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Opposition MK unveils framework for peace deal

Zionist Union MK Hilik Bar, who heads the Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict, yesterday unveiled a proposed diplomatic framework, which he says would resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Summarising the 25-page document to a conference of 450 people, Bar said that the plan would “protects Israel’s vital security interests, keeps Jerusalem united, solves the Palestinian refugee problem outside of Israel’s borders, leaves the majority of settlers in their homes, strengthens Israel’s position in the world.”

Bar’s framework calls on Israel to first recognise a Palestinian state at the United Nations, so long as the Palestinian Authority (PA) agrees not to use such status to undermine bilateral talks and accepts the concept of two nation states. Negotiations would then ensue over borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security arrangements. In addition to direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, Bar envisages that Israel would simultaneously enter into dialogue with other Arab countries and issue a formal response to the Arab Peace Initiative.

Bar’s plan would see Jerusalem remain physically undivided, but become the capital of two states, while borders would be drawn which would keep most Israeli settlers in their homes, with the option to become residents or citizens of a Palestinian stated. Meanwhile, Palestinians would be granted “privileged access” to places of worship, tourism, academia and trade in Israel.

Bar, who also co-chairs the Israel-UK Parliamentary Friendship Group, addressed relations with Diaspora Jewish communities in his framework, calling on World Jewry to be given “advisory status on issues of national importance and matters of foreign policy.”

Although stopping short of endorsing Bar’s plan, opposition leader Isaac Herzog praised Bar’s initiative and said it was a counterweight to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “fear-mongering slogans like there is no partner or no way to bring peace.” However, it was reported earlier this week that Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, who will head any future Israeli peace delegation, met with senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Jordan in order to build trust.