With the most recent breakdown of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian’s intention to declare statehood unilaterally at the UN, Israel must draw its own borders.
Speaking in depth publicly for the first time about the possibility of unilateral Israeli action, former ambassador of Israel to the United States, Dr. Michael Oren said “Plan B” would constitute Israel’s pro-active, Zionist response.
“Plan B is Israel’s way of taking its destiny in its hands and ensuring its security and integrity as a Jewish and democratic state,” said Oren in a special address before the Bar-Ilan University Board of Trustees and Ambassador’s Forum last evening (May 19) in Tel Aviv.
During the peace process, there was no consensus on what a final agreement would look like and that was before talks regarding the status of Jerusalem even began. “So where can we possibly go from here?” asked Oren. “The answer, surprisingly, is many places and with possibly, potentially, many positive results.”
“In contrast to the moribund peace process, a de facto Palestinian sovereignty is emerging in such areas as Ramallah and Nablus where one can see very impressive economic development and not a single Israeli soldier. There is an opportunity to build and strengthen these trends and, perhaps, to ground them in a new diplomatic reality.”
“Plan B may be thought of as an initiative to preserve Israel’s demographic and democratic identity and integrity, while enabling us to defend ourselves,” said Oren. “If and when the Palestinians declare their state at the UN — that’s their Plan B — and they will define that state according to the 1967 lines, Israel will declare its own borders. These borders will not conform to the separation barrier or even to the areas A, B and C as delineated by the Oslo Accords. Rather, the borders will seek to incorporate the maximum number of Israelis, but the minimum number of Palestinians. They will ensure a unified Jerusalem and include the Jewish holy places. And, most vitally, they will maintain our military deployment in the Jordan Valley and other strategic sites. Borders such as these can be drawn while maintaining contiguous Palestinian control over those areas where the vast majority of West Bank Palestinians live. In short, Plan B effectively ends what the Palestinians, and most of the world, call the occupation,” said Oren.
Regarding settlements, Oren said that unlike the Gaza disengagement, in which Israel uprooted all 21 settlements, in Plan B the borders would be drawn in such a way as to encompass nearly all of the settlements and enable the relocation of a select few.
Oren went on to emphasize that Plan B will not be acceptable to the Palestinians, but it will give them an incentive to come back to the negotiating table without preconditions and negotiate permanent borders which may be more to their liking.
While a two-state negotiated solution (Plan A) is unequivocally the best solution for Israel, stressed Oren, Plan B is the alternative in the event that Plan A can’t be achieved. Plan B does not negate Plan A, and even if it is implemented, the door remains open for advancing Plan A. Such a move would show that Israel is not relying upon Palestinian decision-making to determine the nature of the Israeli state, he said.