Gershon Baskin is best-known as the man who helped negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit. As the co-chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information he runs ‘track one and a half’ negotiations.

‘Track one’ negotiations are run by the Israeli government. ‘Track two’ negotiations are run by unofficial organisations.

The middle ground of ‘one and a half’ talks are, according to Baskin, the only thing that can provide a government with “absolute deniability but an open line of communication“.

Today Baskin (@gershonbaskin) went on a tweeting spree (40 tweets in under 2 hours). His ideas to solve the conflict range from laughable (nos.6, 36, 40) to genius (nos.9, 10, 24, 29). No.8 is probably both. Whether you agree or not, you have to hand it to Baskin for thinking ‘outside of the box’ and suggesting ideas which few have dared to dream up before.

Here’s what he had to say:

  1. Balancing Israel’s security & Palestine’s sovereignty – joint patrols under Palestinian command along the Jordan River for agreed time frame
  2. Jerusalem-2 capitals,1 open city,sovereignty divided along demographic lines on the map,no walls or fences except around Old City-open 4 all
  3. E1 in Jerusalem becomes the international center where 190 countries build their Embassies to Israel and Palestine int’l orgs move to Jerus
  4. UNSC: Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty fulfill UN Res 181 – 2 states between river and sea -Jewish State (Israel) Arab state (Palestine)
  5. Israel and Palestine agree to protect and provide equal rights for national minorities within their states.
  6. Gaza-part of Palestinian state, but implemented when the regime there agrees to the terms of the agreement.Then watch intifada against Hamas
  7. No foreign troops, security must be responsibility of Israel & Palestine, but we need 3rd party monitors and verifiers of implementation
  8. 40 kilometer tunnel with high speed trains carrying passengers, cars and cargo between West Bank and Gaza – start building today from WB
  9. Trilateral Jordan-Israel-Palestine agreement on water, energy and environment
  10. permit system for Palestinians replaced with online application system for visa or work permit in Israel, loaded on smart phones or printed
  11. Israel & Palestine establish Cabinet Level Ministries of Peace responsible for all of the non-security aspects of agreement implementation
  12. 4% annexation by Israel = about 80% of settlers remaining where they are. 4% swap of uninhabited land inside of Israel add to Palestine
  13. settlers outside of annexed areas – move to annexed areas in Judea & Samaria, or come back to Israel, or become citizens of Palestine
  14. All Palestinian refugees can become citizens of Palestine forever&will receive compensation for real property losses and suffering
  15. Palestinian refugees will have additional choices to select (including Israel) all countries will specify number and they will chose.
  16. The limited number of refugees that Israel will agree to accept over 10 years will become full Israeli citizens, under Israeli law
  17. Israel will call the returning refugees “family reunification” Palestine will call it “right of return”
  18. In the past Canada offered to receive 100,000 Palestinian refugees, where will they chose – Tulkarem or Toronto – both begin with “t”
  19. Int’l compensation fund for Palestinian refugees with Israeli participation. All Palestinian refugees permitted to make their claims
  20. Launch building now,with int’l help 3 new cities like Modiin in area c for Palestinian refugees from Syria and Lebanon,bring them back first
  21. Palestinian state non-militarized, civil aviation agreement on civil airline routes for West Bank airport with joint security under Pal’s
  22. Continued Israeli electronic and drone surveillance over West Bank w/joint operation room and command w/ American monitors for agreed period
  23. electro-magnetic spectrum managed according to spectrum allocation rules of the int’l Telecommunications Union
  24. Joint water management regulatory body over bi-national or multi-national water company providing for all water needs for all people equally
  25. moving to peace education both sides now agree on same criteria for study on texts books, each on their own, complete study within 6 months
  26. Israeli incursions into area “a” end now, Palestinians act on Israeli intel and arrest suspects, indict if necessary, try and imprison
  27. Palestinians take seriously anti-terror chain from arrest to prison with due process and Israel ends incursions into Palestine
  28. This security cooperation is different than past because it is not protecting the occupation but the emergence of the Palestinian state
  29. 1600 Palestinian ITC graduates every year with no work experience. Israel companies exporting jobs to India and China -here is a great match
  30. today 100,000 Pals working in Israel – 55,000 w/permits, 26,000 in settlements, 20,000 illegal.1st 10 years of Pal state 200,000+ in Israel
  31. Israeli-Palestinian econ cooperation aimed at 7%+ annual GDP growth in Palestine. With US and EU help, not such a big challenge
  32. 1000 MW of solar energy in 5 years in Palestine providing 100% of Palestine’s energy needs making it lead the world in green energy
  33. In peace with security Palestinians have to know that the wall will come down. No terrorism = no wall.
  34. Eventually after peace treaty is ratified on both sides, Hamas will fall in Gaza. I look forward to using the Gaza airport – cheaper flights
  35. EU offered upgrading to Israel & Palestine, they should propose full state membership for both conditional on real peace between them
  36. here is a hard one: when peace is signed and ratified all Palestinian prisoner will be granted amnesty and freed
  37. the Jewish minority in Palestine will be treated by Palestine exactly as Israel treats the Palestinian minority in Israel
  38. When Jerusalem is the capitals of Israel& Palestine more than 150 countries will move their Embassies to the city
  39. When Israel is recognized as the Jewish nation state Israel will recognize itself the Jewish nation-state& the state of all of its citizens
  40. When peace treaty is ratified by Israeli and Palestinian people, at least 15 Arab League states will immediately recognize Israel.

Imposing all of these ideas on the region is an impossibility. Baskin is wildly optimistic but even he will concede that no one will agree with all 40 of his ideas. There’s some gold here (there’s no reason why his ideas on energy and water can’t be implemented immediately) and it’s great to see someone actually thinking about a solution rather than moaning about the problems.

When describing the present situation, ‘complicated’ is surely the most-used adjective. Saying you believe in a one state, two state or three state solution simply isn’t good enough. All 3 of those options are deeply flawed. It will take a man like Baskin to untangle the mess, think-smart and perhaps even salvage sinking peace talks. He’s not the Messiah, but his ideas are worth considering.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to imagine what this 40km tunnel (see no.8) from the West Bank to Gaza will look like… *scratches head*.

EDIT: A mere two minutes after I pressed ‘publish’ on this post, Mr Baskin started up again! Frankly I’m disappointed he’s ruined the biblically-significant number of 40, but perhaps he’ll make it to 777? Read the rest here.