Former Shin Bet chief pushes for a two-state solution without negotiations

Peace between Israelis and Palestinians depends on coordinated unilateral actions, not negotiations, former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon explained during a panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars on Thursday. Ayalon, who also served as a member of Knesset for the Labor Party, said that "the idea of negotiations does not exist anymore."

Ayalon presented his own plan for a two-state solution, authored by Blue White Future, a non-partisan political movement he founded. The plan, based on the Clinton Parameters, first calls for Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians based on the 1967 lines and a territorial swap, should the Palestinians decide to come to the table. Second, it insists on the security fence as a provisional line and states that annexing the eastern side of the fence is not in Israel's interest. Third, the plan calls for the Knesset to pass a law enabling those settlers living on the eastern side of the fence to return to the western side, should they wish to do so. Fourth, it states that the Knesset should create a strategic plan to bring back all 100,00 settlers so as not to repeat the mistakes of the Gaza Strip pullout. Fifth, it demands that the Israeli Defense Forces remain on the eastern side of the fence to prevent any security risks. Finally, the plan requires that the Knesset pass a law that any agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians be put to a national referendum.

Robert Malley, who served as special assistant to President Clinton on Arab-Israeli Affairs, agreed that the concept of unilateralism is profound, compared to prospects for future negotiations, particularly the plan of the Quartet:

"I can't remember the last conversation I've had with a an official member from the Quartet ... who genuinely believed what they were mouthing everyday.... They don't believe it and the argument that they give for maintaining the fiction is that if you discard the fiction then you're going to leave people in a state of hopelessness and create a vacuum that bad things will fill."

Wilson Center fellow and Foreign Policy columnist Aaron David Miller, who moderated the panel, cautiously praised the plan:

"What Ami is offering is logical, it's credible. I like it because it's unanchored and unmoored to an American role in this negotiation right now or for the foreseeable future, and I also like it because it's self-directed.... Whether it will work or not is another matter."

Ayalon, meanwhile, is also putting his faith in the Israeli government:

" We understand for the time ... he cannot blame his coalition today. His coalition.... I know that in this Kensset and in this coalition, this program, this paradigm, is acceptable."

Netanyahu may have just assembled a coalition of 94 out of 120 Knesset members, a considerable mandate, but there's no guarantee that the coalition will stay intact. If history has anything to say about Israeli unity governments, nothing is ever for certain.

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images


America the exception: 7 other treaties the U.S. hasn't ratified

The Obama administration, this month, decided to take up the fairly unrewarding task of pushing for the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. In a piece for FP today, James Kraska explains why ratification is long overdue. The treaty, which lays out rules for both military use of the seas and extraction of resources, went into effect in 1994, has been accepted by 161 nations, and was supported by both the Clinton and Bush administrations as well as U.S. Naval commanders. However it will still face a tough fight in Congress where many lawmakers feel it would constitute an unwarranted intrusion on U.S. sovereignty. 

But the Law of the Sea is hardly the only major international agreement waiting for either a U.S. signature, or for Congress to approve ratification. Here's a quick look at a few of the other international treaties and conventions where the United Statates is conspicuous by its absence:

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Entered into force in 1990, signed by U.S. in 1995

Number of states parties: 193 (Fellow non-ratifiers: Somalia, South Sudan*)

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

Signed by U.S. in 1980, entered into force in 1981

Number of states parties: 187 (Fellow non-ratifiers: Palau, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tonga) 

Mine Ban Treaty

Entered into force in 1999, never signed by U.S.

Number of states parties:159

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Entered into force in 2008, signed by U.S. in 2009.

Number of states parties: 112

Convention on Cluster Munitions

Entered into force in 2010, never signed by U.S.

States parties: 71

Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture

Entered into force in 2006, never signed by U.S.

Number of states parties: 63

International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

Entered into force in 2010, never signed by U.S.

Number of states parties: 32 (91 have signed)

One could, of course, make the case that the fact that countries like Iran, North Korea, and Belarus have ratified many of these treaties suggests they don't actually accomplish very much. On the other hand, it doesn't look very good that the United States is considered a likely no vote when it comes to new human rights treaties, and at this point there's enough evidence from other states parties to suggest that ratifying an agreement on say, the rights of children, won't lead to U.N. bureaucrats telling parents how to raise their kids. 

*In fairness to South Sudan, it has only been a country for about 10 months.

Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images