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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Deja vu all over again

Haaretz is reporting this morning that Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert has offered to reach an 'agreement of principles' with 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen, leaving the 'difficult' issues to the end. This discredited approach should sound familiar to all of you:

Sept. 13, 1993

Oslo peace accord signed; core issues to be resolved later

photo of clinton, rabin & arafat

The historic Oslo accord is signed at the White House. Palestinians and Israelis agree to recognize the other's right to exist: "It is time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict" and "strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace." Soon Israel begins its promised withdrawal from lands occupied since the 1967 war; Jericho and Gaza are transferred to the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat -- Israel's implacable enemy for 30 years -- returns from exile to establish the Palestinian Authority. The parties agree that the most sensitive "final status" issues -- permanent borders, Jewish settlements, Palestinian refugees, and Jerusalem -- will be addressed later.

But Ehud K. Olmert is desperate....
Olmert's proposal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is based on his view that it is important to first discuss issues that are relatively easy for the two sides to agree upon. No less important is Olmert's assessment that such an accord will enjoy the overwhelming support of the Israeli public and the Knesset.

If Olmert's proposal is accepted by the Palestinians, the two sides will begin negotiations on the characteristics of the Palestinian state, its official institutions, its economy, and the customs arrangement it will have with Israel.

After an "Agreement of Principles," the two sides will tackle the more sensitive diplomatic issues, like final borders and the transit arrangements.

Such agreement is believed to offer both Abbas and Olmert domestic political gains, and the Palestinian leader will be able to use it as part of his reelection campaign.
The next sentence will throw a lot of you for a loop:
According to surveys, Olmert knows that the Israeli public is overwhelmingly supportive of a two-state solution, and that the current balance of power in the Knesset will allow him to rally a firm majority of 82 MKs behind such an agreement.
The Israeli public is a bit smarter than Olmert and most of them believe that the 'two-state solution' is not likely to happen in our lifetimes. But unfortunately, the Israeli public is in such a funk that it cannot get up the activity necessary to depose a government with a 3% approval rating. That's why the louse can go on fooling people that he represents somebody. As to the 82 MK's, they are all so hung up on maintaining their own positions in the Knesset that nothing else matters for them.

The new 'principles' sound remarkably like the old ones, except that Olmert realizes he cannot politically give up the Old City of Jerusalem. But the 'Palestinians' will never accept that provision anyway:
The likely principles that Olmert will offer as part of the the agreement will be the establishment of a Palestinian state comprising about 90 percent of the territory of the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

Even prior to the 2006 elections, Olmert suggested that Israel unilaterally evacuate from such territory in the West Bank, and withdraw to the separation fence, for the primary purpose of retaining a Jewish majority in its territory, behind a defensible border.

Palestinian support for such agreement will contribute to Israeli public and political support for the deal.

*Exchange of territory to compensate for the large settlement blocs that will remain under Israeli control in the West Bank.

*Connecting the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through a tunnel in order to offer the Palestinians territorial contiguity, prevent friction between Israelis and Palestinians, and preserve security.

Israel will request territorial compensation for the digging of a tunnel in its sovereign territory. From Israel's point of view, a tunnel connecting the West Bank and the Strip is the best option to link the two, and is better than the elevated or sunken highway proposals.

*The Palestinians will be able to declare Jerusalem their capital. In the past Olmert has hinted that he would be willing to withdraw from the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem "on the edge," which have never been considered part of the historical city.

The Old City, its environs and the Mount of Olives would remain in Israel's control.
Insanity, said Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Israeli leadership is insane. This time, we are going back to 1993. When will we ever learn?

Update 9:51 PM

Olmert has confirmed the Haaretz report.


At 4:38 PM, Blogger Anne K said...

Carl, I agree with this post 100%. But I have a question for you - how can we overthrow our government when we have no say in its composition, or even in its staying in power at all, once elections are over. The Israeli public can actually exert no pressure on the Knesset at all. There is no real way for us to pressure the government, especially if they ignore even massive demonstrations, not to mention polls and such like.

So it's not just that the Israeli public is in a funk. It is a futile effort to try and do anything. I would gladly listen to any practical suggestions you may have.

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


The only suggestion I have is to take to the streets and let the politicians' self-preservation instincts kick in.


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