Tony Blair’s statement on the announcement of the USA Peace Plan

Commentary
Posted on: 28th January 2020
Tony Blair
Former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
Tony Blair

The American peace plan is an extraordinarily detailed and thorough attempt to set out a plan for a two state solution. It envisages the creation of a Palestinian State, West Bank and Gaza, with land swaps to compensate for settlements on the East of the 1967 green line, with no change to the arrangements or legal status of the Holy Sites, and an economic package worth around $50bn to the Palestinian State and surrounding countries.

There will be several aspects of the plan to which the Palestinians will strongly object and some aspects, not the least the creation of a State of Palestine to which parts of Israeli opinion will also object.

The Palestinians do not need to signal acceptance of the plan, but to engage with the American Government and demand the improvements to it they wish to see.

This plan is open to negotiation. It can be amended. So, the Palestinians will dispute the transfer of sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. The Israelis have genuine security interests; but the Palestinians will argue they need Area C for the purposes of development and to accommodate those refugees who wish to settle there.

Likewise, in East Jerusalem, there are Palestinian neighbourhoods which they will want to see in a State of Palestine, which the plan presently excludes.

And there will be a host of different questions of clarification over matters to do with settlements, the Holy Sites, security arrangements, and the precise timetable for transfer of land to the Palestinians which need answering.

The plan envisages a direct transport link between Gaza and West Bank, forming one territorial unit, something which re-emphasises the core necessity of a resolution of the impediments to Palestinian unity.

And I believe that it is absolutely in the interests of the Palestinians for there to be active Arab involvement in the peace process and negotiations over the peace plan. They need the weight and support of Arab nations on their side and for their cause.

But the risk of non engagement with the American Administration is that the possibility of realising the Two State solution becomes ever more distant.

So, I know the initial reaction of Palestinian politics will be hostile, with a refusal to engage with the Americans, but the interests of the Palestinians will be best served, by stating clearly their objections, setting out their needs and demanding the opportunity to negotiate the changes they want.