No peace, No peace plans, No price for Peace

Moshe Sharon – Professor of Islamic History at the Hebrew University
Unity Coalition for Israel

Two Arab proverbs

    Everybody says that his donkey is a horse.

    There is no tax on words.

On December 24th 1977, at the very beginning of the negotiations between Israel and Egypt in Ismailia, I had the opportunity to have a short discussion with Muhammad Anwar Sadat the president of Egypt. “Tell your Prime Minister,” he said, “that this is a bazaar; the merchandise is expensive.” I told my Prime Minister but he failed to abide by the rules of the bazaar. The failure was not unique to him alone. It is the failure of all the Israeli governments and the media.

On March 4, 1994, I published an article in the Jerusalem Post called “Novices in Negotiations” The occasion was the conclusion of the “Cairo Agreement.” A short time later, Yasser Arafat, proved yet again that his signature was not worth the ink of his pen let alone the paper to which it was affixed, and his word was worth even less. Then, as in every subsequent agreement Israel was taken aback when her concessions had become the basis for fresh Arab demands.
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July 27, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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  1. Four years ago I wrote

    Playing hardball
    (Scroll down more than half way)

    Labour continues to bang the drum of abandoning settlements and making other unilateral concessions as the path to peace, whereas the alternative policy, is the current policy of no concessions until violence is ended and PA transformed. In other words, Labour wants to concede defeat to the Palestinians before negotiations start and Likud wants the PA to concede defeat before negotiations start.

    To my mind Oslo was a process of unilateral withdrawal. True, we negotiated for conditions but never bothered to enforce them. In addition, the PA agreed to the deal without an agreement from Israel to desist in the settlement activity let alone abandon them. Now Labour wants to do it again, this time without an agreement and with a gratuitous concession to abandon certain settlements. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

    When the US was trying to negotiate an agreement to end the Vietnam War, the parties wrangled for months on the shape of the negotiating table. Why so? Because who ever gave in on the point was signalling that they could be relied upon to give in first later on.

    Negotiations are basically adversarial with each side striving to get as much as they can. Whoever is stronger gets more of what they want. Whoever is in a greater rush gets less. Whoever gives first gets less and whoever is intransigent gets more. These are the facts of life, or if you will, negotiations.

    The only obligation Israel has according to Oslo is to negotiate. The PA has the same obligation but opted for violence instead. They recognized that the Oslo Accords rendered them impotent to get more than Israel was willing to give them. Even so, Barak offered them 97%. Still not enough because their end game was the destruction of Israel.

    All proposals being put forward since are to give the Palestinians more than Oslo gave them and even more than Barak offered them. Even the US, our friend, is pushing for a better deal for them. So much for upholding agreements and the rule of law. If anything, because of the intafada, the Palestinians should get less than what Barak offered them, in part to penalize them (terrorism will cost you, it is not a free shot) and in part as a consequence of the new reality,( Israel is endangered more than it thought).

    Sharon has to decide if he is going to roll with the punches to deflect the blows and as a result come out with a better result for going along or he is going to be intransigent in resisting the pressure. It is far from certain that such intransigence in the end won’t get Israel a better result than going along. After all, what is the US prepared to do to get Israel to make concessions. Remember there is an election starting this year.

  2. I wrote this a few years ao but never finished it.

    Offer Nothing, Demand Everything

    Whether or not the Road map is good for Israel, depends on where it is going. Yet no one even discusses it. We all focus on the process. And the red lines in the process keep changing. So far, the PA has done nothing except demand the release of prisoners. But we must keep our eye on the ball, namely, what’s in it for us.

    Sharon keeps pacifying Israelis by saying that he won’t compromise Israel’s security as though that is all we care about. It is a very defensive posture. While the PA is asserting maxamilist demands, Sharon has no demands to assert other than to state a negative. He won’t compromise Israel’s security. Not good enough. Not by a long shot.

    Instead, he should be insisting on the fourteen red lines, that Israel will not discuss the division of Jerusalem, that Israel will not discuss the “right” of return, that Israel will insist on compensation for damages due to the intafadah, that Israel will not permit the Palestinians to work in Israel, that Israel is making demand for all of Yesha to be part of Israel and that Israel will not release prisoners as part of a deal. I am sure you can add to the list. Instead Sharon is silent on our demands preferring to focus on security as our bottom line. No, no, no. It is not our bottom line. It is not enough for us. We want more than security, much more.

    In the real world negotiators always start with maximal demands, not minimal demands.

    Secondly, the worse thing Israel could have done is to accept a temporary a cease-fire. Dismantle or else. That should be its stance. The Arabs argue that they are entitled to “resist” while negotiations are going on. I agree. But Israel is likewise entitled to step up the counter terror measures including strikes and assassinations while they negotiate the terms of a settlement. We have within our power to dismantle and destroy the terror machine and should do so with allowing it to be a negotiating issue. Remember you don’t negotiate with terror or reward it.

  3. Whatever Arens has to say on the subject of negotiations makes sense to just about anyone with a lick of common sense. It appears that Israeli governments right up to and including this Olmert led government, just have not had that lick of common sense.

    Hopefully ordinary Israelis read this piece by Arens and are moved to demand at the very least, that Olmert put Moshe Arens in charge of negotiations with anyone Israel has to negotiate with, be it friend or foe.

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