Palestine Now!!!

The obstacles to a viable Palestine that can function as a good neighbor to a good neighbor Israel, are mostly gone.

In an article in today’s New York Times Magazine, Bernard Avishai described that the differences between what Ehud Olmert (with support from Kadima leader Tzipi Livni) proposed and what the Palestinian Authority proposed were insignificant, that with skillful guidance and assurance by the United States, the differences could be bridged.

Specifically, both the PA and Israel proposed equal land to the 1967 “borders” (actually the 1949 armistice lines), with the PA proposing 1.9% of land swapped, and Olmert proposing 6.3%, to allow incorporation of large West Bank settlements in Israel, in exchange for other land in the Galilee and elsewhere to Palestine.

This touchable breach occurred even after the violence of Hamas’ post cease-fire rocket firings, and Israel’s excessive Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

But since then, Olmert was removed in a corruption scandal, and although Kadima received the largest bloc of knesset seats in February 09 elections, they couldn’t construct a coalition government. Likud could and did, a right-wing government, expansionist in spite of the undeniable reality that Israel could not remain Zionist and democratic if it continued to annex/occupy the West Bank (and Gaza). Although Likud presents itself as Jewish and democratic (an #and# statement), it continues to promote settlement expansion that conflicts with the #and# democratic component. (I personally favor a mix of DEMOCRATIC #and# Jewish majority).

The left, Palestinian solidarity movement, and now Al Jazeera, declare the two-state approach as dead. With the release of wikileaks and the Palestinian Papers (similarly disclosing diplomatic correspondence), the PA is described as betraying the Palestinian people, in their obvious sincerity to compromise, to ACCOMPLISH a Palestinian state that is a good neighbor to a good neighbor Israel.

The completion of the circuit is palpable.

There are really only a couple alternatives to negotiated agreement based on the green line.

One is UN recognition of Palestine at the green line. (That will get close, but ultimately not happen.) If that resulted in Israel ceasing settlement expansion, and earnestly participating in negotiations, that would be wonderful outcome. But, that would take Netanyahu “throwing ahead of the receiver”. His stock in trade is caution, a conflict.

Another option is international public opinion and Palestinian civil uprising resulting in Israelis leaving the West Bank. That results in a militant Palestine, not a good neighbor to good neighbor relationship, and ultimately war in the future. If things turn for the worst with the recent uprising in Egypt, and change in government in Lebanon, then Israel will be surrounded, and get more “cautious” than trusting in all other relations.

The third option is advocacy of a single-state, or bi-national state (hard to know if that means a Vermont/New Hampshire relationship of two self-governing states in a federation or a single state comprised of two factions like Lebanon – Lebanon has more than two factions, not an exact parallel.) The single state means the end of Zionist Israel, and there is very very little support for that concept among Israelis. The international movement of BDS (boycott/divestment/sanctions) of Israel is often associated with the single state proposal.

The proponents of BDS range from articulate, politically and morally aware idealists, seeking human rights for Palestinians that does not imply the dissolution of Israel, to Palestinians and solidarity that regard the creation of Israel originally as an “original sin” that only return to Palestinian sovereignty and collective Palestinian title can remedy.

Those that regard democracy, consent of the governed, as a present phenomena reject the “original sin” thesis and implications. “Original sin” is state of walking apology, permanent subordination and moral debt.

The significance of completing the two-state negotiations NOW, and doing whatever it takes to get there, is that the “original sin” is closed. The rational argument that the “nakba continues” is put to rest. The nakba becomes an event that occurred 63 years ago, only, OVER.

I recommend that Israel accept the latest PA proposal. (The PA submitted a formal document proposing specific borders, and reported to propose a solution on Jerusalem, and limited right of return and funding of development for former Palestinian refugees.) Israeli diplomats did not even agree to receive the sealed proposal. In contrast, my view is that the PA has demonstrated SUCH good faith, that any proposal that would present at this point would be viable. It would not be the 11th hour cliffhanger negotiation for advantage and vanity that Netanyahu always does.

But, it would get the job done.

A proposal agreed to by the PA and Israel would still have to be ratified by the knesset (and by knesset legislation by a majority of Israeli citizens), and by the Palestinian legislature and citizenry (possibly including diaspora Palestinians). That is a big nut to crack.

But, to not forge a peace agreement while Abbas and Fayyad still have power, is to risk it ALL. The consequences of not accomplishing an agreement for Israel are permanent pariah status, likely at some point losing even the support of the United States, alone in a rationally angry world. For vanity, putting another 6 million Jewish civilians at risk (not that a genocide is anticipated, just a civil war with potentially WMD’s in play.)

All when a sure thing fifty fifty split is on the table.

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18 Responses to Palestine Now!!!

  1. fuster says:

    Would a deal with the PA really get a deal done?
    Or would Hamas denounce the deal and keep the pot boiling?

    • Koshiro says:

      Neither can Hamas prevent a peace deal that is accepted by the large majority of Palestinians, nor can the PA enforce a deal that is not.

  2. Any proposal is only a proposal. It takes ratification. As the US Constitution took a few years to be ratified, its likely that such a permanent burying of the hatchet would take some time as well.

    There will always be people and organizations that sincerely oppose a proposal, and people and organization that do so for opportunism.

    I’m hoping that Palestinians and Israelis will see two things once a proposal is presented:
    1. That peace is overwhelmingly preferable to animosity and war.
    2. That militants are opportunists, seeking to impose, rather than facilitate discussion and free reasoning and choice.

  3. Koshiro says:

    “Bernard Avishai described that the differences between what Ehud Olmert (with support from Kadima leader Tzipi Livni) proposed and what the Palestinian Authority proposed were insignificant”

    He’s wrong, though. He just concentrates on the territorial issue and pretends that the gaps were bridgeable, fixated on seemingly low percentage numbers. He pretty much brushes aside the important issues of border controls, Palestinian military forces, water, internal Palestinian sovereignty, airspace and refugees. He seems to just assume that a) Abbas and the PA can be somehow battered into submission and accept a nonsovereign client territory as a “state” and that b) the Palestinian people will just follow their leaders in this. Not likely:

    • He actually clarified that those issues were discussed, mostly agreed.

      Its up to the parties to determine if they are introducing a proposal or not. What activists state is interesting, but only that.

      • Koshiro says:

        You may not have noticed the poll of Palestinians that I linked to, but just to tell you the most important point: There is no single feature of proposed peace deals that Palestinians stronger oppose than demilitarization. (70% are opposed to this.) If Avishai correctly portrayed Abbas as agreeing with Israel’s “security” demands in this regard – and I have my doubts on that – then it’s not ominous “activists” who are out of touch, but the PA. (As well as Avishai and you, who I guess qualify as activists.)

        Now pray tell: Do you think that a deal to which the vast majority of Palestinians are vehemently opposed has any chance of resulting in a lasting peace? Probably not, eh?

        That, by the way, is only one of the issues I mentioned. On the others, the outlook is not better. Either these issues were barely even considered, like water distribution, or they were again handled between the PA and Israel in a way that would most certainly not meet with approval by the Palestinians they would affect – most obvious in the case of the refugees.

        In a way, the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt have made the whole concept obsolete. The assumption that there need only be a “deal” and then the PA would somehow force their Palestinian subjects to obey is no longer credible – nor should it be.

  4. There is no proposal yet. It is likely that the summary of final conclusions would remain in one submitted to legislatures and public to ratify.

    Let the Palestinians determine their conclusions themselves on the merits of their alternatives.

    The two non-compromisable features of a proposal to be successfully ratified, to my understanding must include safety for Israel and viability for Palestine.

    I’ve negotiated in contracts, and gladly accepted provisions that I would have opposed, and I’ve rejected contracts that contained provisions that were untenable.

    I assume that the Palestinian people will weigh what is important to them. You should give them that chance, and encourage the PA to negotiate a proposal to bring to the people, one that results in peace.

    The presence of issues of conflict do not indicate absence of peace, but specific issues of tension only.

    It is SO important that a proposal be articulated, and hopefully ratified. Only those far away (in body and/or sympathy) are content with encouraging continuing war.

    The need for peace is compelling. Israel in particular must be willing to compromise important issues for peace. The PA has confidently demonstrated their willingness.

    Its time.

    • Koshiro says:

      I’ll tell you what I’d encourage the PA to: Actually represent the interests of their supposed constituency instead of getting cozy with Israeli officials behind closed doors.

      And for goodness’ sake, stop with the wishy-washy general terms already. Borders, airspace, military capabilities, refugees: These are very concrete issues on which there are very concrete positions, the Israeli positions being incompatible with Palestinian public opinion (and international law, but we don’t want to nitpick here.)

      I’d also like to say: To hell with “the parties”. I reserve my right to have an opinion on the positions which Avishai seems to see as the golden road to peace, but which in reality would make the Versailles treaty look equitable. Fortunately, this requires no great contortions on my part, seeing as how my own opinions are supported by the majority of polled Palestinians.

      • If you are a Palestinian, you’ll get to vote.

        If you’re not, then you are stating an opinion. You’re entitled to your opinion.

        I think I got the conditions for a peace agreement right, and it is simple and simplistic. Viability for Palestine and Safety for Israel.

        Views on polls change. I think the PA used Costa Rica (no military) as a desirable model, and concluded that in an environment of peace and trust, that it was possible.

        Other states in a setting of conflict have to dedicate a fixed large financial commitment to arms. It is always a detriment. Partisans will always blame the enemy for that necessary defense budget, but its usually not.

        Give the Palestinians a chance to vote. Don’t presume.

      • Koshiro says:

        “I think the PA used Costa Rica (no military) as a desirable model”
        Well, I think you just made that up (the PA’s use of it as a model, that is) and that the demilitarization agenda is a purely Israeli one, which already shoves that nice little analogy out of the window, since Costa Rica was not forced by any outside power to abolish its military. Nor is there anything to prevent Costa Rica from rearming, should it feel the need. In short words, Costa Rica is unimpaired in its sovereignty and its right to self-defense, both of which you would happily deny to the Palestinian state (while of course assuming them as natural for Israel.)

        “Give the Palestinians a chance to vote.”
        Oh, I’m all in favor of that, if it was just too shatter your illusions. Too bad that the ‘parties’ don’t want to.

      • Koshiro says:

        Oh, and just to clear it up:

        Palestine Papers – the perfect antidote for any rose-colored glasses about the so-called peace process.

  5. Koshiro says:

    Shame one can’t edit posts here. There’s more:

  6. Having negotiated for contracts with organizations that were more powerful than I, and still ending up with contracts that I (and then other third parties) consented to, I don’t see the posts that you made as compelling.

    It is still the product that the Israeli and the Palestinian people will ratify or reject.

    You imagine “rose-colored” glasses. Its ironic as many accuse me of “rose-colored” glasses in trusting the intent to reconcile of the PA and others, even of my predisposition to think that those that advocate for democracy for Palestinians will advocate for democracy for Jews (say in a federal single state).

    I would hope that you are inspired to become a “designer”, meaning that you design into systems or relations, characteristics that meet multiple objectives, and distinguish between which objectives are necessary, which are desirable, and which are unnecessary.

    A partisan only needs to consider their own needs, ignoring the design process entirely, the peace process (the effort to meet multiple parties’ needs). An assertive negotiator (not a partisan) can articulate their own needs clearly and forcefully, trusting that their opponent will do so similarly and then put their heads to together to design an outcome that meets both needs.

    I respect that the PA has done that.

    If you are stating your objections to increase the likelihood that a proposal will be ratified, actually consented, actually resulting in real and long-term peace, then I applaud your effort.

    If you are stating your objections to distract from the work of creating a durable peace, or to capitalize on potential opportunity, then I wish you would review your motivations, strategy and actions (your words).

    • Koshiro says:

      “I don’t see the posts that you made as compelling.”
      You based your piece on the assumption (by Avishai) that Israel and the Palestinians are basically on the same page when it comes to – among other things – ‘demilitarization’. I just demonstrated to you, using actual data and actual documents, that this assumption is false. Dunno about you, but I somewhat prefer to see things as they are, not as they should be. It makes for a more realistic basis for judgment.

  7. AbeBird says:

    Opponents of Israeli insistence that Palestinians recognize a Jewish state assert that Netanyahu’s demands in this regard are all bluster; merely a means to delay and diminish inevitable Israeli territorial concessions. Yet if the PA cannot extend any recognition of Jewish self-determination akin to the self-same recognition they demand, can the PA really negotiate in good faith? If the Palestinian public is firmly opposed to sustained ideological concessions and the PA leadership believes recognition is a zero-sum game, is there a future for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations?
    PLO charter denies citizenship to all Jews excepting those “who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion,” generally considered to date to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. )

    The Israelis need to reach out to Jewish folks in the U.S. The majority of which are either suckers, suicidal or have the mental disorder known as liberalism.

  8. AbeBird says:

    First of all there is no rush to solve the “Palestinian problem”. Israel stands by its own without that Palestinian state and Palestinian state needs Israel for being created somehow in the future. As we all know, Arabs have huge volume of patient and they can wait for a proper time.

    The Nazi-Arab alliance had been aggressively sought by the Arabs of Palestine …. The legacy of Islamic and Arab hate that spurred the Arab world burned broad enough to help Hitler get ever closer to his goal of exterminating all Jews. That provocative affiliation competes with the Islamic view that sees no place for non-Islamic state to be admitted in the “Dahr el-Islam” (the house/shrine of Islam).

    The process of extremism in the Islamic world is marching on these days, and creates a new fragile environment of instability and in-trustable. Weak leaders of the PLO are more hesitant to get into a talk-process with the Israelis, not because Israel but because of their inner hard brutal opponents. The PLO itself is quite as extreme as how to view the future of “the Israeli problem [of the Muslim world]”. They want to solve that “problem” through a process that is called “the stages’ policy” set by Arafat in 1974, and never had been changed since. That policy based on dual and parallel tactics enhance at the same time: [A] continuing the “legitimate” terror attacks in order to destabilize Israel from inside and [B], proceeding with their political efforts in order to weaken Israel from outside.

    As we see, the Arabs stand well in their program, while achieving great amount of support for their political channel and even a great understanding for their terror actions, since the 70th. As long as their terror arise and hit the Israelis more and more, the Arab Palestinians’ supporters in the West blame and condemn Israel even more. All the pro-Arab Palestinian NGO’s movements (which most of them are only an internet addresses) were created since 2001, after the bloody damned “second Intifada” was first launched (Oct. 2000). The new wave of attacking Israel and the Jews created some new Anti-Semite environment and set the policy of de-legitimizing the very existence of Israel, the right of Israel to exist and even justification and calling to annihilate of Israel from the face of the map/earth. Israel is the only state in the world that her existence is being questioned and threatened by concrete and by ideological swords – the concrete is made by the extremist Muslims for now, and the ideological threat is made by a weird coalition of [a] extreme Islamic groups, [b] extreme liberal-left western niches and by the [c] far right racist Anti-Semites. It’s very pity that some Jews, most of them un-consciously, serving their goal, even partially, without acquaintance with the over whole picture.

    The Anti-Israel ideological movements are very busy in their “sacred” mission to create an alternative new fabricated reality which will serve their goal. Their corner-claims based on their neo-imaginary history which sometimes contradicting their own claims. Here are some of the basic claims and tactics (Some Marxist Jewish scholars had adopted some of their claims):
    1. Judaism is not a nationality or people-hood but only a religion, thus Jews have no right for a certain territory or a national state.
    2. Now day Jews have no any blood link to Jesus era’s Jews and most of them are gentiles who converted to Judaism through the last 2000 years.
    3. Jews are descendants of pigs and apes.
    4. The “Palestinian people” has long history in Palestine and is attached to the land more than Jews are. Jews existed only for a short historical period and left no trace on the ground.
    5. Holocaust had not occurred and it is only a Zionist forgery that serves their propaganda and agenda.
    6. Holocaust did occurred by the Zionists and their Nazi Germany supports against the Jews that opposed Zionism and refused to immigrate to Palestine until the WWII had started.
    7. In 1948 war the Jews killed and expelled million of Arabs that sat in peace on their soil (They are calling it the ’Nakba’), while the ‘Nakba’ meant to be at the first place “throwing the Jews into the sea”, but the Arabs failed and the Jews won the war and survived).
    8. Creating of un-numerous of “information producers”, blogs, sites, YouTubes, facebooks and twitters that are ignoring Muslims actions of crime and exaggerating, misinforming and disinforming the Israeli actions.

    Anti-Israel Islamic and leftist agents portray the Israelis as rich, heartless Jews (some times as Zionists in order to differentiate between Jews and Zionists) versus poor, innocent, noble Palestinians; the giant key symbolizing the right of return; left wing, European-born Israelis; checkpoints, the wall, stolen land, brutal Israeli soldiers; heroic, wronged Palestinian schoolgirls, Jewish terrorism, stony-faced settlers – by ignoring reality and facts and picking up repeatedly verses of their new history telling.
    Tough the Palestinian Arabs terms of “peace” were always, as enunciated publicly innumerable times by Arafat, Abu-Abbas (aka Abu-Mazen) and many other representative speakers, by both FATAH and HAMAS as being:
    (1) Complete withdrawal to the pre-67 lines as first stage.
    (2) Unlimited and unrestricted right of ‘return’ of Palestinian Arab Refugees’ ancestors into 1948’s Israeli border (a clear potential of pouring in of 7 million Arabs into Israel and annihilate her from inside).
    (3) No recognition, what so ever, in the Right of the Jews for their national state in their historical homeland, which means, No “end of conflict” but rather a limited cease-fire, until the Arabs from within will hold control of the state of Israel, with the help of Arab terror from surroundings.

    That means that according to main Arab Palestinian view, Jews have no any right for their state of Israel, and at the end of the conflict there, there won’t be Israel on the map of the Islamic Middle East.

    While it is true that in the secret negotiations between the sides in 2000-2001 and 2008 the Palestinians did refer to some sort of minor territorial compromises which were never agreed upon and ambiguous statements that the Palestinians could “understand” that Israel couldn’t accept an unlimited “right of return” of Palestinian refugees , we can see from the howls of outrage from the Palestinian street and from Jews who support the Palestinian cause, following the Al-Jazeera leaks that any sort of compromise on the three demands I listed above was unacceptable and actually treasonous.
    What is the best Solution? In my view only separation of both communities will bring a slim chance to overcome the conflict. If and when Hamas and the Muslim brotherhood of Jordan will take over Jordan and create a Palestinian Jordan, then it will represent the Arab Palestinians exactly as Israel represents the Jewish Palestinians. Creating an Islamic Palestinian state of Jordan will divert the essence of the conflict and will navigate it to a “normal” bipartisan conflict, two already existing states’ conflict. It will be easy to solve the refugee problem on the soil of Jordan, where more than 70% of its habitants are Palestinians.

    The remaining Arabs of the now called “West Bank” will become citizens of Jordan and residents in Israel, they will vote for the Parliament of Amman and not for the Knesset in Jerusalem.

  9. Your post is offensive to me. It contains many innaccuracies and speculations taken as fact, adding up to an opportunistic and harmful conclusion.

    I don’t know if reconciliation is possible. I encounter many individuals that bear only anger for Israelis and by extension, Jews.

    And, at the same time, I’ve met my “Abrahamic 50”, meaning that I’ve met enough accepting and morally courageous Palestinians to state that your assumptions about “all the Palestinians” or even prevailing majority are as ludicrous about any generalization.

    We are human beings, responsible to use our best skills to treat others respectfully, charitably, based on the assumption that a healthy community can possibly be a good neighbor. In contrast, a desparate community can not. They are either dominated and suppressed, or desparate in their actions.

    There are Israelis and Palestinians that see the title to the land as a heart-valve, a one way expansion, slow or fast, their’s only.

    The assertion that the land is permanently Jewish on the basis of Torah or heritage, conflicts with both modern and halachic law, even as the orthodox claim the authority of Torah as the basis of title. Per halacha, Jews are expected to conform to the laws of the secular state that they reside with really only gross exceptions like being forced to renounce God or the covenant. Every orthodox sect that I’m aware of regards the current state of Israel as a secular state, a preferable one in that pays special attention to Jewish well-being, but NOT the messianic.

    The basis of Zionism is the secular concept of consent of the governed.

    Israel does need to reconcile. It cannot survive surrounded by enemies for centuries.

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