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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 12, 2003

A Trusteeship for Palestine? By MARTIN INDYK

From the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs. I have only extracted a small part of it.

Martin Indyk is Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs from 1997 to 2000, and as Ambassador to Israel in 1995-1997 and 2000-2001. The ideas presented here were developed in the Saban Center's Israeli-Palestinian Workshop with input from the Israeli, Palestinian, and American members of the workshop's Design Group in International Intervention.

.... The equivalent effort in today's circumstances would require the United States to lead an international push to create a trusteeship for Palestine. This would be a major undertaking, but unlike the road map process, it could actually lead to the creation of a responsible and accountable Palestinian political partner and an effective Palestinian security capability, thereby triggering the appropriate Israeli response.

[...] Initially, the territories held in trust would include the parts of the West Bank and Gaza already ceded by Israel to the Palestinians (the "A and B areas" of the Oslo accords), with some additional land from the "C areas" that have remained under Israeli control included to provide territorial contiguity. The IDF would withdraw from these territories and the Israeli government would commit not to return as long as the trusteeship was fulfilling its mandate

Parallel to the establishment of the trusteeship, final-status negotiations would be launched between Israeli and Palestinian delegations to resolve, among other issues, the final borders of the Palestinian state. These negotiations would give Palestinians confidence that the trusteeship would not be a permanent outcome in itself, but a way station on the road to true independence and sovereignty. The gradual success of the trustees in building responsible and accountable Palestinian institutions, meanwhile, could give the Israelis enough confidence in their new Palestinian partners to enable them to make the painful concessions and take the calculated risks needed to reach a final agreement.

A well-designed trusteeship for Palestine would have an explicit mandate to build an independent, democratic Palestinian state. It would take formal control of Palestinian territories from Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority and hold them in trust for the Palestinian people. The trustees would then oversee the establishment by Palestinians of democratic political institutions, including the drafting of a new constitution, the creation of an independent judiciary, and the holding of free elections. At the same time, the trustees, with the assistance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, would supervise the establishment of transparent and accountable economic institutions. This process would be accompanied by international funding for an effort akin to the Marshall Plan to rebuild the Palestinian economy.

Initially, the territories held in trust would include the parts of the West Bank and Gaza already ceded by Israel to the Palestinians (the "A and B areas" of the Oslo accords), with some additional land from the "C areas" that have remained under Israeli control included to provide territorial contiguity. The IDF would withdraw from these territories and the Israeli government would commit not to return as long as the trusteeship was fulfilling its mandate.

To enable the IDF to do this, U.S.-commanded special forces units and other troops would be put at the disposal of the U.S.-led trusteeship. These would not be peacekeepers or monitors; rather, they would be tasked with maintaining order, suppressing terrorism, and restructuring and retraining the Palestinian security services -- roles similar to those currently being played by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

(This is key as he depends on the US not the "reformed" PA to end the terror.)

Parallel to the establishment of the trusteeship, final-status negotiations would be launched between Israeli and Palestinian delegations to resolve, among other issues, the final borders of the Palestinian state. These negotiations would give Palestinians confidence that the trusteeship would not be a permanent outcome in itself, but a way station on the road to true independence and sovereignty. The gradual success of the trustees in building responsible and accountable Palestinian institutions, meanwhile, could give the Israelis enough confidence in their new Palestinian partners to enable them to make the painful concessions and take the calculated risks needed to reach a final agreement.

LAND AND PEACE

To start, the trusteeship would be established in some 50 to 60 percent of West Bank territory and most of Gaza, with the details to be worked out by the United States in consultation with the local parties. While the trusteeship was fulfilling its mandate, Israeli and Palestinian delegations would have to negotiate the final borders of the Palestinian state, completing the talks by the end of the third year. Implementation of those borders would be dependent on the completion of the trusteeship's other tasks, but along the way, as the Palestinians were seen to be assuming their responsibilities and aspects of the final territorial settlement came into view, further IDF redeployments from "C areas" could take place and the territorial ambit of the trusteeship could then be expanded.

Of course, Palestinians would fear that if they agreed to a trusteeship initially limited in size, it would never grow because Israel would not continue its withdrawal from the remaining parts of the West Bank and Gaza. Some of them would therefore insist that the trusteeship be established from the beginning in all of the pre-1967 territories, or accept the concept only if it were accompanied by an Israeli commitment to withdraw eventually to the June 4, 1967, lines.

Israelis, on the other hand, would consider a prior commitment to full withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza to be an unacceptable reward for the launching of the second intifada. And some of them would reject out of hand the idea of an eventual "full withdrawal," since they view the borders of pre-1967 Israel as militarily indefensible. After more than two years of violence and terrorism, the gap between Palestinian expectations and Israeli flexibility is understandably wide.

One way to reconcile these competing concerns is for the United States to declare parameters for the final-status negotiations that would accompany the trusteeship. The parameters would make clear that the ultimate settlement would involve the end of the occupation (as President Bush has already declared), and would therefore require Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank and all of Gaza plus territorial swaps compensating the Palestinians for all the land Israel might be allowed to keep in consolidated settlement blocks.

This would establish the principle of full Israeli withdrawal but avoid specifying the pre-1967 lines, leaving the parties to finalize the actual borders

(One can take issue with this principal. Why must there be full withdrawal? Why must it be an equivalent amount of land? Why not just 80% of the land?)

As for the settlements themselves, the trusteeship would have to have contiguous borders to maximize the ability of Palestinians to move freely within the territories under its control and to minimize points of friction with the Israeli army. As a consequence, some settlements -- such as Netzarim and Kfar Drom in Gaza, and Ganim, Kadim, Sanur, and Beit Hagai in the West Bank -- would have to be evacuated as the trusteeship was being established (otherwise the IDF would have to remain and protect them, creating new sources of friction for the trustees).

In addition, the Israeli government would have to agree to freeze all settlement activity in the large number of settlements in the "C areas" remaining under Israeli control in the interim period, in order to reassure Palestinians that the trusteeship was not just a way to facilitate Israel's hold there

.(I disagree with the principle that Israel is not entitled to build there. This should not be conceded. What right do the Palestinians have to demand that of Israel? Why are the Palestinians entitled to be reassured? Why not just have the US impose this on them? End of storey)

Now that's a Roadmap that I would have confidence in subject to my caveats.