The Israeli and Arab media are chewing over what are reported to be key points from Barack Obama’s speech that will be given in Cairo next month. No matter that the speech almost certainly has not been written yet, but it just might be true that Obama has already made some major decisions on a way forward towards a two state Israel-Palestine solution. That the details of such a plan are being leaked at this time, if they are accurate, suggests that an attempt to sell the points in advance of the speech might be part of Obama’s plan. If the whole or even most of the story is true, it is a clear indication that Obama is very very serious about forcing a two state solution to end the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The key concessions are that the Palestinians will reportedly have to abandon their right of return to former homes in Israel proper in return for “compensation” (probably paid for by the US) to resettle on the West Bank or in Gaza. The Israelis will have to give up most of their West Bank settlements and allow the Palestinians to establish their own capital in East Jerusalem.
Holy sites in the center of historic Jerusalem would be administered by the United Nations with free access from both states. The new Palestinian state would be effectively demilitarized, with a police force but no army. It would control its own borders, which might not include its airspace, but the issue of how to connect Gaza with the West Bank is not addressed. Israel would also benefit from the revived Saudi peace plan, which would bring recognition and normalized relations with all the the Arab states except Syria. Syria would be a separate issue, with Damascus and Tel Aviv negotiating their own settlement over the Golan Heights.
The Israeli reaction to the set of proposals as measured in their media has been pretty negative, particularly over the issue of dividing Jerusalem. The Palestinians for their part do not want to relinquish control of Muslim holy sites. One would also note that demilitarized states don’t always remain that way, witness the Rhineland post World War I. Also, dismantling the settlements might be easy to agree to and hard to carry out.