Is a peace agreement possible?
By Ted Belman
In this article I assume that this is a territorial conflict only, though I don’t believe it is. My right wing bloggers group consider the authors of this report to be peaceniks.
The Atlantic just published a report, Is Peace Possible. It uses a number of videos to indicate what both sides want and asks whether swaps can b ridge the gaps. It argues that the PA wants 100% of the territories and though Israel thinks it is entitled to all of it that Israel is trying to keep that part of J&S on which 75% of the settlers live including in Jerusalem, By its estimates there are 500,000 settlers and thus the suggestion is that Israel would have to remove 125,000 of them.
I disagree with this presentation for a number of reasons. In many cases the GOI is responsible for these errors.
1) The starting point is that Palestine consists of all the territories and Israel within the ’67 armistice lines. The land lying east of these lines together with Gaza equals 22% of these lands and the Palestinians want the equivalent of 100% of it. No where does it mention Res 242 which allowed Israel to keep some of the lands and to have secure boundaries. It simply says that the PA is adamant in getting 100%. Secondly, Mandate Palestine included Jordan which should be part of the territorial settlement because it is 70^ Palestinian and represents 78% of the Mandated land. How much easier would it be to arrive at a territorial settlement if Jordan was considered Palestine or gave up 15% of its land to the new Palestine thereby increasing it in size by 50%. I blame the Israel government for not insisting on the inclusion of Jordan and its land in the discussion.
2) It lumps together the “settlers” living in Jerusalem east of the armistice line but within the annexed Jerusalem. As I understand it they represent about 300,000 plus or minus 10%. The settlers in the territories also number 300,000 plus or minus 10%. Israel has long rejected uprooting 125,000 of them which is about 40%. I think that by keeping Ariel and Maaleh Adumin, this number would be reduced to under 75,000 which is still too big a number.
By not rejecting the peace process, Israel is opening accepting negotiations which aim to bridge the gap. Netanyahu is following in the footsteps of Barak and Olmert.
Netanyahu inherited the Shalit negotiations and once complained that he was dealt a lousy hand as though he couldn’t have started all over again. Similarly, he is not prepared to start all over again on peace negotiations and is prepared to play with the hand he was dealt. It too is a lousy hand.
He is foolish to think that by undermining Abbas, he will be getting a more flexible opponent.
Jeffry Golberg comments on this Report.
“The work here is rigorous and meticulous, but it is not without a bias — a useful bias, to my way of thinking: The people behind the project support a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis. Zvika Krieger, of the Abraham Center, writes about the underlying assumption of the project:
“The vast majority of both Israelis and Palestinians prefer this outcome (though doubt the commitment of the other side), and a similarly strong majority of both populations agree on the basic contours of the resolution. Creating an independent, viable state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is the only way that Israel can remain a democracy and a Jewish state, stem the tide of international delegitimization, and be secure in its borders while accepted in the region (as we discuss in the Security chapter). The majority of Palestinians and the current Palestinian leadership still see the two-state solution (which they officially accepted in 1988) as the most realistic path to a state of their own, though they are growing increasingly frustrated with the inability of negotiations to achieve that goal. An alarming number of them are beginning to wonder whether they should instead ask for equal citizenship in Israel — which, if granted, would end Israel’s Jewish majority.
Notice the reference to the frustration of the Palestinians without a mention where the blame lies for this frustration. Its like everyone sympathizes with the frustration because the poor Palestinians aren’t getting what they demand.