When Israel annexes part of the West Bank, it is time to recognize the Palestinian state, ex-minister Jossi Beilin said.
taz: Mr. Beilin, the Israeli government may annex parts of the West Bank on July 1. The term peace has long played a central role in Israeli culture, today the word seems to have taken on a negative meaning.
Jossi Beilin: I do not believe that. If you look at the public opinion polls, it’s true that 25 years ago people still thought peace was a realistic hope. Today they are much more pessimistic. But it’s not that peace in itself has become a bad word. If it were, Trump would not have called his idiotic plan “from peace to prosperity”.
Trump has presented a strange peace plan. The negotiations were conducted without the participation of the Palestinians. The plan unclearly includes the annexation of parts of the West Bank. In the rest of the area, a completely devastated area in the West Bank, the Palestinians are being offered their own, but not sovereign, state under conditions that are impossible to accept.
This plan should never have been put on the table. The plan has no peace, but it uses all the words that have been created in recent years in connection with the two-state solution: land exchange, capital of the Palestinian state in the so-called al-Quds …
Born in 1948, was Minister of Economy and Justice. As Vice Foreign Minister, he accompanied the Oslo peace process.
So the Israeli capital in part of the Jerusalem area would continue to be called Jerusalem and the Palestinian part of al-Quds …
… only the terms have completely emptied their original meaning. If you read through the Trump plan, it becomes clear that it uses the same principles as the Clinton parameters and the Geneva Initiative, but it is very stingy towards the Palestinians.
The Clinton parameters are guidelines for a permanent peace agreement that was proposed by then-American President Bill Clinton in 2000 after Camp David’s failure. You founded the Geneva Initiative together with the Palestinian politician Yassir Abed Rabbo, and it is also about a lasting peace solution.
Yes, but David Friedman, the ridiculous American ambassador to Israel, who is actually the ambassador of the settlers and the right hand of Netanyahu, has proposed something that Israel has never asked for. Netanyahu has spoken of strategic borders on the Jordan River all the years, Israel has been present there for 40 years, yet Netanyahu has never proposed annexation. And suddenly it becomes such an important thing. It makes no sense, especially considering that since 1994 we have had no front line to the east because of the peace treaty with Jordan.
Why do you think Trump suggested it?
I think Trump wanted to do something big. If not peace with North Korea, then maybe peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And if not peace, then something for Israel. With which he also serves his evangelical supporters. Netanyahu is more intelligent, he uses Trump as an opportunity and says: “There is a historic opportunity.” Trump says: “You want to annex 30 percent of the West Bank? No problem. We are here in the self-service shop. “
Do you think Netanyahu will take his announcement seriously?
He has put himself in a situation that he can hardly get out of. Even if he knows deep down that it is not so wise to do it. Especially when you take the risks into account. The demographic is a risk. If we begin to annex the West Bank, we will have a Jewish minority dominated by an Arab majority in no time, in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. If anyone wants to say that this is not apartheid, that’s fine, but it will be a form of apartheid. Which is not yet the case. The other risks are unclear. How does the international community react? Will there be violent outbreaks?
How do you feel about annexation?
Dreadful. Why do we need it? None of the previous governments has spoken of annexation, not even the so-called “falcons” Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Shamir.
Israeli Prime Ministers Moving Right …
They knew it wasn’t necessary. And also because some of them believe that there will be a solution someday. But the annexation of Jerusalem in 1967, in the midst of the euphoric mood after the Six Day War in 1967, was a great exaggeration. One could understand that Israel annexed one square kilometer of the old city. But to annex seventy square kilometers, with 28 Arab villages that had nothing to do with Jerusalem just because it was possible …
There is currently a heated debate in the EU about what a reaction to annexation should look like. What would you suggest to the EU?
First, the EU is not present enough. Israel is of the opinion that the issue is not on their agenda and only lip service is coming. Apart from a visit by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Israel, during which he did not meet the Palestinians personally, a delegation of Foreign Ministers should come to the region and speak to the Jordanians, the Palestinians and the Israelis. Secondly, I am fighting the BDS, but if such a pernicious decision by the State of Israel to unilaterally annex part of the territory and break the interim agreement with the Palestinians, then perhaps it is time for the Palestinian State to recognize it. Because then the land grab is perceived as an annexation of an area that belongs to another state. The EU as such will not recognize Palestine, but individual member states can.
How optimistic are you that there will be peace in the Middle East?
If I were a pessimist, I would never have touched the question of peace. But the main question is: are we doing the right thing to advance peace or not? Peace doesn’t happen by itself. It needs enough people to fight for peace, and leaders need to be willing to be murdered. But there is no reason that there should be no peace, we have come a long way to find solutions. We have some guidelines and we know exactly where to go. Not with the idiotic Trump plan. But with the Clinton parameters and the Geneva Initiative.