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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Morass of Middle East Diplomacy

At the American Thinker, Rachel Neuwirth sorts out the reasons that diplomacy has failed to bring a resolution to the Arab-Israeli Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Neuwirth takes several diplomats to task for falling into a sort of groupthink:
What is wrong with this broadly shared mindset? There is something about diplomats that we cannot fathom, especially with regard to the Middle East conflict. It seems that they all operate at what we may call “level C.” They all accept as a given:

• a final objective is create a new peaceful Palestinian state in the “West Bank” and Gaza;

• a set of assumptions: negotiations based on the Oslo Accords or on the Roadmap will bring peace;

• and a basic principle of “land for peace.”

From there, all their activities, speeches, writings, meetings and activities are focused on the mechanics of implementation, such as:

How could we bring Arafat back to the table?

What number of prisoners should Israel liberate as a confidence building measure?

How can we schedule the dismantling of Jewish settlements?

How could we reduce the hardship of Palestinians at checkpoints?

How could we make Hamas appear as a legitimate partner of negotiations?

And on and on.
The problem, says Neuwirth, is that the diplomats are trying to move forward without answering some necessary basic questions:
In 1997, Angelo M. Codevilla – a Professor of International Relations at Boston University – detected in the Oslo Accords “a pernicious utopian virus” and he lamented that no effort was made “to ascertain that the objectives of the two parties are compatible.” Eight years later, Ross seems to have come to the same conclusion. But he and others are still persevering in the same track, without realizing that such an incompatibility of objectives is a blatant departure from the basis of any political negotiation.

This is where some attention to “level B” would have been most welcome in highlighting the governing principles of the conflict and clarifying a few anomalies:

What is behind the spontaneous creation of a newly minted “Palestinian people” by the Arab nations in the late 1960s?

What are the true objectives of the Palestinians?

Can a new Palestinian state created in the “West Bank” and Gaza be peaceful and viable?

Why do we believe what Arabs say in English and we ignore or dismiss what they say in Arabic?

Is peace possible within the present framework?
Neuwirth ends up calling for a radically different solution to the problem:

First, the fallacy of the ongoing political dogma should be recognized: the objective is wrong (A new Palestinian state carved out of Israel as defined by the Mandate); the “land for peace” principle is wrong; the many assumptions that have gained currency with time are also wrong (“inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”; “illegal settlements built on occupied Palestinian land”; “Jerusalem as the third holy city of Islam”). A bold stance on the historical/legal truths should not be an obstacle to peace unless the world is willing to sacrifice the integrity of Israel on the altar of dubious geopolitical interests. But if such is the case, we should expect less hypocrisy and certainly no selective application of international law.

Among the various alternatives to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict, the P.A.I.R. (Plan for Arab-Israeli Reconciliation Initiative) deserves serious consideration. Let us remember that funding of up to 30 billion dollars was earmarked at Camp David II for the settlement of Palestinian refugees. This amount would be far better spent in developing a new state in the region (if such is the wish of Palestinians) where land is available without geographic restrictions and without infringing on international law.

But pursuing any of the “peace plans” which have been tossed around since 1993 will only lead to a morass of clumsy arrangements and preposterous negotiations.
I took a look at the P.A.I.R.'s summary description. Part II calls for the following:
Part II outlines a phased, peaceful, long-term resettlement solution with compelling reasons for its support. The Palestinian Arabs would be offered a far better future than under any competing plan. Many related issues are addressed. One glance at the map of the Middle East virtually shouts out the logical solution. Twenty two Arab states already have 99.8% of the land and can easily accommodate resettlement of their Palestinian Arab brethren with ample land for them on which to live and thrive in their own independent state. Jews with only 0.2% of the land also need more space, not less space, and space that is also free of hostile Arabs, so they too can live and develop securely in a State of Israel that can permanently maintain its Jewish character.

There are no practical reasons why an orderly and peaceful resettlement plan cannot work, and work smoothly. Given the right attitudes this conflict becomes among the most easily solvable. And Saudi Arabia is a prime candidate to offer 35,000 square miles, comprising only 4% of their vast territory, for a Palestinian Arab State which would be 15 times the size of the West Bank and Gaza combined. It is now time for the Saudi rulers themselves to ‘take a risk for peace.’
Yes, it's time for the Saudis to take a 'risk for peace.' But hell (and Mecca) are likely to freeze over before that happens.


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