palestinians held without charge continued to be detained and additional numbers have been detained without charge since then. It cancelled deportation orders against 11 Palestinians accused of inciting violence, although it insisted that deportation would remain an option for dealing with violence in the territories and did indeed deport almost 400 Palestinians accused of inciting violence in December.
The U.S. president and his secretary of state need a firm command of history and law regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict and a clear. principled vision for the future of the Middle East. They will have to select their advisers with care so that they are not captive to any special interest. They will need to convince the Congress that the policy outlined above is necessary for U.S. interests, as well as the interests of Arabs and Israelis. In this effort, they can count on the support of the American people if they present the case clearly to them. Ultimately, the president himself must remain actively involved in the peace process in order to communicate to all parties that his administration is serious about achieving a just and lasting resolution of this conflict.
1 I wish to thank Seth Tillman, Robert Neumann, Antony Sullivan, Peter Gubser, John Duke Anthony and John Voll for their comments on early drafts. Their willingness to devote time to this report does not imply agreement with all of its arguments. By the same token, the endorsement of the Board of Directors of the Middle East Policy Council does not imply the agreement of every member with every point in the report. I am also grateful to George McGovern, Richard Wilson, Wilma LaMee and especially Anne Joyce for their support and advice.