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.