Wednesday, July 15, 2009

September 13th

September 13 1993 was the day on which the first Oslo Agreement was signed, on the lawn of the White House, amid great hopes for a better future that were eventualy to lead to great suffering and widespread death of innocents. How symbolic, then, that it was a September 13th, this time 2008, on which Israel's Prime Minster offered the Palestinian President more than he was mandated to offer; and the Palestinian turned him down.

I've written about this before, as the story has been coming to light over the past few weeks. Aluf Benn, however, has the most detailled description I've seen so far, and it should be widely read.
Political debate aside, the essential lesson from Olmert's proposal is that the parties' stances have hardly changed since the failures of Camp David and Taba. Nine years of war, diplomatic standstill and thousands killed on both sides have not softened them. The Palestinians have not given in and Israel has not broken. Apparently a compromise can be reached on borders, but Israel does not want Palestinians to return to its territory and the Palestinians want the Temple Mount. Neither side is prepared to give up its national symbols and tell its people that the pledges of the past - "we will return to our villages in Palestine" and "united Jerusalem in Israel's hands forever" - were just illusions.
Benn is not being accurate. Israel - or rather, Olmert, speaking within his legal brief but well beyond any public one - did change Israel's position. He was willing to relinquish Israeli control over any part of the Old City in Jerusalem, a position taken by no one previously. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are still exactly where they were when they rejected having a sovereign state in the summer of 2000: There has to be a Right of Return (=no Jewish Israel), and they must be in full control of the Haram al-Sharif because it isn't the Temple Mount (=no Jewish historical legitimacy, and rejection of the fundamental tenet of Zionism).


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Working in the financial disaster of the last 2 years has really brought clarity into my life.

I realized there are certain things in the world which I cannot change, hence the saying "It is what it is."

"It is what it is" applies here, too.