Friday, September 7, 2007

The Latest Israeli Peace Offer -- And Why, God Willing, It Will Not Work

The AP is reporting a proposed "deal" between Israel and the Palestinian, being floated by Israel.

All these deals are traps: If the Palestinians accept them, they lose; if they turn them down, they lose. If they accept them they lose because these deals will never be implemented, for a host of reasons, and then they will have made concessions for nothing.If they reject them then they are back to the image of the Palestinians who "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

Let us hope that making noises about peace is good for somebody else besides Olmert and Ramon. But I doubt it.

Of course, the worse-case scenario is that the leaders agree to this deal, and it is implemented. What a disaster that would be -- the creation of a non-militarized state in barely contiguous areas on less thant 20% of Palestine, which could not possibly hope to absorb its refugees, and which finds itself in an eternal neocolonial dependence to the settler state....

Not likely that it will happen, though. Glad to see that I can be in agreement with my rightwing critics on this one.

Report: Ramon offers PA West Bank pullout, territory exchange

By The Associated Press

A confidant of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered a broad West Bank pullout in talks with Palestinian leaders on a final-status peace deal, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Vice Premier Haim Ramon met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad and other officials in an effort to put together a joint Israeli-Palestinian declaration of principles that will be presented in November at a Mideast peace conference slated to be held in the U.S., Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported.

Ramon is offering the Palestinians an Israeli withdrawal from nearly the entire West Bank, including the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, as part of a final peace deal, according to the report by two respected correspondents for the mass circulation daily.

Tzahi Moshe, a spokesman for Ramon, would not comment on the report. Palestinian Information Minister Riad Malki denied that Ramon had met with Fayad or with any other Palestinian government officials.

According to the report's account of Ramon's offer, the border between Israel and the future Palestinian state will roughly follow the route of Israel 's West Bank security barrier, leaving major Israeli settlement blocs and between 3 and 8 percent of the West Bank in Israel's hands.

In return, Israel will cede to the same amount of land inside Israel to the Palestinians to make up for the annexed territory, the report said - possibly including a land corridor between the West Bank and Gaza, a central ongoing Palestinian demand.

Palestinians who became refugees when Israel was founded in 1948 will not be allowed into Israel, but only into the Palestinian state, and an international fund will be set up to pay for their rehabilitation. Holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City will be under the control of the various religions and no national flags will be flown, the report said.

Ramon's plan closely resembles an Israeli offer to the Palestinians at a failed peace summit in 2000. U.S. President Bill Clinton, who hosted the summit, later blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for rejecting the Israeli proposal, saying he missed the opportunity to create a Palestinian state. A new round of Israeli-Palestinian violence erupted not long afterward, lasting for most of the past seven years and claiming thousands of lives.

According to the Yediot report, Olmert approves of Ramon's negotiating activities. If the efforts succeed, the report said, Olmert will publicly adopt the results, and if they fail, he will portray them as a personal effort by Ramon.

Peace moves between Israel and the Palestinians have been intensifying since June, when the Islamic militants of Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip. Following the takeover, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah movement formed a government of Western-aligned moderates in the West Bank, winning broad backing from an international community eager prevent new gains for the Islamic hard-liners.

Hamas has remained largely isolated in Gaza.

Olmert and Abbas have met several times in recent months. Israel refused at first to discuss the three topics known as the core issues of the conflict - final borders, Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants. But the two leaders tackled those issues at their last meeting on August 28.

Damping hopes for a speedy Israeli pullout, however, are concerns that near-daily Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza, where Israeli forces pulled out two years ago, could be repeated in the West Bank if the army leaves security in the hands of Abbas' weak forces.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has warned that no West Bank pullout would be possible until Israel has developed a missile shield to counter rocket fire from the West Bank, which could threaten the country's population centers and paralyze its only international airport. Barak said this will take at least two and a half years.


Anonymous said...

the creation of a non-militarized state in barely contiguous areas on less thant 20% of Palestine, which could not possibly hope to absorb its refugees,

Its not Israel's fault that gaza and the westbank arnt connected. What should they get?

Anonymous said...

Jerry, can you clarify a bit more? I've only read the AP coverage that you posted so far but it sounds to me like the proposed deal is similar to the Geneva Accord. So have I misunderstood the content of the proposed deal, or do you think the Geneva Accord (or the Clinton parameters, or whatever) would lead to a barely contiguous state which couldn't hope to absorb the refugees? (The Internet doesn't afford tone of voice, so to clarify: I'm not just asking leading questions or being combative; I'd sincerely like you to explain further why this proposed deal falls short. I do understand your analysis of the dynamics of the lose-lose nature of the situation for Palestinians.)

Oh, and on the issue of non-militarized: when I spoke to Israeli Geneva Initiative people this summer they told us that their Palestinian counterparts supported the non-militarized clause because they realized they could never hope to compete militarily with Israel so it was actually in their interest to have military guarantees from other states and be able to spend what might go to the military on domestic spending instead.

Jerry Haber said...

Yours are weighty questions that deserve serious answers; I hope that I can clarify what I don’t like about Geneva at a later date. Don’t get me wrong - some of my best friends support Geneva. Menachem Klein, one of Geneva’s architects, says that its proposals are not written in stone, and that the framers tried very hard to get some of the Israeli military on board, and so some compromises had to be made. Even so, Geneva has not had a good reception in Israel, and it is viewed usually with derision as the product of a Tel-Aviv liberal elite.

Briefly, I don’t think that the division of land according to Geneva is equitable, and it creates difficulty of Palestinian movement. I think that Israel should give up all of its 1967 gains; if there are minimal adjustments (<1%), the Palestine state should get territory not only of equal acreage but of equal value. This is not only important for Palestinian expansion, but also because of the message it conveys – that the withdrawal is total. Needless to say, the justification for the land swap should not merely the lack of political will to move settlers. Why should the Palestinians pay that price?

Geneva, like the Clinton bridge proposals, accepts the liberal Zionist narrative that sees the Occupation of 67 as the root of all evils. It wants to set up a Palestinian state that will not constitute a security threat to Israel. That Israel would constitute a security threat to a Palestinian state is not even considered. Well, perhaps it is considered, but Palestinian security is farmed out to a multi-national force. That may be tolerable as an interim solution, but the goal should be one of parity between the states, if we are talking about a two-state solution. A secure Palestine alongside a secure Israel. Let Israel demilitarize.

A word about demilitarization. I find it is hard to talk to my leftwing friends about this because they are pretty anti-military. And I am not happy, to say the least, about the place of the Israeli military in Israeli society, the human and financial resources it takes. But as a Jew, I still feel great pride in their being a Israel Defence Force that can protect my people. (I would feel that pride even more if Israel became more democratic and all sectors of the society served in the army or in national service.) For better or for worse, people whose rights have been violated, and who are impotent, deserve an army not only to protect them, but to serve as a source of national pride. Without that, the temptation to form private armies and militias, not to mention terrorist cells, is great.

Not surprisingly, I have had more success in convincing neocons of the importance of a Palestine Defence Force than liberals, because the neocons understand the importance of an army for the national psyche.

The best thing would be, as Judah Magnes proposed, a joint Palestinian and Israeli defence force. But short of that, it would be better for the Palestinians to have a deterrent force that would give Israel pause if she wised to violate Palestinian sovereignty. Defense treaties with third parties to effect a balance of power with Israel is welcome, but not at the expense a PDF.

To allow the Israelis an army – one of the strongest in the world – and to deny that to the Palestinians sends the wrong message. It says to them: “You can have a state as long as you prove you are no threat to us. Because you have harmed our security in the past, you are the aggressor. Aggressor states are prevented from having armies. You have to prove yourself.”

David Ben-Gurion never would have accepted a state on those terms. Why should the Palestinians? Why should they need the permission of Israel to have an army? When did the Jews ask the Arabs for such permission?

I realize that the Palestinian leadership gave up the idea of a Palestinian army because of their weak negotiating position and their short-sightedness. I am willing to believe that that they think spending a lot of money on the army is a waste. If they gave it up, why should I insist upon it? That was what Benny Morris said to me when I told him how important a Palestinian army was. My response is that if the entire Palestinian people give it up, that is one thing. But, if I were a Palestinian, I would want my own defense force and not just a police force. I know what the IDF has meant to me, and to my children, all of whom, even my girls, though orthodox, served in it, two as officers, and one as a combat officer.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and enlightening. Thanks for taking the time to respond and I look forward to a post about Geneva in the future.