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Friday, March 23, 2007

Israel can't give enough of Jerusalem to satisfy the Arabs

Captain Ed Morrissey raises the issue of Jerusalem in his discussion of the Saudi plan this morning. The Captain claims that Olmert, by accepting the 'Saudi plan' would be going even further than Ehud Barak went, by returning to the 1967 borders. Maybe, but not by much:
Ehud Olmert took a step yesterday that not even Ehud Barak made in his quest to reach a comprehensive peace plan with the Palestinians. In Tel Aviv yesterday, Olmert embraced the Saudi initiative, which calls for a partition of Jerusalem, a return to 1967 borders, and the end of all settlements.


In exchange for openness to the Saudi initiative, the Israelis want to see some modifications. The right of return has to go, although the Israelis might still be open to trading more territory in exchange for that point, as Barak suggested at Wye. They want the plan to include "confidence building" stages in order to ensure that Israeli security remains at the forefront. They also want to make sure that the borders Israel accepts are defensible against another attack through the territories -- the reason Israel occupies them in the first place, a point that many conveniently forget. The Arab nations attacked Israel twice through those lands when they belonged to Jordan.
Actually, Barak did try to divide Jerusalem at Camp David and even more so at the Taba talks in January 2001 (by which time he was a lame duck for all intents and purposes). He was willing to give the 'Palestinians' all of the Arab neighborhoods in the city (nearly all neighborhoods in Jerusalem are either entirely Arab or entirely Jewish, although mapping them would look like a crazy quilt). In fact, he tried to give them the neighborhoods before he went to Camp David. Fortunately, he failed. Had he succeeded, you would have had a lot more suburbs like Gilo being shot at from a lot more Arab villages like Beit Jallah and Beit Sahur. Yours truly could have been a target - we live about 300 meters from an Arab village. Yes, in Jerusalem.

Where talks broke down was over the Temple Mount. Barak tried to reach an agreement that the 'Palestinians' would control the top of the Mount, while Israel would control the ground underneath the Temple Mount. Israel would also have controlled the Jewish quarter, and would have had access to it through the Armenian quarter. The rest of the Old City would have gone to the 'Palestinians.' Arafat turned down the offer.

This sounds like a loser to me, however. Israel will not accept the partition of Jerusalem easily, nor will the nation blithely support the dismantling of its settlements in the West Bank. The forced removal of settlers in Gaza created a firestorm of criticism, and that decision involved far fewer settlers in a much less defensible area. Given Olmert's popularity, I doubt he could get the Knesset to sign off on such an agreement. After botching the war and the peace in Lebanon, not too many will trust him with the Saudi initiative.

It sounds like a loser to me too. But I have a lot less faith than Ed does in what Israelis might do were Olmert to try to implement these proposals. And Ed may not understand how the Knesset works: if any proposal is declared a 'no confidence' vote, all government ministers must vote in favor or automatically lose their ministries. And all coalition members must vote in favor or they risk the coalition falling and their losing their seats in a subsequent election. Unfortunately, the coalition includes a lot of VERY selfish people who will have no qualms about putting their own self-interest ahead of the country's. And all the polls indicate that were elections to be held today, there would be a drastic turnover in the composition of the Knesset. At least so long as Olmert continues to head Kadima Achora.
Condoleezza Rice has another round of diplomatic visits in the region, and she is expected to push the moderation of rhetoric about Israel as a forerunner to regional talks. Rice and the US have likely pushed the Saudi initiative as a replacement for the so-called Roadmap; it's doubtful Olmert would have embraced it on his own. It's hard to understand why the US keeps pushing this on Israel when the Palestinians won't support the treaties they've already signed, let alone agree to bargain in good faith with Israel now. The Bush administration should cease efforts to broker a deal until the Palestinians prove themselves ready to accept peace and a two-state solution as a permanent settlement.
Again, I disagree. Israel has been bringing its own grief upon itself without American help for many years now. I'm sure that Olmert is leading and Rice is following. I agree that the Bush administration should cease trying to promote a deal. But if Olmert keeps trying anyway, can we really expect President Bush to be more Catholic than the Pope?


At 4:37 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

oy...shabbat shalom...stay safe

At 8:04 PM, Blogger jack said...

this criminally insane, traitorous, disaster of a prime minister has to go,or else we can kiss goodbye to our beloved israel

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Rita Loca said...

Well, not sure how I ended up here but looks like I am in good company! Thanks for the news.

At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohl,ert is an idiot. No Jew will tolerate the return of even one-square inch of Jerusalem to Arab control.

When Jordan controlled East-Jerusalem (prior to the 1967 war) every Jewish religious entity was destroyed, and with no consequence!

How can any Jew think that giving the Arabs a second shot to destroy Jewish religious assetes is a good thing.

Arabs should never control any piece of Jerusalem inclding the Dome of the Rock!

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Unfortunately, all too many Jews would be too happy to give lots of Jerusalem to the Arabs. If Ehud Barak could have gotten Arafat to take it, he would have done it in 2001. Let's not fool ourselves - there are lots of Jews who would gladly give up Jerusalem for the illusion of 'peace'.


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