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Washington — Yet another challenge has been mounted by a group of former senior Israeli officers and diplomats whose organization, Blue White Future, advocates “constructive unilateralism” as a temporary substitute for the peace process. The group’s central proposal is a series of measured Israeli steps to ease the pressure on Palestinians in the West Bank and help settlers voluntarily relocate to Israel proper. The suggested steps include a temporary border to be set by Israel that will allow the establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional boundaries, pending ultimate resolution of the border question in final-status talks.
All of Blue White Future’s proposals include at least a temporary bypass of the negotiation track and do not require talks between the sides, which so far have yielded no results.
“Frustration is not a work plan,” said Ami Ayalon, one of the group’s founders, in a telephone interview. Ayalon, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet, the country’s domestic security service, and ex-commander in chief of Israel’s navy, said that Washington, Jerusalem and the Palestinians are “locked in an unrealistic paradigm,” referring to the current peace process. He is scheduled to present his ideas in Washington on May 17.
But so far, the Obama administration shows no signs of giving up on the peace process paradigm. “The U.S. still believes this issue has a lot of resonance in the Arab world,” said David Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He argued that the lack of movement on the peace process should be seen as an election-related hiatus that could end in 2013.
“This is more of an intermission than the end of the play,” Makovsky said.
Danin said that even in its current state, the peace process has its advantages: “It could have been much worse, and one of the reasons it’s not much worse is that there is maintenance, that we are doing damage limitation.”
For all their heterodoxy, most of these new approaches still focus on ultimately achieving a two-state solution. But in Republican circles, some are now advocating one state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, a prominent congressional leader of the conservative Tea Party movement, recently called for abandoning what he referred to as a “myth” of two states. Instead he suggested one state, which will be under Israeli sovereignty. Walsh blamed the Palestinians for the failure to obtain two states after almost 20 years of diplomacy.
The Palestinians “will trade their two corrupt and inept governments and societies [in the West Bank and Gaza] for a stable, free and prosperous one,” he said. The Republican National Committee and the Republican dominated Florida state House of Representatives have approved nonbinding resolutions supporting this goal, as well.
Ahmed Qureia, a senior official of the Palestinian Authority who has long been deeply involved in the Oslo process, has also recently spoken out in favor of moving toward a one-state solution — albeit not a Jewish one. Given the lack of results via the peace process, he said in an interview with the British paper the Guardian in April , Palestinians should consider a one-state solution “despite the endless problems it embraces.”
“A one-state solution is not a solution, and neither is dissolving the Palestinian Authority,” Danin responded. “There are no shortcuts.”
Contact Nathan Guttman at firstname.lastname@example.org