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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Martin Indyk goes hopey changey

Former US Ambassador to Israel and peace processor Martin Indyk writes an upbeat op-ed in Friday's New York Times in which he gives four reasons why this time - as opposed to the previous 50 times - there really is going to be 'peace' in the Middle East. I want to focus on the fourth one.
Fourth, there isn’t a lot to negotiate. In the 17 years since the Oslo accords were signed, detailed final status negotiations have dealt exhaustively with all the critical issues. If an independent Palestinian state is to be established, the zone of agreement is clear and the necessary trade-offs are already known.

Security arrangements were all but settled in 2000 at Camp David before the talks collapsed. The increased threat of rocket attacks since then, among other developments, require the two sides to agree on stricter border controls and a robust third-party force in the Jordan Valley. But one year is ample time to resolve this. In fact, if the leaders are sincere in their intent to make a deal, dragging out the negotiations would only weaken them politically and give time for the opponents of peace to rally.
That's nonsense. If this were really true, the deal would have happened already. It hasn't because the 'Palestinians' have yet to make a concession and there's no reason to believe that they are going to accept less now than Ehud Olmert offered them in 2008 nor any reason to believe that Binyamin Netanyahu is going to offer them anywhere near as much. Nor will Netanyahu agree to a third party controlling the border with Jordan.

To top it off, Indyk ignores the most intractable issues: Jerusalem and especially, 'refugees.'

There's not going to be a deal. The question is, how much will we pay in blood for pretending that there is any chance of there being a deal.

What could go wrong?


At 7:27 AM, Blogger Y.K. said...

Carl, you must he missed it, but he does mention Jerusalem and refugees in the article. He expects Nethanyahu to cede at least 95% of the WB and East Jerusalem and Abu Mazen to cede of "right of return". In short, this is a form of a dictated agreement. Indyk presents it and if the leaders are "brave" enough, they'll accept it.

IMHO, Indyk is either delusional or (more likely) flunking for his boss, since he must know this is bound to fail. Lets follow Indyk's argument:

First, Indyk mentions Arafat's double game, compared to Abu Mazen's supposed straight game. Arafat was unwilling to deal, but he might have been capable of enforcing a peace with Israel. Abu Mazen is incapable _and_ probably unwilling to deal. Some "improvement"!

Second, the settlements weren't much of a problem for a negotiation, no more than they were 16 years until Obama became president. Obama making this an issue wasted at least a year for no returns expect going back to the starting point.

Third, Indyk is wrong about the polls. All these polls have the same typical structure: large majorities for peace, but large majorities against concessions... Indyk assumes everything will magically turn around when presented with a deal (this assumption seems to be the core of his argument. Didn't the last 17 years show it wrong?). But the hesitant behaviour of certain leaders on all sides suggests they know their peoples better.

Lastly, Indyk mentions the supposedly finished peace deal. Of course, it's not so finished at all, which is why even Indyk himself wants to make amendments to it.

e.g. He wants a third-party presence in the Jordan valley. This is enough to get both sides to think "Gaza" (Israelis would also think "UNIFIL") and run away screaming. Which leads to the biggest reason why this will fail: Ultimately, the shape of the dictated plan is against the core interests of both sides as they define it. America can't force either to sign, much less both of them.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

As Dore Gold pointed out, Israel must insist on sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem to meaningfully protect its security and national interests. If Israel gives them up, then the Jewish State would living on borrowed time.

Yair is right that Netanyahu will be under intense pressure to capitulate. And he has shown no ability to stand up to Obama when the heat is on. There will be no agreement and when the talks break down we know who will get blamed. Israel is in the unenviable position of either surrendering on a Palestinian state with none of its demands met or being blamed for blocking peace.

The point is neither side can sign an agreement that does not accommodate the core requirements of the other. The Palestinians will not concede on a Jewish State and on the Jordan Valley/Jerusalem and Israel will not concede on the revanants and will not return to the pre-1967 borders.

There is no reason to believe an agreement will be in the cards and the next year. And Martin Indyk ignores the elephant in the room: Hamas and the Iranian-Arab rejectionist front. They are likely to make sure any agreement that is reached a dead letter.

What could go wrong indeed


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