Defense Minister Amir Peretz has introduced a new political plan titled the “New Roadmap for Peace,” mainly based on the Saudi initiative, negotiating for the permanent settlement with the Palestinians, and establishing an independent Palestinian state within two and a half years.
The plan, which is an alternative to the original roadmap, strives for a permanent settlement which will create a reality of two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security.
The plan calls for three stages:
Stage A will take six months and will include: The return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and the release of Palestinian prisoners; stabilization of a comprehensive ceasefire based on preventative actions by Palestinian security organizations under the command of President Abbas and under Israeli-Palestinian coordination; betterment of Palestinian life and expediting the Palestinian economic activities, and removal of illegal outposts erected after March 2001.
Stage B will also take six months. This stage will include the negotiations for the permanent settlement and expansion of Palestinian sovereignty. Israel will negotiate with Abbas or with any other element which will accept the conditions of the Quartet. Peretz said in closed conversations that if Hamas will accept such conditions, it may also participate in the process.
Simultaneously, negotiations will be held for the security and customs arrangements for the future port of Gaza. Peretz also suggests opening the Dahaniyeh airport in Gaza at this stage, and to create a controlled passage between Gaza and the West Bank.
This stage also calls for the transfer of all “B” zones, which are all under Israeli security control and Palestinian civilian control, to a status of “A” zones, which are under full Palestinian control (contingent upon dismantling of all terror infrastructures).
The principals which will be agreed upon in this stage will be presented to a multinational Arab conference which will give the approval.
Stage C will take 18 months and will include the individualized negotiations for the permanent settlement based on the principals agreed upon in stage B, where at the end, a Palestinian state will be established.
Peretz said that the plan calls for a gradual process which allows it to be stopped at any stage to reassess the results. “The Roadmap presents a reasonable order for the different stages with a realistic and detailed schedule which will increase the credibility of the process in the eyes of the two sides. The plan also included the propping up of the Palestinians’ motivation and ability to fight terrorism as part of the process,” he said.
Peretz is also convinced that expansion of Palestinian sovereignty is better than the idea of a temporary Palestinian state. In this situation, Israel will retain the ability to monitor the security situation and also the ability to conduct individualized negotiations. At the same time, Peretz also suggests renewing talks with the Syrians.