Render durable any progress toward a two-state reality and the creation of an environment conducive to the resumption of negotiations.
Depending on the scope of progress achieved in Tracks 1 and 2, the United States could deploy several mechanisms in order to consolidate progress.
The United States can orchestrate a combination of consolidating steps made up of national legislation and executive actions, religious rulings, policies, statements and decisions in multilateral arenas including, but not limited to:
- National legislation, executive actions and/or policy statements by the U.S., Israel, Palestinian Authority and others, where appropriate, to formalize implementation of the steps taken to improve lives and narrow the conflict;
- Jewish and Muslim religious rulings that support this strategy. Jewish rulings should be sought from religious leaders, like the followers of the late Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who permit Palestinian statehood in the Land of Israel and Islamic rulings should be sought from religious leaders who permit Jewish statehood. Once Muslim religious rulings garner broad Arab and Islamic support, the U.S. can consider orchestrating their formal acceptance by the Arab League and/or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC);
- In coordination with Israel, and consistent with U.S. law, the U.S. can consider permitting Palestinian accession to multilateral institutions;
- Formal Israeli and Palestinian declarations of mutual recognition in multilateral arenas (e.g. UNESCO, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League, European Union or the OIC);
- Normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states designed to complement and encourage steps to improve lives and narrow the conflict; and,
- Institutionalize a joint Israeli-PA monthly audit of customs revenue and all deductions including health, fuel and other expenses.
The United States could consolidate progress by assisting Israel and the PA in concluding bilateral agreements that:
- Formalize water and energy agreements;
- Improve cooperation between the finance and infrastructure ministries;
- Reintroduce the presence of the Palestinian customs authorities to King Hussein crossing/Allenby Bridge, based on the regulations stipulated in both the Interim Agreement and the Paris Protocol.
- Redesignate territories currently slated as Area C as Area A or B, thereby enhancing Palestinian territorial contiguity and improving security performance. Redesignating limited tracts of territory would go a long way to creating uninterrupted transportation networks and fostering economic development. Based on strict Israeli security considerations, roughly 10% of West Bank lands may be eligible to be re-designated from Area C. Under this scenario, the number of Palestinian ‘islands’ surrounded by Area C could be reduced from 169 to 74.1 See Enhancing West Bank Stability and Security – Reducing Friction between Israelis and Palestinians Improving Palestinian Authority Governance, Commanders for Israel’s Security, June 2017, http://en.cis.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Enhancing-West-Bank-Stability-and- Security.pdf. Such re-designation of territories might occur in phases, tied to the security performance of the PA.
- Establish a Joint Commission on Acceptance and Tolerance to help create a culture of peace in both societies, address incitement and education materials and institute a series of professionally run dialogues.
Agreements with Third Parties
Consolidate progress in Jerusalem and the West Bank through joint Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian agreements.
House demolitions are a major source of enmity toward Israel among Palestinian Jerusalemites. This problem could be addressed most durably by advancing master plans in Arab areas of East Jerusalem, which would allow legalization of houses built without Israeli approval. Israel could accord Jordan such an achievement which would bolster the Palace’s standing in Jerusalem and among Jordanians and reduce tensions in East Jerusalem. In addition, Jerusalem’s Christian institutions face challenges from Israeli taxation and temporary residence policies. Israel could ease these policies in order to strengthen these institutions and publicly declare it did so, among other reasons, at Jordan’s request.
By doing so, this would upgrade Jordan’s status as custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and patron of Palestinian Jerusalemites.
There is also an opportunity to increase access for Jews, Christians and Muslims to the Temple Mount/Haram Al Sharif and reduce tensions at it by improving Israeli-Jordanian coordination.
This could be done through:
- Resumption of Waqf sale of tickets to non-Muslim visitors to Islamic shrines and Islamic museums;
- Approval of Hashemite restoration projects;
- Reconstruction of the Mughrabi ascent by Israeli engineers under Jordanian patronage;
- Annual visits of an international-Jordanian-Israeli team of archeologists to disprove claims about the harm one side or the other is causing to antiquities;
- Foster contact, and possibly even coordination between Jordan’s Waqf and Israel’s Chief Rabbinate in order to better respect the sanctity of the site for Jews (e.g. no soccer games on upper plateau).
Israel and the PLO, or if impossible, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate and the PA Grand Mufti, sign a new Declaration of Principles acknowledging historic truths and expressing recognition of the other’s worldview (e.g. Jewish and Palestinian nationhood and their respective links to Jerusalem; Judaism’s historical connections to the land of Israel, including the existence of the Temple, and the Palestinian right of self-determination).
The United States could spearhead the establishment of a joint tourism board to promote regional tourism, with a special emphasis on religious tourism. Original members should include Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt. The board could be expanded to include additional regional members that have diplomatic relations with Israel such as Turkey, the UAE and Morocco. Consideration should be given to inviting Russia and China to participate as associate members, as well as European states, Canada and Japan.