Full Outcome Document – Gaza Blockade

Proposal to End the Blockade in Gaza

(Download a copy here)

Introduction

The latest conflict has brought into stark reality, the need for the Israeli and Palestinian people to  break from the status quo. A tradition of periodic and escalated confrontations between Israel and Hamas in and upon the Gaza Strip is unsustainable for the future of these two populations. These routine engagements achieve little for either side, but the losses are extreme for both. Conditions in the Gaza Strip today are the epitome of a humanitarian crisis: resources are scarce; homes, workplaces, and schools are destroyed; poverty is rampant; and medical services are more than necessary. While this summer’s war led to the largest scale of destruction since the formal inception of the blockade in 2007, deterioration of living conditions in the Strip have been a result of hardline economic and social restrictions on Palestinian life by the Israeli government for years. Israel’s security strategy has practically safeguarded its people and its state from various uncertainties, risks, and threats, but only for the short term and has not improved conditions for those impacted by the conflict on either side. The tendency of both sides to engage in the offensive through military aggression is an indication that a new strategy must be brought to the table to create an opportunity for change and a chance at peace. Ending the blockade on Gaza represents a formidable first step in a greater strategy to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, security, and prosperity.

We believe there is a way forward that, while not a cure-all, provides a substantial step forward, beyond the frustrating quagmire many have felt stuck in. The blockade of Gaza is one discrete piece that, if addressed, can have a positive ripple effect. We believe that economic benefit and genuine security are not mutually exclusive. Throughout the latest conflict, international attention has been brought to bear, with the increasing conclusion that it is in the interests of both the Israelis and Palestinians to lift the blockade.

The following is the presentation of a  multi-faceted agreement to gradually end the blockade of Gaza over the course of twenty-four (24) months. The imperative first step is the commitment to a permanent ceasefire; but essential to the success of this agreement is the resumption of the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip, qualified and provided for by several details as outlined throughout this agreement. A timeframe of twenty-four (24)  months is what we considered an appropriate duration to address certain immediate needs and demands of both sides, while also laying the foundations for long-term development of the Gaza Strip and Israeli/Palestinian relations regarding this blockade. As agreed to, it outlines steps that must be taken by various parties to ensure a secure and economically beneficial way forward. We crafted this to be a comprehensive document, yet we acknowledge that this is only a starting point.

Considerations and Limitations

Throughout this process, we consulted experts across the political spectrum, providing valuable insight on various aspects of the issue, including security concerns, Israeli public opinion, previous negotiations, etc. We also reviewed previously agreed upon language by the parties, including the Oslo Accords and Quartet Principles, as well as other, similar international agreements such as the Good Friday peace accords and the Interim Joint Plan of Action.

In addition, we made several key assumptions to guide our policy making. First and foremost is the idea that the lifting of the blockade would be linked to an ongoing and permanent ceasefire actively upheld by all parties. A ceasefire must be agreed to in conjunction with the adoption of this document, and enacted concurrently. We also focused our efforts on Gaza’s political, physical, and humanitarian relationship with Israel, as the primary and most stable actor with security influence and a stake in the reconstruction of Gaza. In contrast, while we considered the request to internationalize the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt, included in Hamas’ Ten Point proposal to Israel, it has specifically been left unaddressed by this proposal. The reasoning is two-fold: first, as this agreement moves forward, it anticipates a greater fluidity of people and goods to and from Gaza into the West Bank, Israel, and neighboring countries (not including Egypt at this time). Second, the current rise of extremist and terrorist organizations combined with political, social, and economic instability in the region is cause for concern when considering any potential openings of the Rafah Border Crossing. Both Israel and the Palestinian Consensus Government (PCG) have vested interests in maintaining the political, social, and physical security and stability of all borders. Other regional players, including Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and others, are components of the ongoing conversation, but in the interests of scope and focus, we limited their involvement. An additional key assumption is that all relevant actors would be present at the negotiation table without requiring preconditions, and that international donor funding would be made available through appropriate means for the points outlined.

We recognize that this proposal is not a comprehensive assessment of all issues raised by interested parties, many of which we agree are crucial to a broader discussion of Israeli-Palestinian relations. For example, the issue of de-militarization has not been addressed in this proposal. While our research and understanding of the current conflict, from both sides, included a discussion on the issue of the demilitarization of Gaza, we believe that as a collective we are ill-prepared to produce a strategy or set of compromises to address the interests and demands from both parties on this matter. However, we have not completely ignored the issue of state security on behalf of the Israelis or the Palestinians; instead, where possible, our proposal includes specific language to address certain security concerns and tailored steps to risks. In addition, we chose not to address any final status questions, including any potential land swaps, as we believe they are best addressed in a comprehensive peace agreement. We believe that this document resolves the issues necessary to end the blockade on Gaza. Our hope is that lifting the blockade  will propel future negotiations on a broader host of concerns.

This agreement is made in accordance with the tenets and principles of international law. This agreement incorporates and adopts the terms, provisions and responsibilities of the parties as established by previous actions, initiatives agreements, accords, treaties and resolutions signed by the Israelis and Palestinians at the time such documents were effectuated. Where such agreements conflict in purpose or in specific detail to this agreement, this agreement will serve to supercede those provisions to represent the current state of affairs and present day conditions of this conflict and party relations; similarly, where quantities or figures conflict, the greater of two numbers will be chosen to represent the figure by which the related provision adopts moving forward.

Plan of Action

Zero (0) to Six (6) Months

The following activities and actions are to be implemented and administered by the parties of this agreement at various dates and deadlines within the first six (6) months from the signing of this agreement. Any additional conduct or steps by third party entities are described generally below, and specific details regarding such a course of conduct will be outlined and described in separate agreements but incorporated in whole into this agreement.

  • The release of tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinians to the Palestinian Consensus Government (“PCG”) within thirty (30) days of signing this agreement and the distribution of which shall be managed by the governing authority. The PCG agrees to and is committed to complying and participating with an annual audit to be conducted by an independent third party as agreed upon by both parties subject to this agreement regarding the transfer and subsequent distribution of these funds.
  • The import of construction materials into Gaza is to be allowed for the purpose of reconstruction and development. Construction materials will be imported, exported, monitored and distributed under the direct supervision of the United Nations (“UN”). The UN is responsible for the selection of contracts and contractors which shall receive such materials, and shall oversee and monitor related projects from start to completion. (This term reflects the purpose and terms of an existing agreement entered into by the parties with the UN as of September 16, 2014).
  • Expansion of the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza to six (6) nautical miles within two (2) weeks of parties’ signatures of this agreement, with the expansion to ten (10) miles after six (6) months period, contingent upon  compliance with the ceasefire during that time period. Israel commits itself to a principle of non-aggression, withholding random artillery fire within the six (6) mile range unless there is a sufficient basis of evidence to conclude that activity, not in the course of business or leisure, is occurring and which directly represents a threat or act of equal aggression.
  • Israeli forces will withdraw to one hundred (100) meters within the Gaza border and will not operate at any point more than one hundred (100) meters within the border. Israeli forces will withhold artillery fire from this station at the border unless and until specifically provoked by individuals acting to threaten the safety and security of Israelis beyond the border. Within one month after signing, an international monitor, such as the US, European Union (“EU”), or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (“NATO”), will monitor the border with around the clock with unarmed drones to ensure no Israeli incursions into Gaza. This monitoring mission will continue for three (3) years, with the option for an extension of up to two (2) to be exercised by the monitoring authority in consultation with Israelis and Palestinians.
  • The opening of the Kerem Shalom border crossing to the import and export of goods and services between Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel subject to a monitoring system and security check point administered by the United Nations. There shall be an unrestricted flow of civilian trucks to and from the strip to enable, support, and promote recovery and development. Civilian trucks shall carry all consumer goods not related to construction or for the purpose of construction. All goods imported will derive in source from Israeli-approved vendors for the first twelve months of this agreement. This will mean that Israel may approve the vendors who provide goods and services for import into Gaza, but will not restrict the types of goods and services that are imported, unless they are materials related to, or for the purpose of, construction. UN or other humanitarian aid trucks carrying supplies and services to Gaza will have unfettered and unrestricted access through Kerem Shalom, but will be subject to the same security and monitoring procedures.
  • The UN commits to the monitoring of all current border crossings (Kerem Shalom) for import and export purposes.. Monitoring is defined as:
    • Manning scanner donated by government of the Netherlands to conduct thorough security investigations of imports and exports at border crossings.
    • Monitoring party compliance to the import and export of goods and services.
    • Reviewing business permits/documentation/licensing.
  • All border crossing facilities will be open to unannounced inspection by UN approved non-governmental organizations to ensure compliance with international standards, methods, and practices. Border crossing administrations will create online and physical hot-lines for reporting corruption and violations of agreed goods, allegations will be subject to an investigation, the results of which will be made public on a quarterly basis. In addition, a formal arbitration body will be created, overseen by the UN, to resolve disputes between the parties and to hear appeals from vendors whose goods were not allowed passage into or out of Gaza.
  • Fuel, electricity, water: The following provisions are designed to meet current and future needs of water, electricity, and fuel in Gaza during the period of time envisioned by this agreement and beyond. Israel’s ability to meet the following demand figures will be subject to current and developing capacity in Gaza, such that efficient, safe, and best-use practices are adhered to by local industrial facilities.
    • Fuel:
      • Fuel supplies to Gaza will be delivered through Israeli approved vendors. Trucks containing fuel or transporting fuel to and from deposit stations within Gaza shall be under the direct supervision of the Israeli Government. The Israeli Government will not have the authority to alter the amounts of fuel delivered or to make changes to the schedule of delivery.
      • Palestinian fuel stations, vendors, and distribution centers will supply proper documentation and licensing agreements in coordination and cooperation with Israeli governmental agencies and vendors regarding frequent sales, points of distribution within Gaza, and regular inventories on supply.
      • Prices and rates shall be agreed to by the Palestinian Authority and Israeli fuel and gas companies as parties to a separate, negotiated sales agreement.
    • Electricity:
      • Israel commits to supplying 200 MW[1] to Gaza within three (3) months of signing (Israel will supply 200 MW or as much as the Gazan electrical grid can safely handle).
        • International donors will absorb existing Palestinian debts to Israeli power companies; offer no-interest loans to PCG to help address new energy costs until domestic production is restored.
        • International donors will offer loans to Israeli government to create incentives and assistance to Israeli power companies to expand production and capacity.
      • The authorization of the permits and licensing for the set-up of an off-shore power generator, as proposed and offered by Turkey, to serve as a short to medium term source of energy and electricity as the reconstruction of Gaza’s electrical and power facilities are rebuilt. This facility will be subject to the monitoring mechanisms and facilities of an international coalition, group, or third-party.
      • Israel will continue to honor its agreement with the Palestinians on supplying gas from its Leviathan gas field. Gas supplies from this should be used to build gas-powered power plants in Gaza which would be more sustainable and economical considering the extensive gas fields discovered in Israel and the neighboring countries.
    • Water:
      • Israel commits to supplying water to the Gaza Strip in the amount of 6 million cubic meters per year.
      • Well-drilling activity in Gaza shall cease in an effort to reduce cross-border contamination of sewage and consumable water in the nearby Ashkelon region.
    • Sanitation
      • Construction materials related to the repair, reconstruction, and improvement of sanitation and sewage facilities in Gaza are subject to the monitoring activities of the UN, in accordance with current agreements.

Six (6) to Twelve (12) Months

Subsequent stages of this agreement incorporate previously initiated activities. Specifically, any activity, initiative, effort, release, or progress made on behalf of both parties shall continue into the subsequent stages of this plan, so long as both parties continue to adhere to the stated terms and mutually respect the terms of a related, permanent ceasefire agreement.

  • Six months from the signing of this agreement, the Erez Crossing will be opened to enable the greater movement of people to and from Gaza.
    • The border crossing will permit the movement of up to five hundred (500) humanitarian and medical cases and 500 other cases as allowed by individual permits, totaling one thousand (1000) permits total per day. Twelve (12) months after the signing of the agreement, assuming all previous security agreements have been upheld, the border crossing will expand to permit two thousand (2000) cases, without distinction between humanitarian and other.
    • Individuals crossing the border will be subjected to the application and approval of permits for related travel. The intended permit system will be a replication of the system currently in place to facilitate cross-border travel between Israel and the West Bank.
    • Israel will ease restrictions and facilitate travel for members, officials, and representatives of the PCG of a certain career-level ranking and seniority, after undergoing certain security clearance and background investigations.
  • For the purpose of human travel and movement, the Erez Crossing will be monitored by a coalition of forces previously volunteered from the European Union that will conduct cross-border checkpoints. The PCG is obligated to cooperate fully with requests for information and data sharing regarding the movement of its people between various locations in and out of the Gaza Strip, such that transit permits are fulfilled at best efforts.
  • Independent of other increases in daily pass-through quotas:
    • Israel authorizes an additional one hundred (100), twelve (12) month permits each year for up to five years from the signing of this agreement to be provided Palestinian merchants/vendors/entrepreneurs for the purpose of developing business and economy in Gaza; this will increase to two hundred fifty (250) additional permits per year from year six (6) until year ten (10).
      • Israel allows for business and personal travel for stays of up to sixty (60) hours in Israel proper (with a return and stay-period of seventy-two (72) hours to Gaza in between visits). Visits to the West Bank will not be subject to time limits or visit restrictions.
      • If “sponsored” by Israeli business, permit holders can stay in Israel for extended periods, defined as a duration of two (2) weeks per visit but with two (2) weeks in between visits.
      • Israel will add an additional five hundred (500), 4-use entry permits every year for five (5) years for postsecondary students attending outside of Israel [students re-applying for this visa to continue school will be given preference].
    • A special permitting process will be created by Israel for at least five (5) firms and up to twenty (20) private industry firms to begin importing renewable-energy technology to Gaza for pilot-projects that collectively produce at most five (5) per cent of Gaza’s electrical needs. Materials will be tied to specific projects; projects will be reviewed by US monitoring teams.
    • A recognition by both parties that the other’s territorial sovereignty must be honored, necessarily leading to the cessation of any tunnel construction beyond Gaza’s borders. If any tunnel is discovered, EU monitoring mechanism will serve as an intermediary between both parties to communicate information and ensure its destruction.

 

The items in the subsequent list are subject to the successful completion of the previous steps, but also represent steps that can be taken with each side acting in good faith toward a long-term peaceful end of the blockade. The following items are broader in scale, and target the long term well being of both Gaza and Israel.

 

Twelve (12) to Twenty-Four (24) Months

  • Israel withdraws its troops and security forces from the one hundred (100) meter point within the Gaza border back to the original green-line border demarcation.
  • The border crossing at Karni shall be opened to permit the transfer and transport of goods and services to and from Gaza. This border crossing will be subject to the same processes and UN monitoring and security mechanisms as designed for the Kerem Shalom border crossing (referenced above).
  • Increasing the number of people crossing from and into Gaza at the Erez border crossing to 5,000 people per day eighteen (18) months from the signing of this agreement.
  • PCG Security Forces:
    • Development of a joint program between US and European military to to train local, Palestinian police forces, under the supervision of the PCG, to promote the terms of the ceasefire, to promote security across the territories as well as between Israel, and to reduce local and trans-border crimes.
    • Development of a police recruitment, vetting and security clearance system to prevent infiltration of the PCG security apparatus. Jordan and the US will develop a joint program to train and build the capacity of PCG for intelligence collection on militant and terrorist groups operating in its territories.
  • A coalition of actors, including the PCG, Israel, the US and the EU, shall form a committee with a rotating chair to begin developing a seaport in Gaza. The coalition will solicit evaluations from experts to determine the scope and approach for the seaport, which will be used to develop a thorough request for proposals to determine the cost and timeline for the project. Upon evaluation of the proposals, an independant contractor will be selected to undertake the work, which will be overseen by the coalition. The coalition will also create a security plan for the oversight of the port, including imports and exports into Gaza via the seaport.
  • Israel increases the number of permits provided to technology, environmental, and development firms, lifting restrictions as to the types of contracts and activities conducted. Projects will be subject to independent US monitoring teams and any requests for required construction materials will be subject to the authorization, supervision, and investigation of UN monitoring groups. Such projects and programs can be financed by international donors to address the high upfront cost of these technologies, either in the form of loans or grants.[2]
  • An ease on restrictions for credit/financing to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Backed by coalition of international donors, World Bank, IMF, IFC and various NGOs, this group will create mechanisms to develop the economic system of Palestine. This will include affordable loans and grants to small businesses, entrepreneurs and farmers.
  • The US pledges to provide funding to increase Iron Dome capacity, from nine (9) to twelve (12) batteries, at cost of approximately $300 million. Pledges to fund the use of up to one thousand (1,000) Iron Dome Missiles, up to $50 million. This pledge expires after five (5) years unless Congressional extension.[3]

Appendix A:

Glossary of Terms Used in Agreement

Ceasefire: the end of active hostilities between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Consensus Government.

Violation of the Ceasefire (Palestinian): A Palestinian violation of the ceasefire is defined as a deliberate, authorized action by the senior leadership of any element of the PCG, Hamas, and/or Islamic Jihad, all signatories to this agreement. A violation is not defined as a random act of terror conducted by marginal, extremist, or terrorist element including but not limited to: isolated missile firing(s), shooting at settlements, kidnappings or attempted kidnappings of Israeli civilians or soldiers; Israel agrees to a high bar of proof in any allegations.

Violation of the Ceasefire (Israeli): An Israeli violation of the ceasefire is defined as a deliberate, authorized action by the Israeli Defense Forces against targets in Gaza. The IDF is expected to work with Palestinian counterparts to address security concerns as they emerge, however Israel does not waive its right to defend itself in proportion to the threat. Examples of potential violations include but are not limited to: targeted assassinations, airstrikes against civilian targets, shooting at fisherman within the expanded fishing zone, arbitrary aggression conducted within the borders of Gaza or outside of restrictive zones and areas as defined in this agreement.

Palestinian Consensus Government: Refers to the unity government announced in June and all subsequent governments which may form between the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and any additional Palestinian parties governing both the West Bank and Gaza.

EU Coalition Forces: This group is envisioned as a group of military individuals and leaders working together for the purpose of stabilizing Gaza and supporting the aims of this agreements and any related cease-fire agreement. The composition of this group is made up of one of four possible alternative sources: 1) European Union forces; 2) Western forces–including the US, EU, Australia, and Great Britain; 3) NATO forces; or a 4) UN force. The scope of this group’s power and authority are defined within a proposal to the Israeli Ministry, dated August 21, 2014[4]. The parameters of this agreement have not been finalized and have not been signed into final agreement by Israelis and Palestinian authorities.

Quartet principles: 1) A Palestinian state must recognize the state of Israel without prejudging what various grievances or claims are appropriate, 2) Abide by previous diplomatic agreements, and 3) Renounce violence as a means of achieving goals.

References:

[1] http://electronicintifada.net/content/how-gaza-gets-power/7844 – In 2008, Israel was supplying approximately 120MW to Gaza. While current supply is low because of damage done to powerlines crossing the border, with the right international financial assistance, we expect 200MW to be reasonable

[2] http://www.desertec.org/downloads/proposal_gaza.pdf – We were encouraged by the costs evaluations of various sources, and with the continuing decrease in cost of solar technology, this represents an increasingly viable path to move Gaza away from expensive fuel consumption.

[3] http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-morris-iron-dome-disastrous-for-israel-20140822-story.html – outlines cost for Iron Dome batteries and missiles.

[4] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.614455.

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