United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has had an epiphany - just four days after declaring on 8 February that there was no plan B to replace the UN-endorsed Israel-PLO two-state solution: Creating a second Arab State – in addition to Jordan – in the territory comprised in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.
On 12 February Guterres spoke positively of a new grassroots Plan B - "The Holy Land Confederation" - creating an Israeli-Palestinian confederation - after meeting with its authors in New York.
Creation of The Holy Land Confederation involves:
- the Palestine Liberation Organisation leadership (PLO) and the Israeli government negotiating a confederal peace agreement within one year on the future borders of the two States and on a future confederation - including its potential evolution and further stages of liberalization over another four years
- If no confederal agreement is reached within one year then negotiations for a Peace Agreement will center on the two state solution only.
The authors of the confederation have conceded:
No formal confederations exist today, and the few states that call themselves a "confederation" are in fact federations (p.91)
Yet this pie in the sky, vague and nebulous confederation proposal has been deemed significant enough for Guterres to give it his endorsement.
Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric said after the 12 February meeting:
The secretary-general received [former Israeli justice minister] Yossi Beilin and [former Palestinian negotiator] Hiba Husseini, who presented him with their report on the 'Holy Land Confederation' process ... He thanked them for their useful contribution to try and achieve a lasting solution to the conflict...
The meeting with Guterres lasted just 40 minutes and included four of Guterres' advisers. Guterres reportedly said the plan could perhaps help revive the peace process - expressing regret at the absence of negotiations.
Beilin reportedly said he asked Guterres if the confederation plan could be included in Guterres' talking points with leaders in the region and if Guterres could help the group use the UN platform for debates and discourse on the confederation:
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