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Israeli-Palestinian teams held talks in London

BICOM and Chatham House hosted private talks between Israelis and Palestinians in London last year to explore new ideas to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The meeting involved former and current officials, academics and security figures from Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The delegates expressed overwhelming support for a two-state solution but reached a strong consensus that a single model for peace will not succeed. Instead they agreed to adopt a mixed model based on the best of different ideas that have been proposed, blending them together for maximum flexibility.

During the talks the teams critiqued four different proposed solutions to the conflict: bilateral negotiations,a regional framework, unilateralism and an Israeli-Palestinian confederation.

BICOM has published a new report, based on the talks, that proposes a new ‘hybrid’ model for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The report includes a number of insights and common positions that arose from the discussions.

Neither side wanted to return to the tired bilateral model of negotiations that has been followed since the Oslo Accords in 1995. In particular the ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ rule should be discarded.

Both sides agreed that a successful process relies on a secret bilateral back channel with strong third party involvement at the right time, including Arab countries.

Both delegations were acutely concerned about public opinion in their respective societies and agreed on the urgent need to create a single, strong civil society movement to build a constituency for peace based on mutual recognition.

The regional framework is clearly important to help solve a number of core issues but the Israeli side believed that involving Sunni Arab states would have a very positive influence on Israeli public opinion.

Israelis and Palestinians continued to disagree about what constitutes the core of the conflict: Palestinians referred to ‘the occupation as the principal reason for the conflict’ but Israelis saw the challenge as multi-dimensional, citing the need for ‘recognition of the Jewish people’s connection to the land’ and the resolution of security issues.

James Sorene, BICOM CEO, said:

“These talks were constructive and serious, we broke new ground with some clear proposals for future negotiations and rare points of agreement. Today’s report is a unique critique, by both sides, of the various ideas that have been proposed and a valuable contribution to the ongoing quest for successful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”