Israel Palestine Infos
May 4, 2013
No, We Can’t!
AN AMBASSADOR is an honest man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country, a British statesman famously wrote some 400 years ago. That is true, of course, for all diplomats.
The question is whether the diplomat lies only to others, or also to himself.
I am asking this these days when I follow the arduous efforts of John Kerry, the new American foreign secretary, to jump-start the Israeli-Arab “peace process”.
Kerry seems to be an honest man. A serious man. A patient man. But does he really believe that his endeavors will lead anywhere?
TRUE, THIS week Kerry did achieve a remarkable success.
A delegation of Arab foreign ministers, including the Palestinian, met with him
At the meeting, the ministers emphasized that the Arab Peace Initiative is still valid.
This initiative, forged 10 years ago by the then Saudi Crown Prince (and present
King) Abdullah, was endorsed by the entire Arab League in the March 2002 Summit
It will be remembered that soon after the 1967 war, the Arab Summit Conference
The Saudi initiative was reaffirmed unanimously in the 2007 Summit Conference in
The initiative says unequivocally that all Arab countries would announce the end
of the Arab-Israeli conflict, sign peace treaties with
As I wrote at the time, if anyone had told us in May 1967 that the Arab world would make such an offer, they would have been locked up in an institution for the mentally ill. But those of us who advocated the acceptance of the Arab initiative were branded as traitors.
In his conference with the Arab ministers this week, John Kerry succeeded in
pushing them a step further. They agreed to add that the 1967 Green Line may be
changed by swaps of territories. This means that the large settlements along the
border, where the great majority of the settlers reside, would be annexed to
WHEN THE initiative was first aired, the Israeli government was desperately looking for a way out.
The first excuse that sprang to mind – then as always – was the refugee problem.
It is easy to create panic in
Sharon, the Prime Minister at the time, willfully ignored the crucial clause
inserted by the Saudis into their plan: that there would be an “agreed”
solution. This clearly means that
Why did the initiative mention the refugees at all? Well, no Arab could
possibly publish a peace plan that did not
mention them. Even so, the Lebanese objected to the clause, because it would
leave the refugees in
But the refugees are always a useful bogeyman. Then and now.
ONE DAY before the original Saudi initiative
was submitted to the
The Israeli public was inflamed. Sharon immediately responded that In these circumstances, the Arab peace initiative would not even be considered. Never mind that the atrocity was committed by Hamas with the express purpose of sabotaging the Saudi initiative and undermining Arafat, who supported it. Sharon mendaciously blamed Arafat for the bloody deed, and that was that.
Curiously – or maybe not – a similar thing happened this week. On the very day
the upgraded Arab initiative was published, a young Palestinian killed a settler
with a knife at a checkpoint – the first Jew killed in the
The victim, Evyatar Borowsky, was the 31-year old father of five children –
usual for an orthodox man. He was a resident of the Yitzhar settlement near
Before the incident, Netanyahu had been hard at work to formulate a statement that would reject the peace initiative without insulting the Americans. After the killing, he decided that there was no need. The terrorist has done his job. (As an old Jewish saying goes: “The work of the righteous one is done by others”.)
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of the (nonexistent) negotiations
with the Palestinians, and President Shimon Peres welcomed the Arab statement.
But Livni’s influence in the government is next to nil, and Peres is by now a
IF THE American Secretary of State really believes that he can nudge our government slowly and gradually to “meaningful” negotiation with the Palestinians, he is deluding himself. If he does not believe it, he is trying to delude others.
There have been no real negotiations with the Palestinians since Ehud Barak came
back from the
Before that, there were no real negotiations either. Yitzhak Shamir announced that he was happy to negotiate for ever. (Shamir, by the way, declared that it was a virtue to “lie for the fatherland”.) Documents were produced and gathered dust, conferences were photographed and forgotten, agreements were signed and made no real difference. Nothing moved. Nothing - apart from settlement activity, that is.
Why? How would anyone entertain the belief that from now on everything would be different?
Kerry will elicit some more words from the Arabs. Some more promises from Netanyahu. There may even be a festive opening of a new round of negotiations, a great victory for President Obama and Kerry.
But nothing will change. Negotiations will just drag on. And on. And on.
For the same reason that there has been no movement in the past, there will be no movement in the future – unless…
UNLESS. UNLESS Obama takes the bull by the horns, which, it seems, he is exceedingly unwilling to do.
The horns of the bull are the horns of the dilemma, on which
It is the historic choice facing us: Greater
Peace, any conceivable peace, the very basis of the Arab Initiative, means Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories and the establishment of the State of Palestine in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem. No ifs, no buts, no perhapses.
The opposite of peace is Israeli rule over the whole of the land between the
Mediterranean Sea and the
If President Obama has the will and the power to compel the government of
If this will and this power do not exist, the whole great peace effort is an exercise in deception, and honorable men should not indulge in it.
They should honestly face the two sides and the world and tell them:
No, We Can’t.