Euronews had early access to the 10-point roadmap that Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, has prepared to pave the way for a “credible, comprehensive solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The document, which has not yet been made public and is set to be discussed by the bloc’s foreign ministers during a meeting on Monday, outlines a series of procedural steps that Borrell believes could eventually bring peace to the Gaza Strip, establish an independent Palestinian state, normalise relations between Israel and the Arab world, and guarantee long-term security in the region.
Its centrepiece is a “Preparatory Peace Conference” involving “key actors” such as the EU, the US, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Arab League and the United Nations. The participants would be in constant touch with Israeli and Palestinian officials, referred to as “the conflict parties,” but the two would not initially “be compelled to sit with each other.”
The Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be represented by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), rather than Hamas, which has ruled the strip since its 2007 takeover and is designated a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US.
The Conference would have one year to design the framework for a peace plan, taking into account the feedback from all involved parties, UN resolutions, European Council conclusions and previous mediation efforts. Once ready, the plan would be presented to the “conflict parties” and be used as the main basis for the final negotiations.
“In view of the current situation and despite the evident difficulties and uncertainties, the time to prepare for (a) comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace is now,” the paper, as seen by Euronews, says in its introduction.
The revelation comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a blistering rejection of the two-state solution and vowed to continue the military offensive in Gaza until the destruction of Hamas and the release of all hostages.
“We will not settle for anything short of an absolute victory,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu’s remarks cast a shadow over Borrell’s proposal and the upcoming meeting of EU foreign ministers, where the Israel-Hamas war will be top of the agenda. Despite repeated pleas from Western allies, Israel has not made any overture that indicates it is ready to cease hostilities and give diplomacy a serious chance.
The offensive, launched in reaction to the 7 October attacks by Hamas, has killed more than 24,000 Palestinians, including over 10,000 children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. The war has also caused widespread devastation and a severe humanitarian crisis in the densely-populated enclave.
“At this point in time, Israeli officials don’t talk about the two-state solution. They only talk about the war. They only talk about the military objective of destroying Hamas,” a senior EU official said on Friday, reflecting the thinking in Brussels.
“We have to deal with that. It’s our responsibility, our duty, to look beyond that.”
Borrell’s scheme attempts to put that duty on paper.
Although the roadmap does not pre-judge the substance of a potential peace plan, it does provide a coherent timeline to organise a potential peace process. Its goal is not just ending the present war but addressing root causes that have fuelled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the past seven decades.
However, it is far from certain that the 27 member states will embrace the blueprint, as capitals remain divided over how to tackle, or even speak about, the conflict.
Roadmap for peace
In the document seen by Euronews, the 10 points are envisioned as such:
- The process should lead to an independent Palestinian State “living side by side” with Israel and “full normalization” of relations between Israel and the Arab world.
- International actors should help the two parties prepare the groundwork for peace and help build a “revitalized political alternative” to Hamas.
- International actors should “at the earliest” hold a Preparatory Peace Conference to settle the ongoing war and, especially, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- The Conference should bring together foreign ministers and directors of international organisations to discuss the peace process while they “near-simultaneously” hold separate meetings with the conflict parties.
- The Conference should set up working groups and design the “initial framework” for a peace plan within one year.
- The plan should touch upon “as practically as possible” the central elements for a comprehensive peace, building upon previous UN resolutions and mediation efforts.
- The plan should provide “robust security assurances” for Israel and the future Palestinian state, “conditional upon full mutual diplomatic recognition and integration of both Israel and Palestinian in the region.”
- The Conference should consult the conflict parties “at every step and at any time” while the peace plan is being crafted. Crucially, if either side decides to pull out, the work should continue nevertheless.
- Once ready, the plan should be presented to Israelis and Palestinians. “It will be for them to negotiate the final text,” the document says.
- In parallel to the process, the participants in the Conference should strive to mitigate the ongoing humanitarian crisis, secure the release of Israeli hostages, prevent regional escalation, strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s democratic legitimacy and support the reconstruction of Gaza, among other goals.