The shape of things to come.

By Ted Belman

On Monday JPOST published an article by Gershon Baskin under the misleading title Peek at an Agreement. He advises “The assumption is that the sides will negotiate in secret and will reach a declaration of principles which will then be brought to the electorate in Israel and Palestine – either through full elections or through referenda.”

There is no question about negotiating in secret but I have yet to see a government commitment to an election or referendum.

But then sets out the terms of a proposed agreement rather than an actual draft of the agreement to be. He is just restating the Geneva Accords. Last summer I advised The Geneva Accords are being elevated to government policy and so it seems. This article is well worth reading again.

    ARTICLE II – PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD. The State of Palestine will be established on the territories agreed to by the parties based on the principle of 100% of the size of the land area of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem with agreed upon border modifications, agreed-upon territorial exchange in accordance with the vital needs of both sides, including security, territorial contiguity, and demographic considerations.

    The Palestinian State will have a connection between its two geographic areas, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian State will have full control over its external borders in accordance with security arrangements that will be agreed upon.

Evelyn Gordon believes The Devil is in the Details

    It turns out that while the Palestinians agreed to territorial exchanges in principle, they refused to concede any specific territory that Israel wanted. They objected to Israel keeping the settlement blocs – one of Israel’s main reasons for wanting territorial exchanges – and generally insisted that any swaps total no more than 2.3 percent of the West Bank, well short of the 6 to 8 percent needed for the blocs. They refused to let Israel keep Latrun, which dominates the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway – a crucial issue for Israel, since gunfire from Latrun can and, pre-1967, often did shut down the entire highway. And they insisted that the “safe passage” connecting Gaza and the West Bank be under Palestinian sovereignty, thereby effectively severing Israel in two (Israel proposed Israeli sovereignty but Palestinian control). In short, there was no agreement on any actual border-related issue; there was merely a lofty declaration of principles.

In my opinion, Israel is moving to the Palestinian position.

Baskin talks about a “connection” between Gaza and the new state. All that was agreed to in the Rafah Agreement was “safe passage” and even that was only in an atmosphere of trust. Israel has never agreed to a land corridor though it might.

Baskin also wrote “The Palestinian State will have full control over its external borders in accordance with security arrangements that will be agreed upon. “ Yet Israel would like the U.S. to agree to a number of limitations on the future Palestinian state’s sovereignty. Israel wants Palestine to be completely demilitarized, and for Israel to be able to fly over Palestinian air space. Border crossings would be monitored by Israel in such a way that the symbols of Palestinian sovereignty would not be compromised, but Israel would know who was coming and going. Does this sound like full control to you? We will have to see how this plays out.

    ARTICLE III – JERUSALEM. The State of Israel and the State of Palestine will both establish their capitals in Jerusalem. The delineation of borders and the future status of the Holy Places, and the mechanisms for governing Jerusalem will be the focus of the detailed permanent status negotiations on Jerusalem. The principle guiding the negotiations on the delineation of borders in Jerusalem will be: “What is Arab to the Palestinians, what is Jewish to Israel.” The two sides are committed to guaranteeing that freedom of religion and full access to all holy sites will be guaranteed to all.

Gordon writes,

    THE SAME was true of Jerusalem: There was a lofty declaration about dividing the city, but no agreement on how to do so. Israel wanted territorial contiguity among the city’s Jewish neighborhoods, which would turn Palestinian neighborhoods into enclaves; the Palestinians wanted Palestinian territorial contiguity and Jewish enclaves. Nor was agreement reached on how to secure this patchwork nightmare. In the Old City, both sides claimed the Armenian Quarter (though they agreed on the other quarters). Finally, there was no agreement on the Temple Mount: Israel wanted either “ambiguous” or shared sovereignty and some form of joint administration; the Palestinians insisted that the mount be entirely theirs, with Israel having no rights whatsoever in Judaism’s holiest site.

We can take no comfort in what was. The new reality is that Israel is expected to be more flexible and she will be.

    ARTICLE IV – REFUGEES. In line with the Arab League Peace Initiative, both parties accept the principle of a just solution to the Palestinian Refugee problem to be agreed upon in consideration of UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

    Both sides recognize that the resolution to the refugee problem must also be in accordance with the principle of two-states for two peoples taking into account the demographic realities and needs of both States. On that basis, Israel acknowledges that it shares responsibility with other parties for the emergence of refugees’ plight and acknowledges their suffering since 1948 with sorrow.

    All Palestinian refugees will be eligible to receive immediate citizenship in the State of Palestine based on a plan of immigration and settlement to be determined by the State of Palestine.

    The international community, Israel, and the Palestinian State will establish and contribute to an International Fund for Palestinian Refugees that will compensate all Palestinian refugees in recognition of years of their suffering. [..]

    [..] State of Israel agrees to accept up to 50,000 family reunification requests over a 10 year period.

There is much that bothers me about this. Res 194 provides that the “refugees should be allowed to return” thus it should not be mentioned. Then he suggests that Israel “acknowledges a shared responsibility” which also bothers me. Why should Israel acknowledge responsibility?

Even Barak didn’t offer to take back this number. Why should Israel take back any.

    ARTICLE V – SECURITY. The Palestinian State will be have a limited military force and a robust police force focusing on the protection of Palestinian democracy, the protection of national institutions, law and order, and internal security. The State of Israel and the State of Palestine will continue to coordinate and to improve their mutual security efforts to eliminate all forms of violence directed against the establishment of full peace. The parties will further work out detailed arrangements to provide for the security and integrity of the peoples of both States.

    An international peacekeeping force will be deployed in the State of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza that will assist in the process of establishing full security for both States. An international presence will also be stationed at the external borders of the Palestinian state that will supervise and monitor the implementation of the security dimensions of the detailed agreements

We can expect the same protection as UNIFIL provides in Lebanon or the UN provided in the Sinai before Nasser sent them packing or the international monitors at Rafah before the guns scared them off.

Unfortunately Baskin’s agreement reflects the shape of things to come.

January 17, 2008 | Comments »

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