‘Jerusalem as capital of two states’ and Kerry’s 5 other principles for peace

Secretary’s six key elements of an eventual permanent Israeli-Palestinian accord, as laid out in his December 28 speech

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech on Middle East peace at The US Department of State on December 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech on Middle East peace at The US Department of State on December 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)

AFP — There was little new in US Secretary of State John Kerry’s outline for measures to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians presented Wednesday.

But Washington’s top diplomat hopes that by laying out the ideas that he says are shared by the broader international community, he can leave a framework.

Nothing in his speech will bind incoming US President-elect Donald Trump, and Kerry’s intervention has been angrily rejected by Israel.

Here are the “six principles” Kerry says must underlie a renewed search for peace based on an Israel-Palestine two-state solution.

‘Recognized international borders’

On November 22, 1967, after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War over its Arab neighbors, the UN Security Council passed its Resolution 242.

Israel’s win left it in possession of the Golan Heights, Gaza, Sinai, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in addition to its original territory.

Under UNSC 242, Israel should hand back captured territory and in 1993 the Palestinian Liberation Organization agreed that 242 could serve as a basis for talks.

Israel has pulled out of Sinai and Gaza, annexed Golan and east Jerusalem and is occupying and settling the West Bank.

Kerry’s speech insisted that UNSC 242 has long been “accepted by both sides” and must be followed, albeit with “mutually agreed equivalent swaps.”

And he warned: “No changes by Israel to the 1967 lines will be recognized by the international community unless agreed to by both sides.”

‘Two states for two peoples’

Israel did not welcome Kerry’s speech, but many Israelis will welcome his second “core principle” for any deal.

While the final settlement will see the Palestinians installed in their own state, they must in turn recognize Israel “as a Jewish state.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that the Palestinian hostility to the idea of Israel as a Jewish homeland is a key barrier to peace.

But Kerry noted that this has been enshrined in the plan since 1947, when the disputed area was partitioned under UN General Assembly resolution 181.

‘Realistic solution for refugees’

There are an estimated five million Palestinians claiming descent from those displaced from their homes during the creation of Israel.

Their long-standing demand for a “right of return” to homes in some cases now within pre-1967 Israel has long been a stumbling block.

Kerry’s principles acknowledged that international assistance and some kind of compensation will be necessary and fair for these people.

But a “realistic solution” would not involve a mass return.

“The solution must be consistent with two states for two peoples, and cannot affect the fundamental character of Israel,” he said.

‘Jerusalem capital of two states’

Israel claims the city of Jerusalem as its “undivided” capital, and Trump plans to move the US embassy there in support of this idea.

But the city holds sites holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike and the Arab world would erupt in anger if a sole Israeli claim prevailed.

Kerry admitted that the city’s fate “is the most sensitive issue for both sides” and suggested it be the “internationally recognized capital of the two states.”

“Most acknowledge that Jerusalem should not be divided again like it was in 1967,” he said, calling for access to the shrines to be guaranteed.

“There is broad recognition that there will be no peace agreement without reconciling the basic aspirations of both sides to have capitals there.”

‘Satisfy Israel’s security needs’

Israeli forces and residents withdrew from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, but peace did not break out there.

Gaza has since fallen under the sway of Hamas, an armed Islamist terror movement, and is a source of periodic attacks on Israel and a target for harsh retaliation.

Kerry’s fifth principle stated that the larger West Bank must not become a similar threat, and that Israel must retain a right to intervene.

Kerry said that a team led by US General John Allen had worked on “innovative approaches to creating unprecedented, multi-layered border security.”

This would strengthen Palestinian security forces and provide ways for Israel to defend itself without impinging on the new state of Palestine.

‘Normalized relations’

Finally, under Kerry’s vision, a final status settlement between Israel and a future Palestine would see an end to outstanding regional issues.

“For Israel, this must also bring broader peace with its Arab neighbors,” he said, suggesting that peace would allow a “groundbreaking” security partnership.

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