Tuesday, 11 March 2014 16:46

Realising Peace and Security in the Middle East: The prospects and potential of a regional envelope to comprehensive peace

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In the framework of IMESClub-CDCD partnership we publish the new paper: "Realising Peace and Security in the Middle East: The prospects and potential of a regional envelope to comprehensive peace". 

Executive Summary:


                                                                                        By Apo Sahagian


As one of the longest running conflicts in modern history, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has attracted much attention from the international community due to its importance for regional and global stability and prosperity. Indeed countless initiatives were undertaken over the decades to bring the conflict to a conclusion, however one after the other the initiatives faced various obstacles that made their implementation rather difficult. As recent as June 2013, yet another initiative was rekindled by the Obama Administration under the supervision of US Secretary of State John Kerry. However the Kerry Initiative included within its framework a valuable feature that holds potential compared to many other initiatives conducted within the past decade: that was the regional envelope that appreciated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the broader picture of the whole Middle East region and its subsequent integration within the negotiations aimed at establishing not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but also peace and security for the region.

The Kerry Initiative is significantly based on the Arab Peace Initiative (API), which was presented by the Arab League promising normal relations with Israel if the latter withdrew from the Arab territories occupied during the 1967 Six Day War, and if it came to a solution- concerning the Palestinian refugees agreed- with the Palestinian leadership. All the 57 Arab League member states and Islamic states represented in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) endorsed the API though Israel until present day has refrained from giving an official response to the incredible offer represented by the API-gesture of the Arab world.

However, the Kerry Initiative adopted the concept of the regional envelope as a reminder of the 1991 Madrid talks which were likewise operated in multi-lateral fashion involving Israel and its neighboring countries. These regional talks testified to the fact that due to the countries’ intertwined links in geography, economy, and future, it was better to approach the search for a solution in a collective manner in which each country’s needs would serve the region’s interest. More than a decade later, the Kerry Initiative resuscitated the notion of a regional envelope based on the API. The negotiations occurring as of January 2014 involve the participation of the Arab League and the API Follow-Up Committee that include Arab countries such as Egypt, Qatar, and Jordan which has asserted its own security and prosperity within the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The involvement of the region’s players has given more impetus to the current negotiations’ ultimate goal.

These policy papers, prepared by the Center for Democracy & Community Development (CDCD), are an in-depth study of the role, contribution, and aptitude offered by the regional envelope. From its base in Jerusalem, the CDCD has for the past 7 years- since 2007- actively promoted the chance extended by the API and its acceptance by not only the political echelons of the region, but also by the societies that will engage each other under circumstances of mutual recognition, understanding, and advantage. In its capacity, the CDCD build a far-reaching network spanning the globe that has within its ranks academics, politicians, former politicians, civil societies, and business men from not only Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds, but also from every country in the Middle East and even from the core of Europe and the West. And certainly the expanding of the API network continues day by day with constant communication with local, regional, and global civil societies, politicians, and also diplomatic missions that have invested their energies into resolving the conflict.

Solidifying its status as the prime address for the API in the civil society arena, the CDCD is proud to expound comprehensive research relating to the regional envelope and the API. Each article within this booklet formulates ideas that bear with fresh exceptional caliber. The CDCD conducted its work with their partners: the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace & Development based in Beer Sheba, and the IKVPax Christi based in Amsterdam. Accompanied with a new partner, the United Religions Initiative based in Amman, the CDCD will focus on furthering the crucial application of comprehensive peace as an essential need for all the region, including within each country and between the regions’ countries.

This publication includes several policy papers about respective roles to be assumed by countries whom yield significant influence and transnational institutions that have vested weight in the region. Naturally the elemental role of the US is analyzed in detail and recommendations offered to enhance the effectiveness of it. Similar methodology has been tasked with the examination of the Quartet’s role. In the first section, Walid Salem & Nimrod Novik shed inclusive light on these issues of the US and the Quartet by also laying out alternative plans to compliment the current negotiations.

But of course for any negotiations to have a semblance of success, a supplementary track that provides accompanying courses of action running parallel to it. This is accomplished in section two by Walid Salem with the assistance of Miles Mabray as they configure the means of creating a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.

Subsequently, Scott Rattner scrutinizes the status and stance of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon vis-à-vis a comprehensive peace based on a regional envelope. His paper delves into the improvement that can be achieved regarding the refugee issues and Lebanon’s own standing strategic needs that can be accommodated with a regional framework.

Following the theme of permanent status issues between Israelis and Palestinians, Cate Bush and Walid Salem dissect the current socio-political situation in Gaza, its functions in the negotiations, and guidelines that will progress the conditions there to bring forth a sustainable stability for a framework of peace.

Next Laura Petrack outlines specific recommendations meant for the regional countries and global players involved in the Middle East, and how with their joined efforts would succeed in a comprehensive framework of regional peace and security. Successively, Jannie Kuik and Apo Sahagian tackle the EU’s role furthermore in highlighting resolutions and stances upheld by the EU and how its role can be of immense importance in advancing the negotiations forwards and simultaneously assisting the situation on the ground by acting on its resolutions and commitments.

While it is demandingly necessary to read and understand the policies in their entirety, the main recommendations concluded by these policy papers are as follows:

Israel must officially respond to the API offer of the Arab League and appreciate the historic potential it can bestow on not only Israel’s security and prosperity, but to also the entire region’s security, prosperity, and ultimate peace. On the other hand, the realization of a truly independent Palestinian state alongside Israel will further enhance the viability and future of Israel and its incorporation into the region when it will no longer need to perceive its neighbors in suspicion and threats. And as the Kerry Initiative states, Israel should allow an economic building of Palestinian statehood including lifting all the restrictions on the Palestinian Economy including Area C, East Jerusalem, rebuilding Gaza strip and creating the link between West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinians must methodically integrate developmental dimension into their non-violent struggle. By using the opportunity presented by the Kerry Initiative, they must build a Palestinian Statehood in a bottom up approach must be embarked , regardless of the status of negotiation and establish link between Area C, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Simultaneously, engaging with the Israeli public should be considered so that the upper governmental echelons of Israel can take heed of the wave of support for peace.

Jordan can play an essential role in security matters relating with Israel and Palestine. It can help the Israeli and Palestinian to create a security strategy and agreement for the Jordan Valley, also by security arrangements from the Jordanian side. Being one of the two states (with Egypt) that were delegated to communicate the Arab peace initiative (API) by the Arab League, Jordan should keep communication the initiative and should have a plan for systematic actions, while also actively help to keep the region peaceful making sure that both sides are secure and motivate the other Arab and Islamic countries to have normal relations with Israel once it has withdrawn from the Palestinian and Arab territories occupied in 1967 as the API states. In the economic sphere, Jordan should encourage Israelis to remove the restrictions on Palestinian economy; encourage in- and export of goods to and from Jordan and via Jordan to the other Arab countries and to the other world countries; and if Israel accepts the API trilateral mega economic projects can be developed between Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

As for Egypt, it should use its peaceful relations with Israel to help with developing security arrangements between Gaza, Israel and Egypt including providing trilateral arrangements in this regard. Similar to Jordan, Egypt is one of the two states that were delegated to communicate the Arab peace initiative (API) by the Arab League. So they should keep communicating the initiative and develop a plan for systematic action. Moreover, for the betterment of Egypt’s stability, Egypt must think of improving Gaza’s economy as part of a neighboring country and opening the border crossing for transferring resources and goods; and encourage Israelis to remove the restrictions on Palestinian economy and encourage in- and export of goods from and to Egypt with Palestinian people.

For the case of Lebanon, there must be means of formalizing and institutionalizing a relationship between the Lebanese and the Palestinian refugees there based on symmetry of rights, responsibilities, and improving the living conditions of the Palestinian camp and non-camp residents. The Lebanese state and the PLO must therefore formalize their relationship, preferably through a specialized body in the PLO (see section below for further details) dedicated to the Palestinians in Lebanon.  Optimally, such a reinvigorated relationship between the two sides would include working with the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency to improve service provision (particularly with regard to education and reconstruction of the overcrowded and dilapidated refugee camps) and ensure their orderly administration.  Only through strengthening the presence of the PLO and their interaction with Palestinian actors and organizations in the camps can material accomplishments be made and assurances given to the Lebanese people that they will not be expected to bear the social and financial costs of Palestinian resettlement

Saudi Arabia must utilize its regional and global position to on one hand define their responsibilities to support the Palestinians and provide incentives to Israel via back channels, and on the other hand play an essential role in moving the process of peace forward through its role in the G20, OIC, Arab League and in the API follow up committee.

Using its position as head of the API follow up committee Qatar can actively work on ideas how the two state solution can be achieved peacefully. Furthermore its position in the Arab League can be used to present achievements made by the API follow up committee work.

The Arab League should first and foremost maintain the offer of the API on the table while addressing Israel directly via media campaigns. Additionally, it should work together with the EU, BRICS, OIC, nonaligned countries, African Union and other international bodies to present a more united position towards the negotiations which would drive for consensual and reasonable solutions. The Arab League should promote the fact that if Israel accepts the API that economic cooperation will come into existence in the whole region and therefore create a stronger economy in the whole Middle East.

The API Follow-Up Committee should offer incentives to both parties if API is accepted and develop a grand plan to build the Palestinian economy and create normal relations between the Arab countries and Israel. And due to Qatar’s headship in the committee, it can host track 2 and track 1, 5 back channel meetings as parallel to official channels to fasten progress.

Serving as one of the more crucial pillars of the international community’s involvement in the region, the Quartet can support to Kerry Initiative to develop peace between the two sides including by giving feedback and creating a process of regular meetings in order to insure a participatory decision making process. And by also developing permanent contact with LAS (League of Arab States), Israel and OIC and other international bodies in order to broaden the process of participation for finding Israeli- Palestinian peace. The Quartet should also encourage the other regional and international countries and the private sector worldwide to take the responsibilities on supporting and investing in the Palestinian economy.

The UN should alert the international community that status quo is unacceptable. Help with communicating the API to Israel and initiate more open talks to Israeli officials. Active pushing for Resolutions 242 and 338 is needed. And the UN should create a new UN resolution that includes mechanisms for the API implementation towards a Middle East comprehensive peace draft. Playing an active role in the Quartet by providing suggestions and feedback to move the Palestinian Israeli negotiation forwards, and by following the implementation of the international community programs of building the Palestinian statehood.

The EU should support the current negotiations by ongoing support for state building in Palestine. This state building should also concentrate on East Jerusalem and  C-areas. Next, the Eu should explore  what its own strategic interest are in order to build its own credibility (based on commitment to human rights, rule of law and non-recognition of legal violations)  in the case of a peace deal. Given the changes in the Middle East, the EU should actively promote a common civil peace building agenda in the Middle East based on the Arab Peace Initiative  and the eventual outcomes of the current peace negotiation.  The new ENP Civil Society Facility and the new Eastern and Southern Endowment for Democracy should focus on peace and democracy.  The EU should look for ways to officially involve the regional players  in the ME into a multi lateral framework dealing with conflict resolution mechanisms.

With its long history of mediating between Israel and the Arab world, the US must alert the international community that the status quo is unsustainable. To that end, it must stress the API to the Israeli public and political arena on one hand, and engage the Arab world in the negotiations on the other. To compliment potential success, they must utilize their wide influence to neutralize any spoilers, while supporting the development and sustainability of a Palestinian Statehood financially and linking Gaza, East Jerusalem and Area C to the West Bank.

All these aforementioned recommendations highlight the crux of what roles must be adopted by the global and regional players to achieve sustainable regional peace and security. Of course, the booklet will emphasize with greater details and even more policies that resound in their efficiency and applicability.

The CDCD and its partners is dedicated to a better future that will hold peace and security for the coming generations that will call the Middle East their home. 


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