In the current essay I would like to consider what role in the peaceful Palestinian – Israeli conflict settlement have unresolved issues of borders, Jerusalem, and the right-to-return/status of refugees. To begin with it should be noted that unresolved issues of borders, Jerusalem, and the right-to-return/status of refugees play considerable role in efforts to reach an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. As a matter of fact, issues of borders and Jerusalem for a long time were stumbling block in relationships between Palestinians and Israel. For a more detailed analysis of this issue I would like to consider each of three elements (issues of borders, Jerusalem, and the right-to-return/status of refugees) separately.
It can be said that the issue of borders is one of the most controversial issues in Palestinian and Israeli relationships. Israel has no objection to the formula of U.S. President Bill Clinton, which provides the transfer to Palestine 94-96% of current Palestinians area. The Palestinians would get territorial contiguity in the West Bank. Moreover, the West Bank is closely located to the Green Line, in which nearly 80% of all the settlers were to be annexed by Israel. In the remaining settlements – in the mountainous areas of the West Bank and Gaza – Israel is ready to offer different options: some particularly problematic from the settlements would be dismantled by Israel, residents of other would be given the opportunity to gradually transition under Palestinian jurisdiction, or to leave their homes for appropriate compensation. Israel agrees in principle to provide the Palestinian state compensation for the annexation of territories, but not according to “mile for mile”¯ principle, as Palestinians want. In turn, Palestinians are ready to recognize the border, based on the principle of compensation for the annexation (“mile for mile”¯ principle), referring to the accession to the Palestinian state Israel unpopulated areas adjacent to the Green Line. The Palestinians are ready to offer Israel 2-4% of the West Bank, where lives two-thirds of the Jews settlers, but without the annexation of Arab villages. However, until today, Israel was not ready to discuss the issue of borders according to “mile for mile”¯ principle. I think this aspect is the key and the parties must find a compromise, because without a final delimitation of the boundaries further peace process is impossible, as stated in The Great Chess Game.
The second and the most complicated issue is the status of Jerusalem. Israel has repeatedly offered the Palestinians a real control over the Arab sector of Jerusalem, with several nearby villages like Abu Dis. These settlements would become autonomous, although it would retain some elements of the presence of Israeli security forces and Israeli sovereignty. Until now, proposals of both parties were about complementary to each other; however Palestinians refuse to accept Israel’s presence in the Arab suburbs of Jerusalem. The main differences are about the status of the Old City and Temple Mount. Hamas insists on full Palestinian sovereignty in the whole Old City. In particular, Hamas insists on full sovereignty over the Temple Mount and the free sovereign access to East Jerusalem. Israel insists that the nature of sovereignty over the Temple Mount must be defined in such a way as to ensure that Jewish religious and historical traditions to the same extent as the claim of Muslims, as described in US urged to recognize Palestinian state as Fatah and Hamas end rift.
The third issue is the right-to-return/status of refugees. For a compromise decision Israel agreed to accept up to 10 000 refugees to family reunification for years. Palestinians insist on a much larger quantity – at least one hundred thousand, including many refugees from Lebanon. In essence, the Palestinians continue to insist that, in addition to the measures Israel should clearly declare its formal responsibility for the problem of refugees in 1948 and formally recognize the right of return to these refugees. In turn, Israel agreed to express sympathy for the refugees’ endured suffering and loss, and offered its financial involvement in their resettlement and rehabilitation. Israel’s refusal to take the responsibility for the emergence of the refugee problem consistent with the Israeli version, according to which Arab countries created this problem by refusing to recognize the State of Israel in 1948 and launched a massive attack to destroy it. Moreover, Israel pointed to recognition of the “right of return”¯, even if at the moment the Palestinians do not insist on its implementation, can create a very dangerous precedent for bringing Israel to the other claims in the future, as stated in Palestinian factions celebrate unity deal.
To sum it up I would like to say that currently Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal have announced the signing of a reconciliation pact, which will lead to the formation of an interim government. This opens new possibilities to reach the agreement with Israel and settle the conflict. However, there are three unresolved issues such as borders, Jerusalem, and the right-to-return/status of refugees, which can prevent the parties from reaching an agreement. I am convinced that everything will depend on the willingness of the parties to compromise for the common result. After all, I believe that there is no unsolvable issue ”“ there is a lack of will.