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Monday, August 20, 2007

Israel's surrender advocates

For those of you who think that 'no one' in Israel would hand the Temple Mount over to the 'Palestinians,' allow me to introduce you to Akiva Eldar, a regular columnist for Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily. Eldar, an adherent of 'Israeliness' as a replacement for Jewishness, is ready to hand the Temple Mount over to the 'Palestinians' - and also to admit thousands, if not millions, of 'Palestinian refugees' to Israel - because otherwise there won't be a deal.
The international summit being organized by the Bush administration is Abbas' last throw of the dice. In the zero-sum game between him and Hamas, the loss of the bet will mean a victory for the camp that rejects a two-state solution. The only way that Israel and the United States can affect the struggle in the Palestinian camp is to take away the main contentious elements preoccupying the religious extremists - the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and the problem of the 1948 refugees - and to hand them over to the moderate secularists. On the other hand, if Abbas emerges from the negotiations without sovereignty over the Temple Mount and without Israeli recognition of the issue of the refugees as proposed by the Arab League (an agreed solution on the basis of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194) - he might as well stay home.

In December 2000 then president Bill Clinton reached the conclusion that there would not be an Arab partner in a peace agreement without Palestinian or Islamic sovereignty over the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Gilad Sher, representing Barak in the meeting at which Clinton presented his plan, wrote in his book "Merhak negia" ("Just Beyond Reach"), that the president suggested that the Haram al-Sharif [the Noble Sanctuary, or Temple Mount], including the plaza and the mosques, would constitute Palestinian sovereign territory, and that the Western Wall and its complex would be under Israeli sovereignty. Sher says that during the cabinet discussion on the Clinton plan, Barak told the ministers he was not willing to be a party to such an arrangement, and said: "I have no intention of signing a document that will transfer sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Palestinians."

If Barak B intends to adopt the approach of Barak A, he should inform U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that it is all a waste of time and that she should spare what's left of President Bush's prestige.

The continued dispute over the excavations the Palestinians are carrying out in the Temple Mount complex suggests that transfering sovereignty to them is no more than a virtual concession for Israel. An agreement that will include UNESCO supervision over the excavations and free access to the Israelis will improve the situation vis-a-vis this sensitive area. Receiving the prestigious keys to the holy site will bolster the pragmatists among the Palestinians, and will make it easier for them to relinquish their wish to use the keys to homes they left behind in Jaffa.


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