Towards Final Status
Final Status Negotiations
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1 - Final Status in the Oslo Accords
2 - Rationale for Two-Phased Plan
3 - The Situation Today
4 - Proposals

4 - Proposals

Despite this moribund atmosphere, the final status negotiations are an immediate reality. Not only has the May 1996 start date for the negotiations passed, but the deadline of May 1999 to conclude agreements on these issue is growing closer.

Some analysts, including high-ranking Israeli, Palestinian and American officials, remain optimistic that with a resumption of serious negotiations and further confidence-building measures from both sides, concluding the final status negotiations is possible. Others believe that sincerity and confidence-building measures will not be enough to bridge the great divide between Israel and the Palestinians on these issues, which remain fundamentally unresolvable. Instead of attempting to move on to final status negotiations, they argue, interested parties should focus on improving the status quo.

There are, however, a number of proposals for propelling the final status talks forward, and for setting guidelines for a final status agreement. While the details of the final status agreement await intense negotiations, these proposals remain the most discussed blueprints of how that agreement may indeed unfold.

Accelerated Final Status: In April 1997, aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu floated the proposal of the abandonment of the incremental Oslo process, and a move to immediate, or "accelerated," final status negotiations. As envisioned at that time, Israel and the Palestinians would sequester themselves for intensive talks (patterned after Camp David), with a six-month deadline for the conclusion of an agreement. If no agreement was reached at the six-month point, the parties would resume a process of incremental negotiations and agreements.

If pursued, such a proposal will clearly alter the modus operandi of the negotiating parties. Rather than jockeying for position in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the next two-plus years, Israelis and Palestinians would present their claims based on the current status quo. Thus, the final status of Jerusalem would be negotiated now, preempting complaints by Israel that the Palestinian Authority is creating a new infrastructure in the city, or by the Palestinians that Israel is seeking to build new neighborhoods. Of obvious benefit to Israel is that the final borders will be determined while Israel still has a significant presence in the West Bank, instead of following the scheduled further redeployments when Israel will only retain full control over Israeli settlements and military areas. For the Palestinians the benefit is the commitment to resolve these ultimate issues, presumably including the establishment of a formal Palestinian entity in parts of the West Bank and Gaza, from a government they believe is stalling the process.

At the time, Palestinians rejected the proposal outright, labeling it a public relations ploy by Netanyahu. Others questioned the viability of the proposal, and how Israel and the Palestinians could overcome the entrenched suspicion and deal with the issues that will most require courage, trust and concessions.

Since then, however, support has grown in the region and within the American Administration for a new negotiating strategy incorporating accelerated final status talks with immediate confidence-building measures, such as final guarantees for Israeli security and the opening of Palestinian sea and airports. In August 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced United States' support for the accelerated final status proposal.

Beilin-Abu Mazen Plan: The most prominent proposals for a final status agreement were negotiated by Yossi Beilin, currently a Labor Member of Knesset and previously a top negotiator and aide to Shimon Peres. The first reported "blueprint" by Beilin and chief Palestinian negotiator Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) was revealed in the spring and summer of 1996. While this proposal garnered much attention, no actual document was ever made public, and details of the plan are available solely from media reports. Since that time, Abu Mazen has distanced himself from the plan, and it has been disavowed by Palestinian officials.

Beilin-Eitan Plan: In January 1997, Beilin and Michael Eitan, a Likud Member of Knesset, announced that they had arrived at a set of guiding principles for Israel's negotiating position in the final status talks, quite similar to the reported details of the Beilin-Abu Mazen Plan. The Beilin-Eitan Agreement was released with great fanfare as the Likud-Labor consensus on a permanent agreement with the Palestinians. Neither the Likud nor Labor leadership has endorsed the Beilin-Eitan plan. (See Appendix V.)

Allon Plus Plan: In June 1997, Prime Minister Netanyahu presented to his cabinet a proposal for final borders for Israel and a Palestinian entity in the West Bank and Gaza. The Allon Plus Plan is being promoted as an expansion of the 1968 blueprint for an Israeli withdrawal from two-thirds of the West Bank by then-Deputy-Prime Minister Yigal Allon. At that time, Allon set out Palestinian enclaves which would be granted certain autonomous powers, and demarcated territory considered essential to the national security which would be annexed by Israel.

The Allon Plus Plan met with a mixed response in Israel. Some observers declared the plan for territorial compromise in return for peace a revolutionary development in Likud party ideology, and a demonstration of consensus in Israeli peace process policy. Some complained that the plan goes too far in relinquishing Israeli sovereignty in even small portions of the West Bank and Gaza; others argue that it does not go far enough in facilitating the establishment of a viable autonomous Palestinian entity. Others noted that conditions on the ground are more complex in 1997 than they were in 1968, notably with the addition of approximately 120,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Publicly, Palestinians rejected the plan, and complained that such proposals were released for the benefit of public relations, and not to further peace negotiations. (See Appendix I.)

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