Kerry's 'Security First' Proposals: Is This a Way Out of Israel's Occupation Fix?

12/10/2013 11:44 am ET | Updated Feb 09, 2014
  • Dr. Charles G. Cogan Associate, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School

In the past few days, the mainstream press has commented on proposals by the surprisingly innovative John Kerry to Benjamin Netanyahu involving U.S. military guarantees to Israel in the course of a peace settlement. Kerry, in his visit to Israel this past week, was accompanied by his military adviser to the peace process, retired Marine General John Allen, who reportedly has been meeting with Israeli officials on the subject of the proposals.

Little has emerged on the details of the proposals, if concrete details have indeed been proposed, but they seem to focus on achieving Israeli security while reducing or eliminating Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley as part of an eventual peace settlement. According to press reports, these proposals could include an international force along the Jordan River but under Israel's authority; early warning stations; and enhanced U.S. military support to Israel so as to guarantee its security on the ground.

Apart from the fact that the U.S. has now entered the negotiations with its own proposals, something that has been largely absent in recent years, these new proposals seem aimed at addressing Israel's critical security conundrum: how to sustain a situation, which has lasted for 47 years since the Six Day War, in which millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem live under the yoke of Israeli occupation -- with no plans as to what to do with them in the future. The notion that the Palestinians would somehow go away has proven to be a will-o'-the-wisp and a gross misreading of Arab attachment to the land. Israel can hardly claim to be a Jewish state with millions of Palestinians living there under its control. Even Netanyahu seems to have come around to the idea that a one-state solution, such as exists now in effect, is untenable for Israel's future.

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