Every few years, leading figures to the left of Israel’s political spectrum repackage a failed comprehensive land-for-peace proposal and present it as something new, fresh and the only way to lift Israel out of isolation and bring peace to the region.
On Tuesday they were at it again, when a group of 40 left-wing political and military personalities signed a peace initiative that would see Israel surrender all of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, and most of eastern Jerusalem for peace with its Arab neighbors.
The plan calls for minor land swaps that would allow Israel to retain control of major Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, as well as large Jewish neighborhoods on the eastern side of Jerusalem. israel would also keep control of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, and the Temple Mount would be under some form of international control.
The rest of eastern Jerusalem would be recognized as the capital of Palestine.
The Palestinian refugee issue would be settled by opening the gates of the new Palestinian state to the millions of so-called Palestinian refugees. Only a small symbolic number would be allowed to take up residence in Israel.
Because many of the proponents of the initiative are former Israeli army chiefs or heads of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency - men who know Israel’s security needs - the media is insisting that it carries a lot of weight.
But for all intents and purposes, the initiative is just a repackaging of the Clinton peace outline from 2000.
The Clinton parameters were rejected not by Israel’s leadership, but by the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world.
The Palestinians do not want a single Jew remaining in Judea and Samaria, do not agree to anything less than the entirety of eastern Jerusalem (including the whole Old City), and have made a very strong point about not making peace until Israel opens its borders to all Palestinians claiming refugee status.
Why the authors of this supposedly new initiative believe the Palestinians will suddenly change their stripes and accept these conditions if they are offered today is anyone’s guess.