Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Negotiations for real?

Haaretz is very optimistic this morning: Olmert can cobble together 70 MKs (out of the necessary 61) to authorize an agreement with the Palestinians that would give them 100% of the West Bank including land swaps so that some Jewish settlements would remain Israeli, and some towns of Arab Israelis would become Palestinian. I think they're right that were such an offer on the table, a large majority of Israelis could be convinced to support it, if they thought it would bring peace. I've never heard that the Israeli Arabs slated to be re-defined into Palestine would be willing to accept this, but who know? Life can be full of surprises.

On the other hand, it was only yesterday (!) that the very same place in Haaretz - the top of page 1 - told the opposite story. Yesterday they were informing us that

The Palestinian Authority's security organizations are unable to assume security control of cities in the West Bank, Prime Minister Salam Fayad told senior Israeli officials during recent meetings. Fayad told Israeli officials that the PA's security forces are unable "to impose law and order in the West Bank at this time."

How do we align yesterday's pessimism with today's optimism? I have no explanation, save to suggest that we'll definitely hear more about all this - oceans of ink, they used to say - before... well, before we hear even more about it.


Lydia McGrew said...

The linked ("optimistic") story actually says 100% of the territory captured during the 1967 war. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that this ostensibly includes East Jerusalem?

Yaacov said...

I doubt it. When Israelis talk about the West bank, they don't refer to Jerusalem, though the Palestinians do. So even when far left-wing Israelis says we should return to the Green Line of pre-June 1967 (or swap some areas), they generally mean East Jerusalem not included, and then their position is that the Arab parts of East Jerusalem should be Palestinian while the Jewish parts remain Israeli.

Lydia McGrew said...

Are the Arab parts of East Jerusalem all concentrated in one area or something, which makes them think this latter idea might be workable?

Yaacov said...

Nope. There is no sane line one could draw between the Arab and Jewish sections of Jerusalem. In some places the line would run between adjacent buildings, often it would run right down the middle of a street or the middle of a block, and in some cases, most notably in the Old City, it would run between floors of apartment buildings, with the Arabs on the ground floor and the Jews upstairs. None of this ever fazes any of the many pundits, politicians, dilomats, self-annointed statesmen, and others from assuring us that dividing Jerusalem along ethinc lines will be an essential, indeed, inescapable, part of the making of peace. Sort of like the entire educated class knowing that Gallileo's invention of a telescope couldn't be showing what it was showing because everyone knew otherwise - except that in Jerusalem you don't need any new-fangled telescope. Merely common sense.

Lydia McGrew said...

Gosh. I think maybe I know now what Haaretz was talking about a week or two ago, then, when they talked about a peace plan involving having the Palestinians' "be able to declare Jerusalem as their capital" in virtue of including some parts of East Jerusalem. Maybe it was supposed to include some of those apartment building floors... :-)