Mideast Apartheid? Peace?
WON'T BE HERE
The Hebrew daily
'Yediot Axaronot' 23.3.00.
(Notes added for Z-net commentaries.)
and twenty Palestinian intellectuals issued a message addressed to the Israeli
and Jewish public. "The majority of Palestinians, including the
undersigned, believed that the time was ripe for concluding with the Israelis a
historic agreement", they open, but instead, "the historic settlement
is becoming a settlement between Israelis themselves, not a settlement with the
Palestinians". That's because at the present, the balance of power is in
Israel's favor. "It is clear that the Palestinian negotiator, whose hands
are tied by the overwhelming balance of power working against him, may be
coerced into accepting a humiliating and degrading settlement."
an interview to Amira hass in Haaretz (13.3.00) some of the signers add that we,
the Israelis, always believe that we are omnipotent. That's precisely how we
felt at the eve of the Yom Kippur war in 1973. But if we go on making ourself
hated by the whole region, at the end we will remain five million heroes against
more than too hundred million Arabs.
Our proportions in the Arab world are similar to those of the white in South Africa. Now it may seem to us possible to establish here an Apartheid regime and imprison the Palestinians in their fenced "states". But in the long run, our options are precisely as there: join the region in peace, or perish. The Palestinian intellectuals offer us the option that the black left has offered to the whites in South Africa - join. "We extend our hand to you to make a real and just peace, not the militarist peace of coercion, the generals peace"
are just two roads leading to peace: A Palestinian states in the borders of
1967, whose capital is Jerusalem, or the road taken in South Africa - a
democratic state shared by both nations. A third road does not exist. "the
settlement the Israeli leadership is seeking to impose on the Palestinian
negotiator could not be a settlement with the Palestinian people... We will
neither support nor accept it"
writers of these words will be labelled here 'our enemies', because they reject
our peace proposals. Our columnists explain daily that the art of negotiations
requires toughness. So it is obvious and natural that we should try to squeeze
out of the Palestinian empire as many concessions as we can.
squeezing has no limits. In 1995's Beilin-Abu Maazen plan for the final
settlement, it was agreed that Arafat will renounce, on behalf of the
Palestinians, any claim on Jerusalem, and the Palestinian institutions will move
to the village Abu-Dis, bordering with Jerusalem. In return, Arafat will be
allowed to call Abu-Dis the capital of the Palestinian state. When Arafat
declares he will never give up on Al-Kuds (Jerusalem), he means Abu-dis (1).
Already since 1998, he was led to believe that Abu-Dis will be declared 'zone A'
(Palestinian self-administration), in the nearest "withdrawal".
for Barak, this is not enough. Abu-Dis was not included in the last package. Now
he demands that first Arafat will agree that Israel will annex officially all
areas of Israeli settlements surrounding Jerusalem, and then, maybe, he will get
Abu-Dis, and declare from there the formation of the state of the Palestinian
thing with Syria. For years it has been clear that as long as we do not give up
the Golan Heights and make peace with Syria, there will be no quiet in the
north. But behind the eyewash concerning Israel's readiness to concessions, the
only official document - the Shepherdstown document - clarifies that Israel does
not agree to evacuate the Golan settlements, or allow Syrian sovereignty of any
area in the Golan (3). It appears that Barak seeks to impose on Asad the same
kind of "peace" he offers Arafat. And if Asad refuses, this means he
does not really want peace, and the Israeli army stands ready for the battle.
is the most dangerous prime minister in the history of Israel. Already in 1982
he proposed to extend the Lebanon war to a total war on Syria. Then he explained
(in a memorandum to Sharon) that the best way to do that is without sharing the
plans with the government. Today he is consulting only with the heads of the
army and the security services. Never had the army as much grip on Israeli
politics, as in the times of Barak.
to an extensive poll reported in 'Yediot' (March 10, 00), 60% of the Jewish
Israelis are willing ot return all of the Golan Height and evacuate all
settlements for peace with Syria. A similar percentage supported in the polls
evacuation of settlements in the West Bank. But this majority has no voice,
since we do not have intellectuals of the magnitude of the Palestinian
intellectuals. Faced with the apartheid regime established in the West Bank and
Gaza, our intellectuals are still thrilled and moved by "the historical
compromise" we brought about with the Palestinians. As for Syria, what can
we do, given that Asad has not yet managed to prove that he really, but really,
loves Amos Oz (4).
E.g. in 'Haaretz' 5.5.98 (Akiva Eldar) it is reported that "Yaser Arafat
accepts the idea that the capital of the Palestinian state will be Abu-dis,
neighboring Jerusalem, and sees the understandings included in Beilin-Abu maazen
agreement as a realistic option for the final agreement with Israel".
"In a meeting with the Middle East section of the foreign affairs council
whose center is in New-York... Arafat was asked if it is possible to reach an
agreement with Israel also on the question of Jerusalem. Arafat: 'Certainly, it
is possible to accept the idea of Abu-Dis, which belonged to Al-Kuds also under
Haaretz, March 10, 00. Headline: "Barak offers Arafat: A state in return to
annexation of 10% of the West Bank"; Text: Barak offers "a limited
agreement by which Israel will recognize a Palestinian state declared in parts
of the West Bank and Gaza. In return, Israel will annex 10% of the West Bank...
(mainly the settlements surrounding Jerusalem...)". "Barak assumes
that if future negotiations will be carried out between two sovereign states,
the likelihood that they will be accompanied by violent activity will be
The full draft of the Shepherdstown document, leaked out by the Israeli
government, appeared in 'haaretz' and 'yediot' on 13.1.00. More details can be
found in Reinhart's "This ain't the road of peace", January 16, ZNet
4) In an interview in Haaretz' weekend magazine (17.3.00), Amos Oz explains that Asad shows no sensitivity to Israeli emotions - to "our sense of isolation and humiliation". "Asad is doing his best to humiliate us, as if it is not the Golan he wants, but that Barak will go out to him wearing underwear, with his hands up.." Hence Oz declares that although he is in principle for peace with Syria, he will not support it now.
MAKING PEACE WOULD MAKE MUCH MORE SENSE
'Yediot', Mar 30 , 2000
nothing is going to come out of this peace. Only three months ago it looked so
feasible: to bring the soldiers back home, to stop renovating shelters in the
Galilee, to forget about the northern border, and afterwards, peace like with
Egypt - including, if you wish, visiting the unseen Syrian landscapes. But
that's not what will happen.
are two narratives about what happened in the Clinton-Assad summit in Geneva.
Ours - the only one heard in Israel (and on CNN) - is that Assad just doesn't
want peace. "The masks have been unveiled", said Barak, "the
Syrian position is not ripe for the decisions which are necessary in order to
reach a peace treaty". Assad is insisting on those 500 meters in order to
humiliate us and derail the process.
second narrative can be witnessed in Robert Fisk's report in the British
"Independent": "The two men held three hours of talks, through
interpreters, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, with the Syrian leader
patiently explaining he was not going to fall into the same 'peace' trap as the
Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. He will not make peace
with Israel before guaranteeing the return of all of the occupied Golan,
captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Mr Arafat signed a peace
settlement then failed to gain a majority of the occupied West Bank or a capital
this narrative, the dispute is not over the 500 meters at all ("it was
conveyed on behalf of Assad that he is willing to compromise on the withdrawal
line, and even to full Israeli control over the whole of the Kineret coast,
while continuing to negotiate water rights"). The dispute is over the model
of the peace. There are two models in our history: in the Egyptian model, all
stages of the withdrawal and guarantees were finalized before the treaty was
signed (the later discussions concerned the autonomy for the Palestinians). The
withdrawal was set to spread over three years, and only after 2/3 of Sinai was
evacuated, embassies were set up. The Taba issue remained. Both sides held it
precious, and the Israelis used to spend their vacations on its shores. That's
why the decision regarding it was left for the end.
the Arafat model, the Oslo agreement was signed with almost nothing agreed upon,
besides Israeli declarations of principle about willingness for a withdrawal.
Seven years later, it turns out that the Palestinians have halted the Intifadah,
but Arafat didn't get anything of what was promised to him in the west bank.
What was realized was the autonomy plan which the Palestinians always rejected.
is saying that he will agree to a Sadat style peace, and not to an Arafat style
one. Barak is demanding that he will first sign, open embassies and fight the
Hizbollah. And then, if we will be satisfied, we will withdraw. This is the
Arafat model. Barak does not agree to the Sadat model.
there is no peace. But without peace, Lebanon is the Israeli Vietnam, and life
in the northern towns is hell. But it's ok, there is an answer: 'unilateral
withdrawal'. The US is threatening Syria that it is supporting this plan, and
has already begun to pressure Arab leaders to support it as well. It is a little
hard to understand why one needs to threaten anyone to agree to an Israeli
withdrawal from Lebanon - what everybody in the region has been demanding all
along. But "unilateral withdrawal" is the code name for a plan which
Sharon has already proposed three years ago: we will withdraw unilaterally while
creating some kind of provocation (such as, not fully withdraw) and then, with
the first missile, we will go on a total war. The world will be on our side,
because we have withdrawn. Since our soldiers are no longer there, it would now
be possible to burn the earth from the air.
and others have mentioned this "Kosovo plan" several times. This is
what is being prepared in the north. And if it will prove necessary, "we
will also attack Syrian targets".
and Sharon are counting on the fact that Assad is currently weak, and his army
is not what it used to be. So this time there will be no missiles and no sealed
rooms. Maybe they are right, but who wants to check? And if they will succeed
this time, how long will it last? Making peace by the Sadat model would make
much more sense. There is still time to stop this summer's war.