10 July 2015

The Folly of Coordinated-Unilateral Withdrawal

10 July 2015

The Folly of 'Coordinated-Unilateral Withdrawal'

How Not to Rescue the Two-State Solution 

By inviting comments to Cary Nelson’s essay A Proposal to Rescue the 2-State Solution, Fathom Journal (Issue 10, July 2015) has surely provided a useful forum for exploring and clarifying what is possible and not possible in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  In response, a slightly abbreviated version of the following article was submitted to the journal.  

The essence of the proposed plan is that in the absence of a final status agreement, there should be a series of major unilateral Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank.  The hope is for both sides to agree that each party would make moves that the other accepts to be part of any final status agreement.  Failing that, the tacit approval of the parties would be sufficient.  This means that each phase of the withdrawal would depend on positive reactions to the previous withdrawal.  

Cary Nelson envisages that this unusual process, which he terms coordinated-unilateralism, will initially result in around 85% of the West Bank being handed to the Palestinians.  Further Israeli withdrawals will be dependent on a final status agreement with the final border based potentially on the Security Barrier.  His hope and belief is that this series of unprecedented withdrawals will encourage trust and momentum towards the 2-State Solution.
These and similar ideas are also in circulation in Israel.  For example, Ami Ayalon, the former commander of the Israeli navy, former head of Shin Bet and former MK, featured in the documentary film The Gatekeepers, is a prominent advocate.