By Ted Belman
I just returned from an all day conference on US/Israel diplomacy in the wake of the past US elections and the effect of the Israeli elections a month from now.
Dennis Ross was the keynote speaker. He largely repeated yesterday’s speech but added his recommendations as to what Israel should do to remove the distrust and what the PA should do to remove the distrust. I won’t bother you with what he thought Israel should do but here is the list of what the PA should do:
– stop the incitement
– praise Israel when it does a good thing
– prepare the Palestinians for peace
– encourage social interaction between Arab youth and Jewish youth
– put Israel back on the map
– keep telling Israelis how good a neighbour it will be.
– embrace the idea of two states for two people
– prepare Palestinians to expect painful compromises by them
I thought, fat chance. If they did any one of them they wouldn’t be the PA. It serves to illustrate how estranged he is from reality.
The second speaker was the leading pollster in Israel, Dr Mina Tzemach. She introduced a very important poll on the attitude of Israelis to issues in the peace process. The questions were not blanket questions like do you favour the two-state solution but would you be willing to divide Jerusalem for peace. Or will a peace agreement bring peace? It was very interesting. I will get a copy of it and post it.
Then there was a panel on the Israel political aspects. Everyone thought that Bibi is electioneering and that after he is elected he won’t follow through with all the announced construction plans. Also that Bibi will bring in parties from the left and that all the leaders of these parties are positioning themselves to be included.
And finally the last panel with Itamar Rabinovich, Shlomo Avnineri and Zalman Shoval. Everyone thought that Israel was tethered to the demands of the peace processors and couldn’t detach herself. They talked about how if Israel persists in the construction of homes east of the green line that sanctions would result. They all felt that Israel must maintain her relationship with America. That both have similar strategic interests like dealing with Iran, chemical weapons in Syria and lawlessness in Sinai. The also share strategic interests in keeping the PA alive etc. They may agree to disagree or their differences may cause a rift and repercussions.
Avineri said something which I found interesting. He argued that when Israel plays the security card she gets a sympathetic hearing but when she builds settlements for ideological reasons her “friends” come down on her hard. Thus don’t do things for idealogical reasons because it jeopardizes our security interests. This reminded me of Bibi always saying that we won’t jeopardize our security rather than saying the land is ours and we want to keep as much of it as we can. So according to the peace process we are only entitled to security and not to our land rights.
But the Arabs do everything for ideological reasons. But we are not allowed to.