The Shelf Agreement

The blueprint for all the interim steps, as well.

By Ted Belman

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert originally announced that he expects to reach an agreement with the Palestinian Authority (whatever and whoever that is) by the end of the year, and he went on to say it won’t be implemented for many years.

“We will insist on all the terms of the Road Map, first and foremost among them a cessation of terrorism, as a precondition for implementation of any understanding. But the first step, creating a horizon of hope for us and for the Palestinians, can be taken, it must be taken, and we will make every effort in order to successfully do so this year,” Olmert said.

The obvious question is why must we create a “horizon of hope”? The argument goes that if the Palestinians have hope, then they will abandon terror. Where is the evidence of this? We are offering them a carrot as an inducement to forgo terror.

The Oslo Accords also offered them a carrot of autonomy and they accepted it on this basis, only to get their many feet in the door and then immediately resort to terror, never honouring their obligations. So, US President George Bush offered them another carrot, the prospect of a Palestinian state, subject to cleaning house. The Roadmap followed shortly thereafter. It set out the steps to be taken to get the carrot. More terror was the result. Even that carrot wasn’t enough to change anything.

I should point out there was a hidden carrot included in the Roadmap, namely, the Saudi Peace Plan. It was mentioned for the first time as a principle for reaching an agreement. Rest assured that when King Abdullah first mentioned the plan it had been agreed by the US that the plan would be incorporated in the Roadmap after Bush announced his vision of a Palestinian state. This plan thereby undermined the principles of Resolution 242, requiring defensible borders, which were the guiding principles until then. Ariel Sharon objected to its inclusion and Colin Powell got brusque with him and basically said: take it or leave it; you cannot have the Roadmap without the Saudi Plan as part of it.

As you know, nothing changed. Palestinian terror continued.

Sharon sought to break the impasse and take the future into Israel’s own hands and disengaged from Gaza unilaterally. This also offered hope to the Palestinians, as they had every opportunity to build on what Israel left behind. They decided to destroy it instead.

Around this time, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice started saying that the Palestinians must be offered “hope”. As if Israel hadn’t been offering them hope from the get-go. Nevertheless, she would build on this idea, with diplomats all over the word picking up on it as if on cue, which they probably were. This new initiative culminated in the Annapolis conference and the inversion of the steps. First, the core issues were to be decided upon in a Declaration of Principles. But we were told not to worry because such agreement would be a “shelf agreement,” only to wait upon the requirements of the first phase to be satisfied.

To call it a “shelf agreement” is to suggest that it will lie fallow like a government report, with no immediate consequences.


Even now, before the agreement is finalized, it is being implemented on the ground. Arabs are being allowed to build anywhere on what will be their land without the necessity of a building permit. Jews, on the other hand, are severely restricted from building on their land or land they own. Palestinians are being tasked with the job of policing certain Arab towns and we just heard about how their political rights in Jerusalem are being expanded.

To call this a “shelf agreement” is a bald-faced lie. But beyond the question of its implementation, the most important consequence of it is the fact that the lands accorded to the Palestinians would, in effect, be held on trust for them. I have no doubt that after the “shelf agreement” is signed, Israel will pass the bill offering compensation to settlers to move out, more roadblocks would be lifted, etc. Israel will gradually withdraw over the next five years, while the US increasingly works with Fatah to increase their strength to govern and reduce terror.

(The Americans are training Fatah in the same way and for the same purpose as they are training the Iraqi army. The only difference is that in the case of the territories Israel is the occupier, but in both cases, the US is in charge.)

In effect, this “shelf agreement” is the blueprint for all interim steps to be taken toward its implementation. Once there is better separation, Palestine will be declared with or without a cessation of terror and incitement.

Keep in mind that the object of the “peace process” is to “end the occupation”, not end the terror. For this reason, Israel is investigating ways to protect themselves from missiles and rockets.

The way I see it is that if you are in favour of ending the occupation along the lines suggested, then this is a good plan – and it is irreversible. If, on the other hand, you hate the deal that is being cut… too bad.

September 4, 2008 | Comments »

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