How about the Monaco accord, my own peace plan

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After having received in the mail my own personal copy of the Geneva accords; watched as Israelis and Palestinians streamed off to unofficial peace conferences in Switzerland, London, Madrid and elsewhere; examined the various plans for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict put forward by Shinui, Ami Ayalon’s team, the settlers and numerous other groups; and seethed in frustration at the diplomatic standstill between the Sharon government and the Palestinian Authority — I have finally decided to take action.

What should we ordinary citizens do? Sign on to one of the many so-called Track II peace efforts now being promoted? But the choice is so confusing, and every one of them has its pluses and minuses.

I have a better idea. Each and every one of us must take matters into our own hands. It is now incumbent upon all Israelis (and Palestinians) to come up with our own, individualized, personal peace plans.

The first step in coming up with your peace plan is finding a proper name for it. I’m calling mine “The Monaco accord.”

Why Monaco? Well, there are reasons these agreements aren’t called “The Poughkeepsie Proposal” or “The Ipswich Initiative.” As you may have noticed, they’re usually named after European cities that, like Oslo and Geneva, both convey an image of neutrality and are pleasant places to visit.

Obviously, since a big attraction of these initiatives is free flight tickets sponsored by the European Union or other international bodies, you’ll want the signing ceremony in a place with some tourist appeal. Monaco, which I’ve been dying to visit for years, certainly fits that bill. And since local political representation is de rigueur at these events, there’s the added value of hanging out with princesses Caroline and Stephanie of Monaco, instead of the president of Bulgaria or whomever.

The next step in organizing your peace plan is finding an appropriate Palestinian to dialogue with. Unfortunately, all the moderate Palestinians (all three of them, to be exact) have already been booked by other Track II initiatives. In addition, I have to admit my personal contact with Palestinians is rather limited these days, especially since I was retired from reserve duty in the Israel Defense Force.

After giving the matter careful consideration, I decided to choose as my negotiating partner the one Palestinian with whom I am in closest daily contact — Mussa, the street cleaner employed by the municipality who gives me a friendly greeting every morning on my way to work.

Now I know what you’re thinking: What authority does Mussa have to negotiate for the future of the Palestinian state?

Well, since pretty much all the power lies in Yasser Arafat’s grubby hands anyway, I don’t see why Mussa has any less legitimacy to represent the Palestinians than the likes of Sari Nusseibeh or Yasser Abed Rabbo — or for that matter, why the Israeli side isn’t better served by myself than a political loser like Yossi Beilin.

The only real sticking point as regards Mussa is whether he can really be counted as a Palestinian, since he comes from one of those Arab neighborhoods in north Jerusalem whose inhabitants may or may not qualify for Israeli identity cards. But this problem is easily solved by ensuring that his village is among those included in the Palestinian state as part of our final-status agreement.

Now, let’s get to the substance of the Monaco accord. Just like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, I’m fully prepared to make “painful concessions” for the sake of peace, including the evacuation of some West Bank and Gaza settlements. In my plan, those specific settlements will be Neveh Dekalim, Ganei Tal, Avnei Hefetz, Alei Zahav, Talmon, Dolev and Emmanuel.

Why those? Simple; those are the settlements where I had to spend endless hours on guard duty doing my reserve duty the past dozen years — and now it’s payback time, fellas.

Of course, the Palestinians will also be called upon to make difficult compromises. I’ve already informed Mussa there is no chance he will get any “right of return” under the Monaco accord — except maybe to return to my street every morning to carry out his cleaning duties.

Perhaps the thorniest issue in all Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is the fate of the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims. Under the Monaco accord this problem is deftly solved by alternating authority over the site between Israel and the Palestinian Authority every day of the week.

They get it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and we get it Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. That leaves it open on Sundays for the Christians, on condition that they set aside special visiting hours that day for Buddhists, Hindus, Bahai, Moonies and atheist tourists.

I understand that these conditions may be a little hard for many of my fellow Israelis, and Mussa’s Palestinian brethren, to swallow. So prior to the signing of the Monaco accord, an extensive public relations campaign will be conducted on its behalf. Rather than just mail it to every Israeli household like the Geneva accord, Mussa and I will hand-deliver it to every home in the country, explain its details and offer free massages to anyone willing to support it.

When acceptance of the Monaco accord reaches a critical mass, we will move on to the actual signing ceremony, which will be a suitably top-notch, fully catered affair. Just as the Geneva accord signing had Richard Dreyfuss on hand as emcee, we will reach out to an appropriate Jewish Hollywood star to oversee the proceedings and lend it the proper gravitas. Our shortlist currently includes actress/shoplifter Winona (Horowitz) Ryder, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing, Internet pinup favorite Cyndy Margolis and those two hot chicks from “Showgirls” who I bet you didn’t know are Jewish, Gina Gershon and Elizabeth Berkley.

Naturally, time is of the essence. With the security situation deteriorating daily, it’s imperative that the Monaco accord be signed, sealed and delivered no later than September 2004, so that Mussa and I can meet the deadline to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (we’re talking a million bucks, people, not that money should be a consideration in the search for peace). Granted, it won’t be easy overcoming all the obstacles and minefields (and clichés) on the road to what Arafat memorably called “the peace of the braves.”

Plus, I expect stiff competition to the Monaco accord from the 9 million other personal peace initiatives Israelis and Palestinians will be putting forth in the next few months. But never underestimate the determination of a man with a plan. Just ask Yossi Beilin!

Calev Ben-David is managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. E-mail him at [email protected].