TEL AVIV (Dec. 12)
Yossi Beilin, a dovish member of the Knesset, has stunned his Labor Party colleagues by proposing a peace plan that would include an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and possibly in the West Bank at a later stage.
Members of the right wing of the Labor Party reacted with fury against Beilin, a protege of Shimon Peres, the party chairman.
Former Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillel accused Beilin of “causing the party enormous electoral damage.”
Beilin, who was director general of the Foreign Ministry when Peres served as foreign minister, proposed that Israel offer to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. In return, the Palestinians would pledge to respect the security of Jewish settlements in the territory.
That would be followed by negotiations with the intention to set up an independent sovereign state in the Gaza Strip, Beilin said. It would have its own flag, its own national anthem, representation at the United Nations and a civilian police force, but would be completely demilitarized.
At the same time, Beilin said, talks would begin with the Palestinians in the West Bank, who would bring Syria, Jordan and Iraq to the negotiating table with Israel.
Only after Israel concluded peace treaties with the Arab states would the Palestinians in the West Bank hold a referendum to decide whether they wanted to join the Gaza state, federate with Jordan or federate with Israel.