Reaching Permanent Status based on achieving a single comprehensive Permanent Status Agreement (PSA) is liable to raise significant problems. Israel should thus consider fragmenting and diluting the Historic Issues.
Following the Annapolis meeting (11/27/07), Israel and the Palestinians are expected to launch negotiations towards a Permanent Status Agreement.
Against this backdrop, the aim of this document is to 1) challenge a number of Israeli working assumptions underlying this process, 2) raise questions about potential obstacles to reaching Permanent Status through a comprehensive agreement, and 3) present an alternative to the frameworks proposed by the Oslo Process and the Roadmap.
A wide gap exists between the positions of the parties regarding the Historic Issues, Permanent Status, and the framework of negotiations. Furthermore, serious doubts exist regarding Abu Mazen's legitimacy and capacity to conclude, ratify and implement an agreement. Nonetheless, Israel is engaging in the Annapolis process in order to exploit an apparent window of opportunity to break the political deadlock.
In this context, two frameworks for reaching Permanent Status have been introduced for the Israeli-Palestinian political process:
The ‘Package Approach
' of the Oslo Process, which calls for a Permanent Status Agreement prior to
a Palestinian State; and
The ‘Palestinian State First' approach of the 2nd Phase of the Roadmap
, which calls for a Permanent Status Agreement after
the creation of a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders (PSPB).
The principal weakness of the ‘Package Approach' is that it leads Israel into an "all-or-nothing" dynamic. In other words, without agreement on all issues, there can be no agreement on any issue.
The ‘Palestinian State First' model also calls for comprehensive negotiations to resolve the Historic Issues, but detaches the creation of a Palestinian State from resolution of all Historic Issues.
The Reut Institute contends that the establishment of a PSPB will enhance Israel's strategic flexibility. If a comprehensive agreement is unreachable, Israel can pursue the ‘Fragmentation and Dilution Approach' by:
Fragmenting the comprehensive PSA with the PLO into a set of bilateral agreements with the Palestinian State concluded individually over time; and
Diluting the Historic Issues through unilateral moves, 3rd-party-coordinated steps and state-to-state negotiations.
Whether or not a PSPB can be agreed upon in the current political context - Israel can still prepare the groundwork for a Palestinian State today by 1) transferring attributes of statehood to the PA; and 2) supporting 3rd party-led Palestinian state-building.
Israel can do so within the framework of current negotiations. This may 1) enhance PA prospects for 'survival' in the case that negotiations fail, 2) facilitate establishment of a PSPB through negotiations and 3) create the option of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State.
For full document, click here.