This paper establishes a broad policy framework for addressing a crucial element of the regional Middle East mosaic. Solving the long-festering conflict between Israel and Palestine is a critical prerequisite for the creation of a stable regional economic and security environment responsive to the concerns of its peoples as well as to the vital strategic interests of the United States.
The status quo is untenable. It jeopardizes the prospect of ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and retards the establishment of a strategically secure Israel. It also prevents the creation of a sovereign and secure Palestinian state, living side by side and at peace with Israel, and endangers progress toward broader regional security and stability.
U.S. leadership is vital because the parties to the conflict are demonstrably incapable of solving the conflict themselves, thus obstructing the achievement of a central objective of U.S. policy. The United States retains the unchallenged instruments of national power to mobilize the parties and the international community to resolve this issue. Having established that a solution represents a vital national security interest of the United States, the failure to realize this objective impairs the United States’ ability to influence important events in the region and beyond. It also undermines trust and diminishes U.S. credibility.
The United States must be prepared to define the parameters of an agreement, particularly as they relate to the core issues of Israeli and Palestinian security and sovereignty, implement them through leadership of a robust third-party mechanism, and achieve a treaty of peace that reflects the requirements of international law, resulting in fulfillment of the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 242 and including recognition of the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the states of Israel and Palestine.
The United States must exercise leadership of the transition from a state of conflict to an era of peace that accommodates the legitimate security interests of each party and recognizes the right of each state to live in peace and security, supported by a multifaceted security framework that enhances stability and transparency and that addresses the ability of each party to deter and to defend against challenges.
The action plan proposed here broadly outlines what roles the United States and its international and regional partners should play to support the interests of all the parties. The core of this U.S.-led plan is the establishment of a workable, hands-on security support mechanism on the ground that addresses the two principal issues upon which U.S. interests are engaged-security and sovereignty for Israel and Palestine. It specifically does not address many other significant issues, including, for example, Jerusalem, borders, and refugees.
The entity that will consolidate peace is the U.S.-led Independent Monitoring and Verification Organization (IMVO). IMVO is a determined, visible, and active mechanism for securing the peace. It allows for critical issues related to security to be addressed in a transparent and multilateral framework.
A U.S.-led deployment as envisioned through IMVO fosters transformation of the security environment in the region, enabling Israel to permanently remove its forces from the new Palestinian state, building confidence in a peace agreement’s viability, reducing tensions, and adding a key, stabilizing layer of local and regional deterrence. This deployment enhances Israel’s security-a key U.S. objective-while enabling another key objective-affording the state of Palestine a viable territory for independence, security, and sovereignty.