Jerome Segal - Policy Agenda for Israel-Palestine and Iran
I. Israel, Palestine and Iran.
1. Upon re-iteration by the Palestinians that the State of Palestine seeking admission to the United Nations is the state proclaimed in their 1988 Declaration of Independence which acknowledged the international legitimacy of the division of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish – the US should support immediate admission of the state of Palestine to the United Nations.
2. Upon such admission, and recognition of Palestine by the United States, the US should announce its recognition of East Jerusalem as the locus of the capital of Palestine, and we should designate a site in East Jerusalem for the establishment of the United States Embassy to Palestine.
President Trump boasted that he had taken Jerusalem off the agenda and thus made successful negotiations more likely. In fact, he removed the United States from any negotiations whatsoever, and other than returning the US Embassy to Tel Aviv, the only way forward to a Peace of Jerusalem is to balance the Embassy to Israel in West Jerusalem with an Embassy to Palestine in East Jerusalem.
3. The US must make a clear statement of commitment to the two-state solution, and to a final end to settlement expansion, with a US aid cut off in the event of annexation of the west bank specified in advance as a deterrent.
4. Enact legislation prohibiting US foreign aid to any country that refuses admission to members of Congress because of their political views.
5. Reshaping US aid to Israel to promote the two-state solution, with a focus on financial assistance to settlers to return to Israel. (see "new approach to U.S. aid" below).
6. Make full use of the United Nations to reach an end to the conflict, with the re-establishment of UN Commission, UNSCOP, which provided the plan for the partition of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. UNSCOP-2 should be tasked with crafting an end-of-conflict treaty, consistent with the Arab Peace Initiative. It should be developed to maximize support from both peoples, not to split the difference between the PLO and the current Israeli government. Subsequently Israel and the PLO should be asked to negotiate for six months, making any improvements that can be agreed upon. Then it should be put to referenda, starting with the Palestinians.
7. Engaging with Iran in pursuit of its support for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; seeking from Iran a commitment to a reset in its relationship with Israel upon the achievement of Israel-Palestinian peace provided such agreement is approved in a Palestinian referendum.
On this last point, I should note that not long ago, I met at length with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss such possibilities, and I came away from that meeting and subsequent contact with Iranian officials believing that this is a realistic possibility.
II. A New Approach to Financial Aid to Israel:
- Shift back to economic aid with qualifications.
- Military purchases from US defense contractors should be paid for at cost. US supports Israel's national security and the need for a military edge over other states in the region. However, given economic aid to Israel and the fact that Israel is a wealthy society, military transfer should be paid for at cost.
- Economic Aid can be set at current level of military aid, roughly $3 billion a year. However:
Sequester: The amount that Israel spends on any expansion of West Bank settlements and the amount of subsidies that it provides to existing settlements, shall be placed in a special fund that will only be available to Israel when it enacts a permanent comprehensive freeze on settlement expansion and eliminates all subsidies, or until such time as a comprehensive peace agreement is reached with the Palestinians.
Funding to settlers who presently wish to return to Israel and need financial assistance. Up to $1 billion will be available for such purposes.
Remainder of Assistance: The remaining assistance will be targeted on projects that either promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians or strengthen Israel as a democracy. This would include:
a) Pairing young Israelis at every grade level with their Palestinian counterparts. Special funding will be provided to Palestinian schools to facilitate their participation. Where possible this will go directly to such schools, rather than through the Palestinian Authority.
b) Grassroots cooperative activities on every level, from the arts and dance to science and the environment, that bring Israelis and Palestinans together around common values and serve to humanize the Other.
c) Media projects that will bring Palestinian and Israeli people, old and young, left and right, into public dialogue to educate and challenge each other over the key element of each people's dominant narrative,
d) Joint business ventures that involve joint start-ups, linking together bright people on both sides.
e) Funding for immediate humanitarian assistance that would allow the elderly remaining refugees from the 1948 war, to, should they wish, to live out their remaining days within Israel, near their original villages. Estimated that not more that 3,000 would chose to do so.