Reality Check: Annotated Edition of FM Livni’s Cabinet Presentation

By Israel Insider staff December 2, 2007

Last week was a good week for Israel, and we succeeded in meeting the goals we set for ourselves regarding the peace process.

We will show on this page that Israel made disastrous concessions in Annapolis which will not only subvert the “peace process” but permanently weakened Israel’s long-term security and diplomatic position.

The text of the Annapolis Joint Understanding contains several key issues regarding the peace process on which we insisted until the very last minute. Several points which were not included in the document, which I will enumerate, are no less important than those that were included.

Misleading the Cabinet, Livni does not mention her omissions and concessions, such as giving in on Olmert’s prior insistence of including Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. Nor did she mention the embarrassing concession that demanded both sides, equally, “to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis” — as if terrorism and incitement can be put on an equivalent basis.

The pre-eminence of Roadmap implementation: Our implementation of the agreements will be conditional on an examination of actual implementation on the ground of the first phase of the Roadmap. This is a principle on which I insisted about throughout the talks, and an important element upon which the document was based.

It is the United States, ultimately, that will do the examination, monitoring and judging progress. Israel has given up completely on the 13 objections to the Roadmap document that it listed as being conditions for its endorsement. Israel also did not secure American reference to the letter by President Bush endorsing the impracticality of a return to the pre-1967 borders, thus implicitly allowing Israel to maintain its densely populated settlement blocs.

Israel’s hands will not be tied: There will be no agreement on core issues at this early stage, no inclusion of issues problematic for Israel within the framework of the negotiations – such as the Arab League initiative which includes some issues that are awkward for us – and Israel will not be bound to a time table. We want to negotiate, launching negotiations is in our interest, and we want to conclude the negotiations as soon as possible – but we did not commit ourselves to a time table that will bring direct international pressures to bear on Israel. It was not simple to achieve this, but we insisted.

Israel’s hands are already tied. More than ever before, Israel must toe the American line. That has grave implications concerning freedom of action against terror in Gaza, the West Bank and in Iran. Israel will be pressed to remove checkpoints, withdraws from Palestinians cities, and reduce pre-emptive military activity. Israel committed itself to a one year time frame, and the distinction that this was a commitment to try, not succeed, is likely to be lost over time.

No international involvement throughout the process: We made it emphatically clear that the entire dialogue must be bilateral. It was important for us to make it clear that from now on the negotiations will be on the bilateral track, with no direct involvement of the international community.

There is massive international involvement, for which the US will serve as orchestrator, as it did in Annapolis, with primary responsibility for bringing Israel to heel. Since the Israelis and Palestinians can be expected to always disagree, and disagree radically, the United States will always be pulled into the role of judge, the role to which it is explicitly assigned in the Joint Understanding. And as Livni and Olmert discovered to their chagrin, the US will not hesitate to bring in the United Nations, the Quartet and other international bodies to support its interests in reaching an imposed solution.

Another important subject that found expression in Annapolis was the participation of the Arab countries, as part of the emerging struggle between moderates and extremists. The participation of the Arab countries at the foreign minister level, as well as their moderate demeanor, are not to be taken lightly.

Well, they certainly took you lightly, refusing to shake your hands or even enter through the same door. While it was noted that some were clapping politely during Olmert’s speech, they were also not listening. They don’t care what Israel has to say. They were more like witnesses at a court proceeding whose end is predictable and eagerly awaited.

In my discussions with Arab leaders at the conference and in my speeches, I made it clear to them that it is not Israel who requires their support, but rather the moderate Arab leaders. It is up to them to create an atmosphere that does not equate speaking to Israel with treason to the Arab cause, and to make it clear that there are additional Arab bodies that support the dialogue. If you wait for the end of the process – you will lose the opportunity and the ability to influence and bring about change, and you will lose relevance with both the moderates and extremists.

Needless to say, there is no evidence to indicate they even heard you, let alone took you seriously. You have no relevance to them, never have and never will.

The next test will be the donors conference in Paris. There we will see if they will continue with the dynamic created in Annapolis — in relation to the Palestinians as well as to Israel.

Yes, we will see.

Annapolis was also a success in that it was made clear to everyone that negotiations do not limit Israel’s freedom to act on security issues. From Israel’s point of view, the Roadmap is the minimum basic demand. Security arrangements will also be part of the ongoing talks and serve as the basis for our positions.

No, Israel is totally free to act. No doubt.

To summarize, the meeting and resulting joint understanding advanced Israel’s standing and promoted Israeli interests with the Palestinians, the Arab countries and the entire world.

You would like to think so, wouldn’t you?

December 4, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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1 Comment / 1 Comment

  1. Deals and agreements are made to be broken (apparently). The Arabs have proven over and over again that agreements, written or verbal, are for them to break (even though they try to force Israel through international pressure to live up to the letter of bilateral agreements in which they benefit).

    Also, the US has been changing its focus, objectives and emphasis when it comes to the war on terrorism (and on countries that support terrorism) and its relationship with Israel is weakening, and so I see no problem in Israel being unpredictable. If the other countries can be wishy-washy with Israel’s best interests and security (and existence) then Israel can do the same with the interests of the Arab countries. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. There must be only one standard – both sides must choose either the high standard or the low standard but they both must be playing by the same rules.

    Israel needs to learn how to make demands. Going into talks is all about a quid pro quo. The Annapolis negotiations have been a farce and Israel should have just gone in there with one objective: to test the water for a sea change in Arab thinking. What is evident is that there is no readiness for peace on the part of the many Arab nations and too much readiness on the part of Israel. The climate for peace is not right, the Arabs will not bend, their demands are stupid and unrealistic, their manners are atrocious, and their arrogance is sickening; their manipulation techniques, however, are outstanding.

    Israel must take a lesson from the Arab countries on how to approach talks and how to fudge on agreements. The Muslim world, after all, is allowed to lie, cheat and steal if it advances their cause. We should play by their low rules of engagement until they change. There is a great deal of respect in Muslim world accorded to those who break deals and those who renegotiate at the drop of a hat to suit their own changing needs. In the Arab world you dance around stones, but nothing is written in stone – you write agreements in sand!

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