There is no “peace process”

By Arlene Kushner

Every day brings something different in the constantly shifting “peace” situation here. Yesterday I read a statement from Olmert that seemed to elaborate on his readiness to accept the Saudi plan as a “basis” for negotiations, followed by a statement from a Saudi official that, well, perhaps there could be some adjustment in the plan. And I thought uh oh!

But today I’m reading that the Arab summit, which begins tomorrow, will not be making changes in the Saudi plan, and that there has been a Saudi statement to the effect that negotiations must be between Israel and the Palestinians and that they cannot serve as a replacement for this.

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The biggest news today is a press conference given in Jerusalem by Sec. Rice after her meeting with Olmert and Abbas, in which she announced that Olmert and Abbas would now be meeting biweekly. First, she said, they would be discussing “immediate concerns” — “like movement and access, management of the passages, and preventing arms smuggling and rocket fire by terrorists in Gaza.” And, she suggested, the establishment of benchmarks to measure progress on issues of concern would be helpful. To that end, she said, General Keith Dayton would be working with both parties.

This is a statement of significance in that it is an acknowledgement of sorts that there are real issues to be dealt with before there can be a “political horizon.” That whole notion of a political horizon is exceedingly dangerous. It purports to give the Palestinians a vision of what they can have if they moderate, but the very real danger is that once it’s spelled out then pressure will be brought to bear on Israel: You’re willing to give them this much, then, OK, give it to them! It’s too easy to skip over the requirement that terrorist infrastructure be dismantled first. Compliance on issues of security must precede Israeli willingness to state with finality what can be given.

The notion of benchmarks is itself potentially significant. It says we cannot talk in generalities but have to measure what is going on. I would like to point out here that what is always mentioned is the rocket fire and sometimes (as here) the arms smuggling. But at this point the picture is a lot bigger than this. Even if the Palestinian Arabs were to stop all smuggling tomorrow, they have already smuggled in so much sophisticated weaponry (such as anti-aircraft missiles), so many tons of explosives, so many arms, etc. etc. that there is a real security danger to us. Stopping the smuggling is a step in the right direction but not nearly sufficient. Any serious benchmarks, as Rice is using the term, would require dismantling, destruction, relinquishing of arms and weaponry on a significant scale.

And along with the possession of sophisticated armaments there is also the matter of the huge network of tunnels that has been dug in Gaza, designed to be used in tactical fighting, and the bunkers that have been constructed a la Hezbollah. All of this needs to be enumerated, spoken about publicly, and grappled with before there can be talk of political horizons or anything else. Anyone who is a regular reader of my postings is aware of what I’ve described here, but the Western world at large is not; I would venture that many Congresspersons are not. All they hear about, for the most part, are the rocket attacks on Sderot.

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But, naturally, Rice says that as the two parties meet they will also begin to talk about political horizons. However, she cautions, “we are not yet at final status negotiations.” In fact, she acknowledges, peace may not come “on our watch.” She is merely laying groundwork to make it more possible.

There are very real reasons why she is making these apparently obvious — more than obvious — statements: Rice’s press conference was scheduled for last night, but Israel balked at what she was planning to announce: That she would do shuttle diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs with regard to final status issues (final borders, the status of Jerusalem, and the resolution of the refugee issue). Until there is resolution of the terrorism issue, Israel is not interested in this, and, according to a piece in today’s NY Sun, communicated as much to top people at the While House.

In a word, Rice was attempting to shove movement towards a terrorist Palestinian state down our throats, but was stopped in her tracks.

According to my latest information, Rice was pushing this big time right now so she’d have something to present to the Saudis with the start of the Arab summit. Her plan was to involve the Saudis in an international peace conference but the Saudis weren’t interested (which explains what I reported above with regard to the Saudi statement that they couldn’t replace Israeli-Palestinian negotiations).

Olmert’s position since the establishment of the unity gov’t has been that he will discuss only security and humanitarian issues with Abbas.

In spite of Rice’s suggestion today that the talks will phase into the “political horizon,” I’m not certain that it will happen at all, for there is a great deal of discontent here in Israel with what Rice is saying. MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said she was asking Israel “to hold talks on the establishment of a Palestinian state without peace and without security, and Israel must reject this.” And Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) in an interview with Army Radio, said that “the system of relations with the Americans is good, and we need to keep it that way…[but] the approach from the US is not always the most correct one.”

March 27, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. There is no “peace process”

    I agree that There is no “peace process” , and to me it seems improbable that there will ever be any.

    How can it be that among the world’s million or so politicians and “statesmen”, as well as among a hundred million bureaucrats world wide, there is hardly a single one who is aware that There is no “peace process”? Their belief in the “peace process” is apparently as strong and as badly founded as their belief in Allah.

  2. Martel’s spot on (and nice response to Bedier).
    Bill, #4 won’t happen through human means, but from the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32: “…When He sees that their power is gone, and their is none remaining…He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will make expiation for His land, for His people.”

  3. Though lauded as “Israel’s best friend” as recently as a few months ago by many Israeli observers, Bush has become Israel’s worst nightmare and the most dangerous threat to Israel’s survival since… well, since Clinton. Of course, this was preordained the day he made his Rose Garden speech calling for a Palestinian state. That pledge and concession was immediately absorbed and posited by the Arabs as a new starting point for extortions negotiations with Israel, with all of the associated prerequisites to dismantle their terror apparatus seen as just so much silly infidel chaff. Any pretense associated with the notion that the Palestinian Arabs would ever renounce violence has now been fully abandoned by Bush and Rice. Instead, we have a triumph of the Baker/Brezinski realpolitik school of a “world without Israel”.

    As I’ve posted here many times, Israel needs to hold on, make no further concessions and wait for the coming war with Iran (scheduled to arrive on April 6 at 0040 hours according to DEBKA). Perhaps we will get lucky and in its death throes, the mullahocracy will fire its ballistic missiles towards Riyadh and inadvertently hit Mecca. Now that would be an irony worthy of God’s hand.

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