February 20, 2017: Seeking a solution

"The 1993 Oslo Accords did not require a sovereign Palestinian-Arab entity."

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Seeking a solution
With regard to “Did Trump nix the 2-state solution?” (Analysis, February 17), the assertion that then-president Bill Clinton “wed the Israelis and Palestinians to the notion that the only resolution to the conflict is a two-state solution” flies in the face of historical factuality.
The 1993 Oslo Accords did not require a sovereign Palestinian-Arab entity. Indeed, several piquant appurtenances of that quaint model of failed-statebuilding were belied by none other than then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in his final address to the Knesset, in which he rejected the Green Line as indefensible and envisaged a permanent IDF presence in the Jordan Valley. And that was when peace was just beginning to “break out.”
Yaakov Katz (“Return of the Palestinian state,” Editor’s Notes, February 17) clearly thinks that he, like US ex-president Barack Obama, knows what the Saudis and Gulf states will find acceptable as a solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Indeed, he knows so much as to suggest that no wider deal between the Arab world and Israel is possible in the context of dealing with the Iranian threat to Sunni nations without a resolution of the conflict.
Clearly, Katz has learned nothing from eight wasted years. Obama made it perfectly clear that a two-state solution could be the only solution, yet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has continued to refuse to enter into any serious negotiations, being more interested in trying to obtain statehood by every other means, real or pretended, when negotiations are the only possible way.
President Donald Trump is now making it perfectly clear to Abbas that he has to negotiate or he’ll be left by the wayside.
If the Saudis and Gulf states have a real interest in seeing a Palestinian state, they will deliver the same message to Abbas. Otherwise, one must assume that they will act whichever way they think will be to their own benefit and not allow themselves to be held hostage to, and be defeated by, Palestinian intransigence.
Tel Aviv
US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are looking for an innovative and pragmatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here is a modest proposal.
Under the rubric of a multinational agreement between Israel and the Sunni-Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates), the territories of the West Bank could be governed by a joint Israeli-Arab peace force, the Arab component being represented mainly, if not entirely, by a Jordanian force. The whole arrangement would be negotiated with the US as guarantor.
Israel would be responsible for the Jewish settlements, and the Arab force would be responsible for the Palestinian towns and villages currently overseen by the Palestinian Authority. There would be joint jurisdiction in such areas as Hebron.
The area would be demilitarized apart from the joint Israel- Arab peace force. The arrangement could also involve land swaps to allow for both Israeli and Palestinian contiguity.
As for the Gaza Strip, it could be occupied and demilitarized by the Arab peace force without any Israeli presence, although this would require that Hamas gives up control to ensure a peaceful transition.
Ultimately, the arrangement might devolve into a confederation of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Each would retain its own sovereign government. There would be open borders for goods and people, but no rights to settle.
The main impediment would be the absence of will on the part of the Arab states to deal realistically with Israel, or a refusal by the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
It would be up to the Sunni Arab states to persuade the Palestinians to accept the agreement; in return, there would be a guarantee by the US and Israel that they would act to prevent either Iran or Islamic State from attacking or occupying their territory, as Israel did for Jordan in 1970, with US support, when the Jordanians were threatened with invasion by Syria.
Drawing attention
You report “IKEA creates haredi catalogue” (News in Brief, February 16) in response to “requests” the company received. IKEA said it “decided to launch a catalogue that allows the religious and haredi community to enjoy looking at the products and solutions that IKEA offers, and to do so in accordance with their lifestyles.”
In other words, it saw the catalogue as a way to increase its customer base.
The publication will have no effect on the non-haredi sector, so why did you find it necessary to draw attention to it? As your reporter writes, “The absence of women from haredi newspapers, websites and other forms of media has become a well known and now almost unremarkable phenomenon.”
We don’t have to approve of the phenomenon, but why should IKEA be pilloried for it? I always thought that tolerance of others’ differing lifestyles where they do not affect us was the hallmark of a mature and liberal democracy.
Surely there is enough factionalism in Israeli society without inciting denunciations of the supposed bigotry of the haredi world for attitudes to women.
Salford, UK
Suspect criticisms
Gershon Baskin begins his highly critical column “The fatal Israeli-Gaza mistakes” (Encountering Peace, February 16) by observing that the selection of Yahya Sinwar, radical head of the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, as Hamas’s new leader in the Gaza Strip was “not surprising.” He then says that Sinwar was “the most important prisoner released by Israel in 2006.”
Unfortunately, Baskin obscures his own responsibility for Sinwar’s freedom and ascendancy.
Sinwar received four life sentences in 1989 for terrorist activities, including masterminding the murder of Israeli soldiers. He became what Yossi Melman described in “A charismatic enemy” (Analysis, February 14) as “the undisputed leader of the thousands of Hamas inmates in Israeli jails” and one who called for “an uncompromising military confrontation with Israel.”
Instead of serving his full sentence, Sinwar was among more than 1,000 Palestinians released in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit in 2011. Baskin knows this because he often describes himself as the initiator and negotiator of the secret back-channel for the release of Gilad Schalit, and wrote a book called The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas.
Sinwar is just one of many Palestinians freed in the Schalit deal who have returned to terrorism. Baskin was intimately involved in their release, putting Israelis at greater risk of attack, yet he fails to mention these facts in his column.
It is time to recognize that while sometimes emotionally satisfying, trading such prisoners unquestionably harms the Israeli public. Having been less than transparent regarding the facts of Sinwar’s imprisonment and release, Baskin’s criticisms of Israel’s actions are suspect.
Skokie, Illinois
Call for prudence
With regard to “Four held in crane collapse” (February 15), one accident is, of course, one too many, and we can only deplore that it did happen. Yet considering the impressive number of cranes we have seen now for many a year, the number is remarkably low.
Still, it must entice our construction companies to be even more prudent and careful in the future.
Tel Aviv
In the February 17 Jerusalem Post Magazine, the crossword puzzle was inadvertently printed twice on the page. We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience.