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The Ben-Eliezer Plan

In July 2002, Israeli Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Benjamin Ben-Eliezer set forth a plan for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a "vision of two states for two peoples, living side by side in peaceful coexistence." He explained the relevant parameters for implementing a final settlement, and stressed the need for negotiations and territorial compromise.

The solution, he wrote, would be based upon UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, and 1397, and would follow in the spirit of President Clinton's proposals and those of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

Ben-Eliezer specified three mutually complementary elements integral to Israeli policy: the fight against terrorism, a security separation, and the opening of negotiations to address the conflict. He particularly emphasized the need for an "unrelenting war on terror," and cited "our right of self-defense."

The security separation, a continuous fence complete with full technological capacity, armed personnel, and effective monitoring systems, would be erected to stop the infiltration of terrorists and their destructive weapons into the State of Israel. He stressed that the current boundaries, on which the fence would be built, mark armistice lines, not definitive political borders.

The future Palestinian state would consist of most of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It would include territorial continuity in the West Bank, and special arrangements for travel between the two territories.

In the context of the agreement, arrived at through negotiations, Israel would withdraw from all settlements in the Gaza Strip, and from the "isolated settlements" in the West Bank. Once the negotiation process begins, Israel would stop the construction of new settlements and would limit existing settlements to their natural growth.

As part of the agreement, the land in the West Bank immediately adjacent to Israel proper, housing most of the settlers, would become fully integrated into the State of the Israel. The agreement would thus arrange a territorial swap with the future Palestinian state. The exact size and location of the swapped land would be decided through negotiations.

An expanded western Jerusalem, including Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, would finally be recognized as the capital of Israel. This area, according to the "territorial-demographic point of view," would be separated from the Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city.

Regarding the Old City and the holy sites therein, Ben-Eliezer maintained that "a 'special regime' should be applied," so that no one power would obtain sovereignty over the Temple Mount. He called for "an agreed solution" between Islamic states and Security Council members to accent the legitimacy of this policy. He added that the Palestinians would have to recognize the original Jewish ties to the area, which, he said, they have not done.

Ben-Eliezer called for the final settlement of the Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war, but noted that "whatever the solution, it must not be based on what is called the 'right of return' to Israel." A return of the Palestinian refugees to Israel would undermine the "fundamental national ideological and demographic roots" of the Jewish state. Rather, due to demographic and security concerns, these Palestinians must either be resettled in the future state of Palestine or be granted citizenship where they currently live. Israel would participate in an international fund to aid any adjustments.

He emphasized that the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Arab countries following the creation of the State of Israel must be considered in drafting the final settlement to the Palestinian refugee problem.

Security, he stated, is the fundamental foundation of any agreement. Therefore, he advocated the complete supervised demilitarization of the Palestinian state. Israel must have the "indivisible" control of airspace, as well as the capacity to respond to any emergency situation.

Finally, Ben-Eliezer stressed the need for international support, in the form of significant economic aid, supervision of security operations, observer forces, and a new UN Security Council resolution encompassing all former relevant resolutions.

While acknowledging that significant progress would not arrive immediately, he repeated that need for negotiations: "We will keep the door of negotiations open until there is somebody who will walk through it with us."

:Fight Terror and Build a Fence