burnins issues 41

October 10, 2007 09:37


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Daniel Pipes: No significant peace process exists now, nor has it ever. Israel's signing of a diplomatic agreements with Egypt (1979), Lebanon (1983), the PLO (1993), and Jordan (1994) all proved ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. Preliminary skirmishes suggest that the usual pattern will hold in Annapolis. The Israeli side makes 'painful concessions' the Arab interlocutor imperiously disdains these even as terrorism and other forms of violence continue. Jerusalem responds with several more rounds of ever-more painful concessions until finally the Arab side grudgingly accepts them, offering airy promises of 'peace' that promptly turn into just the opposite - greater levels of hostility and violence. It's a mug's game that next month will mark its 30th anniversary. The Israeli body politic still has not wised up, much less all those do-gooder mediators, to what I have dubbed the 'war process.' As the spectacle resumes next month, one braces, prepares for the worst, and hopes for only limited damage from this iteration. MJ Rosenberg: Concessions? Wrong word. The Palestinians are obligated to agree to measures that guarantee Israel's security while the Israelis are obligated to end the occupation. These are not concessions; they are simply what each side is required to do by international law, common sense, and self-preservation. If the United States plays the role it played under Carter, Bush I and, to a lesser extent, Clinton, there will be significant progress. If the United States just sits there, there will be none. It's up to Bush and Rice. Olmert and Abbas desperately want a successful summit but both need to be able to tell their constituencies that the "concessions" they made were due to United States insistence. Michael Freund: What we are witnessing is neither a peace process nor a diplomatic undertaking, but rather a unilateral capitulation by Israel's government. Formal negotiations have not even begun, and yet various Israeli officials have already publicized the wide-ranging concessions they are prepared to make to the Palestinians on a host of red-line issues, ranging from dividing Jerusalem to withdrawing from large parts of Judea and Samaria. This is not only bad strategy, but lousy tactics as well. Why on earth would anyone see fit to show all his cards before entering into a give-and-take, rather than waiting to see what the other side has to say? What sense is there in creating international expectations regarding Israel's positions on key issues even before the talks have begun? After the disastrous pullout from Gush Katif two years ago, which has brought much of southern Israel under daily rocket attack, it would be fool-hardy for the Jewish state to even consider turning over additional territory to Palestinian control. Moreover, the government has no right to uproot still thousands of more Jews from their homes or to give up any part of the Land of Israel. It is clear that Mr. Olmert, who is under a series of police investigations for possible corruption even as he awaits the final report of the Winograd Commission on last year's Lebanon war, is looking for a way to save his political skin - even if it means causing damage to the country and its interests. One can only hope that the other members of his government will wake up in time to stop this mad rush toward an agreement. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has proven himself to be an ineffective and largely irrelevant leader, and there is no point in forging a deal with someone who is neither capable nor willing to carry it out. Jonathan Rosenblum: Anyone who entertains hopes for next month's Annapolis summit is a candidate for commitment to the looney bin. The tenor of Palestinian statements over the past few weeks alone makes clear that nothing beneficial can take place. The Palestinians threaten not to attend unless agreement has been reached in advance on all major issues. And that agreement must, in addition, be in accord with the long-standing Palestinian positions - e.g., a full Israeli return to the 1967 borders, including in Jerusalem and its environs. In effect, the Palestinians are demanding that solutions that have repeatedly eluded all would-be peacemakers for decades suddenly be found, and on their terms. The Palestinians are acting as if "peace" is only of benefit to Israel. And by failing to respond to these incessant demands, Olmert only reinforces that perception. The great fear is that he might feel inclined to make Fatah's day for his usual tawdry personal reasons. Meanwhile there is nothing about the current Fatah leadership to remotely suggest that they are capable of delivering on any agreement or that they have embarked on any of the steps required under the Roadmap as a prelude for final status negotiations, including combating terrorism and ending incitement against Israel and Jews in the official media and educational system. At a time when even Palestinians rate the Israeli "occupation" as a low level concern, the scheduled summit is a recipe for disaster on a level of Camp David, embarked on by three weak parties each for interests far from the actual attainment of peace. The energies would be far better directed to building up Palestinian civil society on the West Bank. Stewart Weiss: Advance indications suggest that the coming "peace forum" at Annapolis will, like the previous ones at Camp David and Sharm e-Sheikh, be "dead a bornin'." The Palestinians have already staked out maximalist positions - including control of half of Jerusalem and some form of the right of return - that will (hopefully) be rejected either by our government or by the electorate. The Palestinians, despite all the foreign pressure upon them and all the semi-promises they whisper from time to time, have never really budged from their long-standing determination to budge not an inch, and to insist that all concessions must come from the Israeli side of the table. For the Palestinians, the only allowance they are prepared make - and grudgingly, at that - is to admit that Israel exists and is entitled to security within negotiated boundaries. That, for them, is a major concession that goes against their founding principal that Israel is a foreign, alien body in a Muslim/Arab Middle East, and as such must be eradicated. While Israel would gladly welcome such a legal, binding declaration - disseminated in plain, Arabic language - that can only be a starting point for negotiations, not the sum total of all the Arabs are prepared to give.

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