On November 2, Daniel Levy and the American Strategy Program hosted Dan Rothem of the Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation in the second in a series of briefings in the run-up to the Annapolis peace conference. Mr. Rothem came to the New America Foundation to look at and present the current realities and options on all the territorial issues and ideas raised in previous negotiations, and he has developed the most extensive and up-to-date map database on the occupied territories, settlements, border options, previous negotiations and the separation barrier. Based in Israel, Mr. Rothem worked closely with various Israeli governmental and non-governmental organizations in an effort to re-route the West Bank security barrier.
Mr. Rothem began by reviewing some of the historical borders of Israel and Palestine, starting with the Peel Commission of 1937, the UK partition plan of 1947, and the armistice line of 1967. He noted that over decades of negotiations, Palestinians feel that they have seen “the destruction of the two-state solution” in the shrinking borders of Palestinian land. At Annapolis, Mr. Rothem predicted that the Palestinian delegation will make clear references to the 1967 borders, and desire land swaps equal in quality and quantity, less than 2% Israeli annexation of West Bank territory, and safe passage for Palestinians between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
In his discussion of what might be expected of the Israeli negotiating team at Annapolis, Mr. Rothem predicted the following: Israeli delegates will not mention the 1967 borders, will want maximum leeway on annexation, will want to make minimal land swaps while avoiding a one-to-one ratio, and will agree to safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank. He then ran through the chronology of the previous round of Camp David negotiations, reminding the audience that rather than only the much-discussed July 2000 summit, the previous round lasted from the fall of 1999 to January 2001. Mr. Rothem noted that several maps were presented at Camp David in 2000, and stated, “There was never one authoritative Camp David proposal.” On the other side, he pointed out that Clinton’s proposal in December 2000 did not offer a map at all, merely parameters.
Mr. Rothem believes that several points of agreement are possible in future negotiations: on the 1967 borders, a one-to-one ratio on land swaps, and on no hard limitations on the size of any modifications and land swaps. Unresolved issues will include the relative value of one-to-one land swaps; “Palestinians don’t just want land, they want good land,” Mr. Rothem observed, and populated versus unpopulated land swaps.
Following a discussion of the various permutations of percentages of annexation and areas of lands swap, Mr. Rothem delved into different ways Jerusalem could conceivably be divided. He thought that both sides might be able to agree that Arab parts of Jerusalem should be under Palestinian sovereignty, and Jewish parts under Israeli sovereignty, with special arrangements for the Holy Places.
Mr. Rothem then demonstrated his Geographical Information System software, which has minutely detailed data of Israel and Palestine, and fielded questions on domestic Israeli politics and the political feasibility of some options, how to engage Hamas, and settlement freezes.
-Katherine Tiedemann, Research Associate for the Fellows Program
New America Foundation
1630 Connecticut Ave, NW 7th Floor
Washington, DC, 20009
See map: Google Maps