Monday, February 14, 2011

The Peace Agreement that was Never Near

I recently linked to Bernard Avishai's description of the Israel-Palestinian negotiations of 2007-8. I was wary of Avishai but willing to accept most of the facts he presented. Sol Stern has now had a closer look, and says the facts either aren't new, or aren't true. Ron Radosh has some further comments (see the lower section of his article).


NormanF said...

Yaacov, the uncontested truth is Olmert never heard back from the Palestinians. He told Abu Bluff to sign the deal, no future Israeli government would offer the Palestinians a better one.

Abu Bluff never got back to him. And today under less auspicious circumstances, the Palestinians refuse to negotiate at all with Israel.

Let's record that for posterity.

Y. Ben-David said...

I have been repeatedly asking Avishai, over at his blog, three questions he should have asked Olmert if the agreement was as close as Avishai and Olmert claim it was. I repeat them here (I hope Yaacov won't mind...there are bloggers who object to multiple postings of comments at different sites):

(1) If they were so close to an agreement, why didn't Olmert hold off the war with HAMAS? He could have told his cabinet that was pushing for military action that they were on the verge of an historic peace agreement and a war would put it on ice. Why, I ask?

(2) If they were so close to an agreement, why didn't Abbas, Olmert and Livni call a press conference during the election campaign and tell the voters that an historic agreement was within reach and the people of Israel should vote for KADIMA which was a vote for peace. Why?

(3) If they were so close to an agreement, why wasn't Obama informed and then encouraged to make the final, minimal steps needed for the agreement and then impose it on Israel, telling the people of Israel that peace was here? Instead, Obama wasted his time, energy and political capital on the settlement freeze, something that was TOTALLY SUPERFLUOUS since Avishai, Olmert and Abbas tells us that the settlements, except for Ariel were not an issue any more since they were either going to be plowed under or accepted by the Palestinians. Why, why, why?
If we receive no answer to these questions, the only conclusion I can come to is that someone here is deceiving the public.

Y. Ben-David said...

I am now posting another comment I made over at Avishai's site (I hope Yaacov doesn't mind) which is a question about how Avishai's suggestion that mere "technical matters" divide the two sides, or how Obama can simply "split the difference" over disagreements. The question involves the arrangement to put Jerusalem under "international control" with a "neutral foreign force" in charge of security:

It seems Bernie and I read totally different things in his article. This is not a plan for peace, it is a recipe for endless war. The genius of using "creative" solutions which fudge the issues are a guaranteed plan for endless violent conflict.

Let's look at Jerusalem, for example. Either 5 or 7 nations will administer it. Three or four Arab countries, Israel, the US and maybe the Vatican. For example, what will be the situation of Jewish holy sites like the Western Wall? The Muslims will insist that the situation that existed before 1948 be restored. That means recognition of the Western Wall as a MUSLIM HOLY SITE that Jews are allowed, UNDER RESTRICTED CONDITIONS to pray at. This was the situation the British set up after the 1929 riots which were started after the Jews set up a partition between men and women.
SO, in the era of "peace" the Muslims will demand this. They will also demand that the Western Wall Plaza, which had Arab homes in it prior to 1967 be rebuilt, as part of the "right of return". How will the international committee deal with this? Well, we have 3 or 4 automatic votes for the Arab side (Jordan, the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia), one vote for the Jewish side (Israel) and the US vote will be neutral. SO the Arabs get their way and there goes the Jews main holy site.
Who will guarantee what little access the Jews have at the site? A "neutral" international force . What countries will man this force? When the inevitable Arab assualts on Jew's at the Wall or on their way to and from the Wall or Jewish Quarter begin, how will it be decided to deploy the force in their defense? Will the Saudis, Jordanians and Palestinians demand that security be provided for the Jews? If the security situation collapses completely, would Israel be willing to go to war in order to guarantee access? After most of the people who go to the wall are what Bernie calls "Judeans", not what he considers to be "real Israelis" so people of his views aren't going to think a war is worth defend something they don't care about anyway.

Obviously this is a plan, a CREATIVE plan designed to drive the Jews completely out of their holy places.
This is merely one example of the myriad catastrophes that would come out of Olmert's plan. Did he really think he could impose this fraud on the people of Israel? Does Bernie think Obama can do it?

Barry Meislin said...


Y. Ben-David said...

You just beat me by a couple of minutes in posting that very important article! I will reproduce what I was going to write anyway:

Here is an article explaining the Palestinian refusal to recognize the historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. So given that Olmert was going to hand over the Jewish holy places to a "neutral international body" with a majority of Arab members, (according to Avishia's article), it must be INEVITABLE that division of the city would lead to the Arabs driving the Jews away from the Western Wall and the other Jewish holy places. I am amazed that Olmert would agree to such a thing.

Barry Meislin said...

My gut feeling is that Olmert understood that the Palestinians would never accept anything he proposed.

For what it's worth (keeping in mind that is consistent with my own views and so may not be worth much....)

The peace talks were a distraction, a deception on Olmert's part. Everything Olmert said---once again, in my view---was stated with the express intention of distracting everyone else from his culpability, from his guilt, from his sheer sleaziness.

(To be fair, there are those who have labeled him an exemplary Prime Minister---one of Israel's best...)

Understand: This does not mean that he did not negotiate in good faith. It means that (in my view) he didn't believe that anything he offered would---could---be accepted.

But he insisted on trying (for the reasons described above, and because it was good policy, and because he had to, given the realities of the I/P "peace process"---look, for example, at the ire that's being directed at
Bibi and Lieberman for enunciating simple truths.).

To repeat: from where I stand, everything having to do with peace talks, whether it had to do with the Syrians, the Palestinians, whomever, was a distraction.

But I don't believe that Olmert was untrustworthy in this regard (I may be wrong on this, of course); it is that Olmert, knowing that there was no chance for an agreement, kept on adding inducements, pledges, offers---just as the Palestinians would have expected him to do, just as they would have demanded of him. But having said that, I understand that the whole "peace process" has a seductive dynamic of its own and as one gets into the excitement of its potential "success," can accelerate like a runaway train. Perhaps an apt analogy might be a gambling at a casino, or a (romantic) engagement that should never have been made in the first place, but once made, and once the wedding invitations have been sent out and the gifts begun to pile in and the parties celebrated develops a momentum of its own... until one partner (or both of them)ask themselves, "What the #$%&@ are we doing?" and the engagement is broken off, sometimes even hours before the wedding is scheduled to take place.

(Hey, guess what I think of Ehud Omert! Though, in the interest of truth, I must confess that---for reasons best known to me---I voted for him....or would it be more correct to say that I voted for Kadima?...but just once. Once was certainly enough....)


To get back to the article I linked to: it demonstrates clearly, to anyone who bothers to pay attention, why the peace process, so-called, with the Palestinians is a hoax, has been a hoax, and was a hoax.

From Day 1.

It also demonstrates what most Israelis following the initial euphoria and the long, long time it took for that euphoria to face, would be willing in an instant to agree to sign on the dotted line with any Palestinians who would make the right sounds.

Yes, even now. Even after we see what "peace" with Egypt has been and may prove to be even further. Ditto for peace with Jordan.

On the other hand---and the Palestinians, I believe, know this: all of this is academic. Israel will be forced to make a "peace" deal with the Palestinians (a deal that the Palestinians will never accept). For if Israel does not do this, then such a "refusal"---actually, such an inability---will justify the final jettisoning of the Jewish State by the (need I say, "principled") countries of the world. (The reason---one reason; the main reason---why the Palestinians will not agree to anything.) that the Palestinian demand that Israel either agree to dismantle itself peacefully or agree to have itself destroyed (not so peacefully) will come to pass.

Barry Meislin said...


"...for that euphoria to face..."

should be:

"...for that euphoria to fade..."