There can be no settlement without ignoring facts

Dennis Ross writing in the NYT under the title Don’t Play With Maps
discusses the Clinton proposals

In his book, Mr. Carter juxtaposes two maps labeled the “Palestinian Interpretation of Clinton’s Proposal 2000” and “Israeli Interpretation of Clinton’s Proposal 2000.”

The problem is that the “Palestinian interpretation” is actually taken from an Israeli map presented during the Camp David summit meeting in July 2000, while the “Israeli interpretation” is an approximation of what President Clinton subsequently proposed in December of that year. Without knowing this, the reader is left to conclude that the Clinton proposals must have been so ambiguous and unfair that Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, was justified in rejecting them. But that is simply untrue.

In actuality, President Clinton offered two different proposals at two different times. In July, he offered a partial proposal on territory and control of Jerusalem. Five months later, at the request of Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, and Mr. Arafat, Mr. Clinton presented a comprehensive proposal on borders, Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and security. The December proposals became known as the Clinton ideas or parameters.

Put simply, the Clinton parameters would have produced an independent Palestinian state with 100 percent of Gaza, roughly 97 percent of the West Bank and an elevated train or highway to connect them. Jerusalem’s status would have been guided by the principle that what is currently Jewish will be Israeli and what is currently Arab will be Palestinian, meaning that Jewish Jerusalem — East and West — would be united, while Arab East Jerusalem would become the capital of the Palestinian state.

The Palestinian state would have been “non-militarized,” with internal security forces but no army and an international military presence led by the United States to prevent terrorist infiltration and smuggling. Palestinian refugees would have had the right of return to their state, but not to Israel, and a fund of $30 billion would have been created to compensate those refugees who chose not to exercise their right of return to the Palestinian state.

He advises that he was the “principal author” of the ideas set out in the proposals and accepts “It is certainly legitimate to debate whether President Clinton’s proposal could have settled the conflict.” In order for the conflict to be settled, the Arabs must give up their goal of destroying Israel and by their actions must satisfy Israel that they have done so. Thus they must begin to educate for peace. This won’t happen before a deal is cut nor will it happen after a deal is cut.

    Instead it (peace) can come only once the two sides accept and adjust to reality. Perpetuating a myth about what was offered to justify the Arafat rejection serves neither Palestinian interests nor the cause of peace.

    I would go a step further. If, as I believe, the Clinton ideas embody the basic trade-offs that will be required in any peace deal, it is essential to understand them for what they were and not to misrepresent them. This is especially true now that the Bush administration, for the first time, seems to be contemplating a serious effort to deal with the core issues of the conflict.

Ross and Clinton ignore that the most seminal core issue is Israel’s existence and the Arab goal of destroying it. Yet “peace makers” ignore this.

    Of course, one might ask if trying to address the core issues is appropriate at a moment when Palestinians are locked in an internal stalemate and the Israeli public lacks confidence in its government. Can politically weak leaders make compromises on the issues that go to the heart of the conflict? Can the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, compromise on the right of return and tell his public that refugees will not go back to Israel? Can Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, tell his public that demography and practicality mean that the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem will have Palestinian and not Israeli sovereignty?

Not so. Olmert could tell his people that in order to keep Jerusalem undivided, Israel could and should annex “greater Jerusalem” including all settlements in and around Jerusalem.

    So long as mythologies can’t be cast aside, and so long as the trade-offs on the core issues can’t be embraced by Israelis or Palestinians, peace will remain forever on the horizon. If history tells us anything, it is that for peace-making to work, it must proceed on the basis of fact, not fiction.

True enough but some facts must be ignored such as the fact that Jews have the legal right to settle these lands, That the Palestine Mandate assured Jews only of political rights and designated all of Judea and Samaria as the Jewish homeland. Furthermore the Mandate is still law.

Dennis Ross, envoy to the Middle East in the Clinton administration, is counselor of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

January 9, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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  1. The timing of this Ross Op-Ed was perfect to question the credibility of Carter who just Jan 5, went on the supportive Tavis Smiley show and insisted that Hamas terrorism hasn’t resulted in an killing of Israelis since August 2004, and that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as compared to South Africa’s treatment of Blacks under apartheid, “It’s worse.” (In the past he said it was worse than Rwanda.) I appreciate Ross’ unambiguous rebuke of Carter when he said Carter undermines efforts to bring peace and that it’s “not legitimate, however, to rewrite history and misrepresent what the Clinton ideas were.”

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