The so-called ‘peace process’ was based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and the most serious attempt to implement them on the ground was the Oslo Accords, agreements signed in 1993-95.
Although both sides complained about violations of the Oslo Accords — Israel complained about continued incitement and terrorism, which increased sharply after Arafat’s return from exile in Tunis, and the Palestinians complained that Israel was not withdrawing fast enough — the final nail of Oslo’s coffin was hammered in by Mahmoud Abbas, when he asked the UN to declare ‘Palestine’ a state.
Art. XXXI.7 of the 1995 Interim Agreement says “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations”). This is exactly what Abbas did, and he can’t blame it on unaccountable terrorist factions, as Arafat liked to do after his assassins murdered Jews.
Israelis always understood Oslo as a compromise — that neither side would get everything that it wanted. But the PLO always saw it as a surrender agreement, and became ‘frustrated’ (and everyone knows how Palestinians behave when that happens) when Israel didn’t simply withdraw from all of the territories in return for nothing.
The father of all peace processes was UN Security Council Resolution 242, which called for Israel to withdraw from territories conquered in 1967, and for
Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.
Land for peace and secure borders. At first the Arabs wouldn’t even consider an agreement that promised peace (see the “Three No’s“). But more recently, they proposed the “Arab Initiative,” which calls for complete Israeli withdrawal, assumption of guilt, and right of return for Arab refugees (what a deal!).
The decision of the UN General Assembly to grant Palestine non-member state status in all of the territories conquered in 1967 directly contradicts resolution 242 because it gives all of the territories to Palestine, without guaranteeing Israel secure boundaries or peace.
If we go back farther, the GA has also taken back the promise to the Jewish people made by its predecessor, the League of Nations, and embodied in the Palestine Mandate, to encourage “close settlement on the land” by Jews in their historic homeland.
It is interesting that although Israel has made great concessions since 1967 — withdrawing from the Sinai, withdrawing from Gaza, legitimizing the PLO, etc. — the Arab side has taken precisely one step since the Three No’s: it has agreed to talk, and this only because its military initiatives consistently failed.
Of course, General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, and this one does not have consequences on the ground.
Which brings us to E1. Israel has announced plans to build housing in the area called E1, which is located between eastern Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, 4 miles away. This has stirred up a hornet’s nest in the anti-Israel camp. The NY Times (which accurately reflects the position of the Obama Administration) wrote in an editorial that this
could doom the chances for a two-state solution because building in the E1 area would split the northern and southern parts of the West Bank.
Apparently the Times editorial board does not possess a map of the region or the ability to read one. I can help:
Ma’ale Adumim is one of those communities that were expected to become part of Israel in any negotiated settlement. Not only does it not cut the “West Bank” in half as the Times asserts, but the distance between the eastern part of Ma’ale Adumim and the Jordan is greater than the width of Israel at its narrowest point according to the pre-1967 borders!
So who doomed the “two-state solution?” If you mean a compromise solution in which neither side gets everything it wants, but in which both sides can have peace and security, as envisioned in UNSC 242, then it never had a chance, because this is not what the Arabs mean by the expression. The diplomatic ‘peace process’, worthless though it may have been, died on November 29, 2012 at the hands of Mahmoud Abbas.