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Making the Geneva Accord Work
Publication date: 2003-11-12

How Can the Geneva Accord Resolve the Issues behind the Middle East Conflict

Following the publication on April 30, 2003 by the U.S. State Department of their roadmap to a permanent solution to the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict, a group of Israeli and Palestinian public figures have produced a Draft Permanent Status Agreement to resolve that conflict. This agreement became known as the Geneva Accord.

In the table below we consider how the Geneva Accord proposes to resolve the issues behind the conflict.

Analysis of the The Geneva Accord to Solve the Israeli‐Palestinian Conflict
IssueSignificanceThe Geneva Accord SolutionComments
Palestinian RefugeesAt the time of the creation of the State of Israel some million Palestinians were expelled from the coastal Palestine, which became the State of Israel. These refugees, having been unable to find redress against this injustice by any peaceful means began an armed struggle for the return to their land. This struggle became known as the Palestinian Terrorism.

The issue of the Palestinian refugees is the primary cause of the “Middle East Crisis”. Without resolution of this issue it will be impossible to establish permanent peace in the Middle East.

The international community largely ignores this issue. This is because as per UN Resolution 194, and the demands of some of the Palestinian Organizations, the Palestinians should be allowed to return to their places of origin in the present day Israel. Such solution is seen as threatening the existence of the State of Israel as an ethnic Jewish State.

It is possible, however, to achieve justice for the Palestinian refugees by compensating them monetarily for the loss of their properties and the loss and suffering caused by their expulsion. Such solution will not threaten the existence of the State of Israel and will redress the injustice which is the primary cause of the conflict.

Such solution is not financially unfeasible. One could see from the news clips of Gaza and Jenine, that substantial amounts of American and international money had been invested in steel and concrete during the past 30 years. In the early 1970's there were mud huts, not multistory concrete buildings.

Had this money been given to the Palestinians as compensation for the expulsion, rather than as charitable aid, it would have had the effect of redressing the injustice, which charitable aid does not.
Article 7 — Refugees
  1. Significance of the Refugee Problem
    1. The Parties recognize that, in the context of two independent states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace, an agreed resolution of the refugee problem is necessary for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace between them.
    2. Such a resolution will also be central to stability building and development in the region.

  2. UNGAR 194, UNSC Resolution 242, and the Arab Peace Initiative
    1. The Parties recognize that UNGAR 194, UNSC Resolution 242, and the Arab Peace Initiative (Article 2.ii.) concerning the rights of the Palestinian refugees represent the basis for resolving the refugee issue, and agree that these rights are fulfilled according to Article 7 of this Agreement.

  3. Compensation
    1. Refugees shall be entitled to compensation for their refugeehood and for loss of property. This shall not prejudice or be prejudiced by the refugee's permanent place of residence.
    2. The Parties recognize the right of states that have hosted Palestinian refugees to remuneration.

  4. Choice of Permanent Place of Residence (PPR)
    1. The state of Palestine.
    2. Areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine in the land swap, following assumption of Palestinian sovereignty, in accordance with clause a below.
    3. Third Countries, in accordance with clause b below.
    4. The state of Israel, in accordance with clause c below.
    5. Present Host countries, in accordance with clause d below.
The Geneva Accord recognizes the importance of the refugees issue, and seeks to provide practical solutions. These solutions are capable of becoming the basis for resolving this issues.
Israeli SettlementsIn 1967 the Israelis occupied the Gaza strip and the West Bank and established military control of these areas. They also began building settlements in these areas. These settlements also involved seizures of Palestinian private and communal lands.

This settlement activity is seen by the international community as illegal, but is continuing at the present time.

This is the secondary cause of the conflict, which was subject to negotiations and was intended to be resolved by the creation of the Palestinian state and agreeing its borders. Resolving this issue alone would still have left the issue of the Palestinian Refugees unresolved.
Article 4 — Territory

5. Settlements
  1. The state of Israel shall be responsible for resettling the Israelis residing in Palestinian sovereign territory outside this territory.
  2. The resettlement shall be completed according to the schedule stipulated in Article 5.
  3. Existing arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip regarding Israeli settlers and settlements, including security, shall remain in force in each of the settlements until the date prescribed in the timetable for the completion of the evacuation of the relevant settlement.
  4. Modalities for the assumption of authority over settlements by Palestine are set forth in Annex X. The IVG shall resolve any disputes that may arise during its implementation.
  5. Israel shall keep intact the immovable property, infrastructure and facilities in Israeli settlements to be transferred to Palestinian sovereignty. An agreed inventory shall be drawn up by the Parties with the IVG in advance of the completion of the evacuation and in accordance with Annex X.
  6. The state of Palestine shall have exclusive title to all land and any buildings, facilities, infrastructure or other property remaining in any of the settlements on the date prescribed in the timetable for the completion of the evacuation of this settlement.
The Geneva Accord recognizes the importance of the settlements issue, and seeks to provide practical solutions. These solutions are capable of becoming the basis for resolving this issues.
Destruction of Palestinian Property by the IsraelisFollowing the proclamation of the American War on Terror, the Israelis have intensified destruction of Palestinian property and killing of Palestinians. This in itself became an issue and a cause of the continuation of the hostilities. The current state of the Palestinian territories is such that a major reconstruction effort will be required to bring the area to a habitable state.This issue is ignored.The fact that the authors of the Geneva Accord chose to ignore this issue, shows that violence by established governments is at present accepted as a ‘normal’ phenomenon against which there is no redress. Governments can get away with anything they do. But this leaves victims of crimes by governments with a feeling of injustice and desire to redress this injustice by any means available to them. And this is what leads to ‘terrorism’.
Release of Palestinian Prisoners by the IsraelisFollowing the proclamation of the American War on Terror, the Israelis have been conducting a campaign of mass arrests of Palestinians. This in itself has become a major issues fueling the hostilities.Article 15 — Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees
  1. In the context of this Permanent Status Agreement between Israel and Palestine, the end of conflict, cessation of all violence, and the robust security arrangements set forth in this Agreement, all the Palestinian and Arab prisoners detained in the framework of the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict prior to the date of signature of this Agreement, DD/MM/2003, shall be released in accordance with the categories set forth below and detailed in Annex X.
    1. Category A: all persons imprisoned prior to the start of the implementation of the Declaration of Principles on May 4, 1994, administrative detainees, and minors, as well as women, and prisoners in ill health shall be released immediately upon the entry into force of this Agreement.
    2. Category B: all persons imprisoned after May 4, 1994 and prior to the signature of this Agreement shall be released no later than eighteen months from the entry into force of this Agreement, except those specified in Category C.
    3. Category C: Exceptional cases — persons whose names are set forth in Annex X — shall be released in thirty months at the end of the full implementation of the territorial aspects of this Agreement set forth in Article 5/7/v.
The Geneva Accord recognizes the importance of the prisoners issue, and seeks to provide practical solutions. These solutions are capable of becoming the basis for resolving this issues.
East JerusalemAlthough withdrawal of the Israelis to the pre‐1967 lines would have meant that East Jerusalem would have reverted to the Palestinians, the Wailing Wall, which is believed to be a remnant of an old Israeli Temple is situated in East Jerusalem under the Al‐Aqsa Mosque.

This Wailing Wall has an important religious significance for the Jews, and the Israelis want to have access to that wall. Some Israelis also advocate annexation of the whole of East Jerusalem to Israel, and some plan demolition of the Al‐Aqsa Mosque, which has special religious significance for the Muslims, and building on its place a replica of an ancient Jewish Temple. For these reasons the access to the Wailing Wall and the ownership of East Jerusalem have become an issue in its own right.
Article 6 (East Jerusalem) of the Geneva Accord contains detailed provision for resolving the issue of East Jerusalem.

The Parties shall have their mutually recognized capitals in the areas of Jerusalem under their respective sovereignty.

The Wailing Wall shall be under Israeli sovereignty.
The Geneva Accord recognizes the importance of the issue of East Jerusalem, and seeks to provide practical solutions. These solutions are capable of becoming the basis for resolving this issues.
Creation of a Palestinian State in the East Bank and GazaCreation of a Palestinian state is not an issue in itself. It is a possible way of resolving the conflict.

Originally the Palestinians had no aspiration for a separate state. They lived in Palestine which was part of the Ottoman Empire and the issue of a Palestinian state did not arise.

When the British took over and were about to leave, then the Palestinians were agreeable to a Palestinian state shared by all its residents, Arabs and Jews, and where the communities would be represented in the government in proportion to the population.

After establishment of the State of Israel and expulsion of the Palestinians from the coastal Palestine some Arab refugees settled in the West Bank which was part of Jordan and was later donated to the Palestinian refugees by the then Jordanian king.

It was only when the Israelis occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, that Yasser Arafat agreed to abandon claims of the refugees to the coastal Palestine in exchange of the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, which were to become a Palestinian state existing alongside with Israel.

This agreement proved to be unstable, because it failed to resolve the issue of the Palestinian refugees, and some Israelis had ambitions to annex all of East Jerusalem and not to leave the settlements. Some Israelis claimed the right of Israel to all of Palestine.
Article 4 (Territory) provides for the International Borders between the States of Palestine and Israel to be based on the June 4th 1967 lines with reciprocal modifications on a 1:1 basis.

It also provides for establishing a corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This corridor is to be under Israeli sovereignty, permanently open and administered by the Palestinians.
The 1967 border lines have been accepted by all the Arab states as part of the Saudi Plan. Together with the resolution of the issue of the Palestinian refugees this could form the basis for the resolution of these main issues in the conflict.
Reform of the Palestinian AuthorityThis issue was introduced by the Israelis as part of their use of the War on Terror ideology to shift the blame on the present hostilities on Yasser Arafat and to allow them to continue with their war against the Palestinians until they “reform the Palestinian Authority”.The Accord does not deal with the issue of “reform of the Palestinian Authority”. But contains detailed provisions for security for the parties in Article 5 (Security).Once the causes of the conflict are eliminated, the issue of security will be reduced to normal policing. The proposals on security in the Geneva Accord can become the basis of the security arrangements, once all the other issues are resolved.
NegotiationsNegotiations are not a suitable way of resolving disputes involving issues of right and wrong. Such disputes require imposition of judicial decisions.

It is like a thief stealing $1,000 and when caught red‐handed saying: “Ok, let us negotiate! I give you back $500, and you don't call the police.”

But politicians do not want to submit themselves to the rule of law — they prefer either wars, or negotiations leading to nowhere.
Article 3: Implementation and Verification Group
  1. Establishment and Composition
    1. An Implementation and Verification Group (IVG) shall hereby be established to facilitate, assist in, guarantee, monitor, and resolve disputes relating to the implementation of this Agreement.
    2. The IVG shall include the U.S., the Russian Federation, the EU, the UN, and other parties, both regional and international, to be agreed on by the Parties.
    3. The IVG shall work in coordination with the Palestinian
    4. ‐Israeli High Steering Committee established in Article 2/11 above and subsequent to that with the Israeli‐Palestinian Cooperation Committee (IPCC) established in Article 8 hereunder.
    5. The structure, procedures, and modalities of the IVG are set forth below and detailed in Annex X.

  2. Structure
    1. A senior political‐level contact group (Contact Group), composed of all the IVG members, shall be the highest authority in the IVG.
    2. The Contact Group shall appoint, in consultation with the Parties, a Special Representative who will be the principal executive of the IVG on the ground. The Special Representative shall manage the work of the IVG and maintain constant contact with the Parties, the Palestinian‐Israeli High Steering Committee, and the Contact Group.
    3. The IVG permanent headquarters and secretariat shall be based in an agreed upon location in Jerusalem.
    4. The IVG shall establish its bodies referred to in this Agreement and additional bodies as it deems necessary. These bodies shall be an integral part of and under the authority of the IVG.
    5. The Multinational Force (MF) established under Article 5 shall be an integral part of the IVG. The Special Representative shall, subject to the approval of the Parties, appoint the Commander of the MF who shall be responsible for the daily command of the MF. Details relating to the Special Representative and MF Force Commander are set forth in Annex X.
    6. The IVG shall establish a dispute settlement mechanism, in accordance with Article 16.

  3. Coordination with the Parties
    A Trilateral Committee composed of the Special Representative and the Palestinian‐Israeli High Steering Committee shall be established and shall meet on at least a monthly basis to review the implementation of this Agreement. The Trilateral Committee will convene within 48 hours upon the request of any of the three parties represented.
  4. Functions
    In addition to the functions specified elsewhere in this Agreement, the IVG shall:
    1. Take appropriate measures based on the reports it receives from the MF,
    2. Assist the Parties in implementing the Agreement and preempt and promptly mediate disputes on the ground.

  5. Termination
    In accordance with the progress in the implementation of this Agreement, and with the fulfillment of the specific mandated functions, the IVG shall terminate its activities in the said spheres. The IVG shall continue to exist unless otherwise agreed by the Parties.
Unlike the ‘roadmap’, which leaves resolution of most of the issues to ‘negotiations’, the Geneva Accord provides detailed solutions to the issues and has proposals for enforcement of the agreement by the parties by an ‘Implementation and Verification Group’ (IVG).

The problem which the authors of the Geneva Accord face in this area is that the entities whom the authors seek to make responsible for the implementation of the Geneva Accord, namely the U.S., the Russian Federation, the EU, and the UN are not under control of the authors of the Geneva Accord. These entities do not represent a single unit and can be unwilling or unable to implement the Geneva Accord, due to various ‘political’ reasons. And, if there will be no mechanism to implement the Geneva Accord, then it will not be implemented.
Making the Geneva Accord workThe Geneva Accord is a sincere attempt to resolve the Middle East conflict. The authors provide detailed guidelines how the issues involved in the conflict can be resolved. The authors, however, are not the parties to the conflict. Nor are they acknowledged by the parties as the parties' representatives.

The present Israeli government has dismissed the Geneva Accord, as unworkable. And without its acceptance by the Israeli government, acceptance or rejection of it by the Palestinians becomes irrelevant. Nor is there at present any workable supranational mechanisms for forcing the parties to accept the agreement against their will.

The authors of the Geneva Accord could, however, sent copies of the accord to the Israeli government, the PLO, and the other Palestinian resistance groups (Hamas, etc.) with a questionnaire requesting them (a) to accept or reject, point by point, the proposals of the Geneva accord, (b) to give reasons for their rejections, and (c) to provide their own proposals of how they would wish to resolve the issues. Failure to answer this questionnaire will be a clear indication that the parties do not want to resolve the conflict.

And, if the US Government say that they want to resolve the conflict, they could take the task of preparing this questionnaire and sending it to all the parties involved. Otherwise all their statements about resolving the conflict will be seen as nothing but political posturing.

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