The reaction from Israel towards this has been initially negative, with a full out rejection of the conditions attached to it especially the right of return of refugees. The nature of the initiative as non-negotiable before Israel accepts it prompted Israel to flat out reject it. Israel claimed that the initiative was not balanced, and called for too much compromise for their part with little return from the Palestinians.
…any hope for future adaptation of this plan requires revisions of the details of the initiative in order to encourage it being adopted into action more than purely a theoretical framework.
Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat was on house arrest at the time and was not allowed to attend the summit, raising a lot of criticism towards its outcome. Other notable missing figures were the King Abdullah of Jordan and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. 2007 and further: The plan was renegotiated in the Riyadh summit in 2007 and has been referred to on numerous times as a solution for the problem. In 2007 Israel for the first time received a delegation from the Arab League headed by Jordan and Egypt in order to promote the initiative. Many draw upon the spirit of the plan as the first ever Arab step towards normalizing relationship, but the details of the plan are still not accepted by the Israeli/American side. It is clear that any hope for future adaptation of this plan requires revisions of the details of the initiative in order to encourage it being adopted into action more than purely a theoretical framework. Some suggested revisions such as the demilitarization of the future Palestinian state and giving up some of the Palestinian right to return. These suggestions are not agreed upon by all Arab states or fractions within these states such as Hamas and Hezbollah and may risk losing the unanimous Arab drive behind it.
Issues to look for
As the past experiences show there are some major issues that are seen to be roadblocks to peace and need to be addressed before a peace plan can be agreed upon.
A) Palestinian refugees
According to the UN there are around 4.7 million refugees including descendants of refugees from the 1948 war. The right of return of these refugees is a key Palestinian demand that is enshrined in international law in accordance to General Assembly resolution 194. All fractions of the Palestinian side have expressed their commitment to the Palestinian right of return and to finding adequate compensations towards refugee’s and their descendants. Most Arab states also agree that this is an important part of any peace negotiations. To Israel, this demand is not feasible as the return of such large number of refugee’s would undermine Israel’s claim to be a Jewish only state, and is seen as a demographic threat to their state. Palestinian refugees returning would soon tip the balance and make Israeli’s the minority in the land. This issue has numerous times lead to failures of peace talks for lack of consensus on the solution. Any successful peace talk needs to address this issue and try and find a consensus for both parties.
The wall has had severe consequences on Palestinians, having some villages and towns being cut in half, and huge portions of farms destroyed in order to build it. It also further restricts Palestinians freedom of movement.
B) Water Security
Due to the nature of the Middle East, water is a very scarce resource that has been a driving factor of many conflicts and tensions. Israel controls all water sources of the West Bank and so the Palestinians do not get the same amount of water that Israeli’s do. The West Bank receives far less water allocation for private use and agriculture than Israeli settlements. Moreover, there are further restrictions on them drilling independently for water sources. If a sovereign Palestinian state should be created than a solution for the water problem should be addressed in peace negotiations.
C) Separation Wall
The wall is an eight meter wall that separates Palestinians from Israeli territory and is built for Israeli security purposes. The wall is mostly located on territory inside the West Bank (contrary to Israeli claim of it being on the green line) and when completed will annex 46% of the West Bank. The wall has had severe consequences on Palestinians, having some villages and towns being cut in half, and huge portions of farms destroyed in order to build it. It also further restricts Palestinians freedom of movement.
D) Jewish Settlements
Settlements built by Israel in the West Bank are considered illegal under intentional law and are prohibited by the Geneva Convention due to their annexation of Palestinian land. Many ultra-orthodox Jewish settlers view all of the disputed land to be part of Ertez Israel, or as part of ancient land of Israel that was promised to the Jews, therefore, part of their natural right to be there. The settlers are overwhelmingly located near the green line and are seen as major obstacles to resolving the conflict. Palestinians see it as an attempt to steal more and more land, and especially an attempt to encircle East Jerusalem with settlements to undermine Palestine’s claim for it to be its capital.
During Jordan’s rule over the West Bank, Jews were not allowed to enter East Jerusalem and their place of worship there, Israel is committed to never letting that happen again.
Perhaps the most sensitive topic of them all due to its link to religion, this had lead to many peace talks to collapse including the Camp David talks of 2000. Israel claims Jerusalem to be its capital, while Palestine wants East Jerusalem to be the capital of its future state. This is further complicated by the presence of the holiest site for Jews (Temple Mount) in East Jerusalem. During Jordan’s rule over the West Bank, Jews were not allowed to enter East Jerusalem and their place of worship there, Israel is committed to never letting that happen again. The Temple Mount is also known to Muslims as Alharam Alsharif and the location of Al-Aqsa mosque the third holiest sites for Islam. As the holy sites can’t be divided between the two, a solution for this as suggested in the UN partition plan 181 could be to make Jerusalem an international city open to all.
F) Fatah/Hamas split
The Palestinian Authority officially split up in 2007 following the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. The split in authority lead to Fatah ruling the West Bank and Hamas ruling Gaza strip. They both tend to disagree on their approach towards peace. Palestinian Liberation Organization tends to be more moderate, and are more internationally recognized as Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas whom they see as terrorists. In Accordance to the Rabat summit, the PLO is also seen by the Arab league as the only representative of the Palestinian people. This split lead to questions on if the future of the Palestinian state would include Gaza which the PLO has no authority over right now.