OK, Netanyahu? Israeli Generals Come Up With Own Peace Plan

© AP Photo / Tsafrir AbayovIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. - Sputnik International
The famous movement of Commanders for Israel's Security (CIS) has come up with a plan on how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, slamming Tel-Aviv for "passivity and inaction."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Avigdor Lieberman (L), the head of hardline nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu, are seen during a ceremony in which they signed a coalition agreement on May 25, 2016 at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem - Sputnik International
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Commanders for Israel's Security (CIS) — a group of more than 200 retired top level officials from Israel's Defense Forces (IDF), Mossad intelligence service, Shin Bet and Israel Police — criticized the Netanyahu government for "passivity" and "inaction" in solving the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict and presented its own vision on how to settle the smoldering crisis.

The CIS' plan envisages a series of political and security initiatives, aimed at peaceful resolution of the standoff, together with providing economic benefits to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Furthermore, the CIS recommends that Tel-Aviv should freeze its settlement building initiative and accept the Arab Peace Initiative.

The CIS' report envisions, in particular, that East Jerusalem should become part of a future Palestinian state. The Associated Press (AP) reported that Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amnon Reshef, the Israeli war hero and CIS' chairman, denounced "'the fear mongers' who claim there is currently no Palestinian peace partner or that conditions are not right for negotiations." Reshef underscored that such an argument "should not serve as an excuse for passivity and inaction."

The media outlet noted that the report's publication became a response to the political turmoil triggered by the appointment of right-wing defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, widely known for his skeptical position in regard to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

It is not the first time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under heavy criticism from the CIS' movement. Back in March 2015, the retired Israeli generals attacked the Israeli Prime Minister as he prepared to address the US Congress on the issue of the Iranian nuclear deal. The group dubbed Netanyahu a "danger" to Israel due to the fact that he had arranged an appearance before Congress de facto behind President Obama's back, according to Middle East Eye.

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Ben Caspit, an Israeli journalist and columnist for Al-Monitor's Israel Pulse, remarks that the authors of the CIS' peace plan are cooperating with their American counterparts, in particular, with Ilan Goldenberg and Col. Kris Bauman, chief of staff under Gen. John Allen and former member of US Secretary of State John Kerry's team.

According to Caspit, the security plan is supposed "to back up any intentions of Netanyahu to take a sharp political turn from the right to the center to resuscitate the diplomatic process."

The journalist remarks, however, that Netanyahu has already made a few steps toward resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinians. He refers to an unusually close relationship between the Israeli prime minister and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

"Netanyahu had a two-pronged commitment to Sisi: to carry out acts on the ground that demonstrate Israel's commitment to the two-state solution, and recognize the 2002 Arab Initiative as the de facto basis for negotiations, with the required 'alterations.' There is also a second side to this promise that, according to Netanyahu, is still valid: The Egyptians committed themselves, together with other Sunni states, to convene an international conference in Cairo that would jump-start the process — mainly renewal of the bilateral negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians and turning the Arab Peace Initiative into a working plan," Caspit explains.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, meets French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. (File) - Sputnik International
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On Monday Netanyahu told the Israeli parliament that he is ready to "revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians."

"We are ready to discuss the adjustments to the initiative with the Arab countries, so that it reflects the dramatic changes that have occurred in the region since 2002, but maintained the agreed goal of the 'two-state solution," the Israeli prime minister said in an official statement.

It seems that Netanyahu is serious about his pledge, and with good reason.

Caspit calls attention to the fact that besides the CIS initiative reportedly backed by the US, French officials are due to kick off the international ministerial meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on June 3. Remarkably, neither Israeli nor Palestinian officials will take part in the summit.

"The international moves, the French initiative, the strong fears regarding what US President Barack Obama is capable of doing to him between the US elections in November and the new president's inauguration in January — all these have pushed Netanyahu to create the outward appearance of negotiations and progress, to survive the difficult period," Caspit suggests.

The decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict began in the mid-20th century. Israelis and Palestinians have not yet reached a final agreement on a number of issues including borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, and etc. Palestinians also seek diplomatic recognition of their sovereign state on the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. 

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