Problems and Prospects of a Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
There have been numerous attempts by the international communities led by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union to develop a lasting solution to the unending conflicts between Israel and Palestine. These attempts started with the Oslo Accord of 1993 which led to the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization under the leadership of Yasir Arafat as the representative of Palestinian in the negotiations. This accord’s major breakthrough was the establishment of an interim Palestine government in the Gaza strip. However, this was not close to an amicable solution to the conflicts. Other attempts to establish a lasting solution to the conflicts included the Camp David Summit held in mid 2000, the Clinton Parameter in December 2000, the Taba Talks in early 2001 and the Saudi Peace Initiative held in 2002 led by Prince Abdullah, the leader of Saudi Arabia. However, all these attempts through with varying magnitude of success did not establish a lasting solution to the conflicts.
Since the establishment of a Jews state, Israel in the Middle East after the Second World War, the region has gone through a very interesting journey. Since the beginning of the 21st century and following the events of the 9/11 attack on the United States and the Bush administration response, it is clear that the Middle East will be completely transformed in the next few years. However, the big question has always been how the transition period will be. The international society has been worried of whether the transition in the Middle East will be smooth or may result into a global conflict between the Arab worlds against the rest of the world. The solution to the Palestine question and the effects of the introduction of democracy in the Arab world by the western powers has always been a contentious issue (Erakat, pg 1).
In mid 2002, President Bush and his administration declared the United States commitment to the establishment of peace between Israel and Palestine. Bush become the first president of the United States to declare that he was committed to the establishment of an independent Palestine authority next to Israel which was thought to be the final solution to the conflicts and consequently peace in middle east. This led to the development of the road map by the quartet, the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia, which was to be implemented in three phases. This road map provides the projected transition plan towards the end of the conflict between Palestine and Israel (Erakat, pg 3).
The quartet road map was proposed as a plan that will enable a peaceful and successful transition in the Middle East and solving the question of Palestine. The roadmap was believed to reinvent the wheel that would result into lasting peace in the region because it had all the essentials that missed in all other previous peace plans that had been developed since the early 1990s. The plan was believed to have all the potential of ending the conflict peacefully by creating an independent Palestine state next to Israel. The plan also provided a date on which the ending of the conflicts would be achieved which was to be 2005. Moreover, the monitors from both conflicting parties were provided for to ensure that the obligations of each party as stipulated in the road map were fulfilled (MidEast Web, pg 1).
It is important to note that the success of the road map was dependent on the commitment of Israel and Palestine rather than negotiations since it was decision oriented. For the road map to be successful, the Palestine authorities were expected to be committed to the preparation of a draft constitution, an election commission free from manipulation and reforms in the major arms of the government which includes the judicial systems, security agencies and financial domains. On the other hand, the Israelis were expected to be committed to ceasing all settlements in the land under disputes including those resulting from increase in population, disband all settlement that were established after 2001, progressively release the Palestinian captives and open the Palestine offices that had been closed in Jerusalem (MidEast Web, pg 1).
For the establishment of a two states solution, the road map was to be implemented in three phases. In the first phase, the first step was the establishment of a formal Palestinian institution with an office of the prime minister in order to end the incitements of the Palestinians against the Israelis. This was the first solution to a ceasefire in the region to allow the implementation of the roadmap. This end of armed and terrorist activity was to be followed by the drafting of a new constitution and plans to have democratic elections. The security obligations of Palestine was therefore to ensure that the incitement to violence ceased, the security agencies were in Palestine were established and confronting and dismantling all terrorist insurgencies in the Palestine. On the other hand, Israel was expected to be committed to the establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine in the region. It was the obligation of the Israel authority to end the incitement against the Palestine to give room for the implementation of the road map. They were expected to support the unconditional end of violence between the two communities. The first phase of the road map was therefore to end violence unconditionally, normalize life and establish formal government institutions in Palestine (MidEast Web, pg 1).
The second phase was expected to focus on the creation of a sovereign Palestine state with defined boundaries and acting independently. This new state was to be established based on the new constitution developed in the first phase. This was through the support from the international community especially the quartet to ensure that the established state was viable and based on basic democracy principles. However, the implementation of the second phase was to be based on the judgment of the international community on the progress of the road map. The fundamental goals of the phase were therefore the cooperation between the Palestine and Israel authorities in promoting security and establishment of normal life in Palestine. The second phase was therefore a transition period.
The third phase was designed to be a progressive stage of implementation of the road map which was expected to establish a permanent agreement that would lead to an end of conflicts by 2005. The implementation of the phase would subject to approval by the quartet after a consensus judgment on the progress. The judgment would be based on the position of the two parties involved in the conflicts and the monitoring by the international community. The main goals of the third phase was therefore to consolidate all the reforms that had taken place in the first and second phase and ensure the formal institution in the newly founded states of Palestine was stable. The phase would also ensure that the state apparatus in Palestine and the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinian leaders was sustainable to make the agreement permanent by the year 2005 (MidEast Web, pg 1).
In all the phase of implementation of the road map, the international community including the Arab world had some obligations. In the first phase, the international society was expected to monitor the progress of both parties, stop funding of violent and terrorist activities, gauge the humanitarian situation and give necessary support, provide funding for the road map initiatives and provide the necessary mechanisms and support for the transition from the first to the second phase. The international community was also obliged to support the creation of a viable state, provide judgment on the road map progress, ensure the elections in Palestine were democratic, recognize the new state and promote the two states economically and socially in the second phase. In the final phase, the international society was expected to provide full support for the final agreement which included the recognition of the two states and supporting the sustainability of Palestine government and economy. The quartet was expected to meet on regular occasion to access the progress of the road map and gauge the performance of the plan. As stated earlier, the road map was not negotiation oriented but rather based on the commitment of the three parties to perform as expected (MidEast Web, pg 1).
Erakat, Sa’eb, Road Map To Where? (2003) retrieved on 4th June 2010 from:
MidEast Web, Quartet Roadmap to Israeli-Palestinian Peace April 30, 2003, retrieved on 4th June 2010 from: http://www.mideastweb.org/quartetrm3.htm.