"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.


Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:39 pm


Peace prospects seemed to improve in July 1988, when King Hussein decided to reduce Jordan's administrative role in the West Bank, and Yasir Arafat announced that the PLO would accept several United Nations resolutions that recognized Israel's right to exist within its 1967 borders. Arafat publicly disavowed terrorism as a means to achieve PLO goals and agreed that, with the formation of an independent Palestinian state, normal relations with Israel would be acceptable. Based on these statements, United States diplomats began exploratory talks with PLO officials.

The glasnost policies of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev helped to end the Cold War, making it possible for the two superpowers to cooperate, and at the same time, Syria and other Arab nations lost their strong political and military support from Moscow and became more willing to ease tensions in the region. Arab leaders accepted Egypt back into the Arab League in May 1989, and that same year the USSR permitted hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel.

Secretary of State James Baker understood the need to ease tension in the Middle East and in May 1990 stated to the annual convention of the powerful pro-Israeli lobbying organization AIPAC the basic requirement for peace: "Now is the time to lay aside once and for all the unrealistic vision of a Greater Israel. ... Forswear annexation. Stop settlement activity. Reach out to the Palestinians as neighbors who deserve political rights."

These statements had a beneficial impact in the Middle East. For instance, when I visited Damascus in 1990, President Assad informed me that he was willing to negotiate with Israel on the status of the Golan Heights. His proposal was that both sides withdraw from the international border, with a small force of foreign observers and electronic devices to monitor the neutral zone. When I asked him if each nation would have to fall back an equal distance, he replied that Syria might move its troops farther from the border because of the terrain. He also gave me permission to report his proposal to Washington and to the Israelis, which I did in Jerusalem three days later. The following month I met with Yasir Arafat and other PLO leaders in Paris, where they all agreed to accept the Camp David Accords as a basis for future negotiations with the Israelis.

As usual, I reported these conversations to the White House and State Department, but Washington was almost totally preoccupied with the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.

There was no sustained American leadership in the Middle East peace process until after the Gulf War against Iraq in the spring of 1991, when Baker made several trips to the region. This resumption made possible a peace conference in Madrid in October 1991, convened jointly by the United States and the Soviet Union and attended by Israel, several Arab countries including Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, and Palestinians from the occupied territories. Subsequently, more than a dozen formal rounds of bilateral talks were hosted by the United States, aimed at peace agreements between Israel and its immediate neighbors. The discussions between Israel and the Palestinians addressed a five-year interim agreement with hopes of negotiations on the permanent status issues. Although the Madrid effort brought no specific resolution of the issues, the willingness of the participants to communicate with one another reduced regional tensions and renewed hope of future progress toward peace.

Still, Israel put confiscation of Palestinian land ahead of peace, provoking an official White House statement: "The United States has opposed, and will continue to oppose, settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967, which remain an obstacle to peace." From the State Department, Secretary Baker added, "I don't think there is any greater obstacle to peace than settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an advanced pace." As further proof of his seriousness, President George H. W Bush demanded a freeze on settlement housing being built or planned, especially a large complex between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. When he finally threatened to withhold a portion of the $10 million daily aid package, plus loan guarantees, from the United States, the Israeli government complied and the U.S. grants and loans were approved -- but with a deduction of $400 million, the amount that Israel already had spent on settlement activity. Later, after President Bush was no longer in office, I noticed that this major settlement was being rapidly completed.

Political leadership in Israel changed several times during this period, including formation of national unity governments that shifted authority back and forth between Labor and Likud leaders. After an election victory in June 1992, the Labor Party was able to form a coalition under the leadership of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, without Likud participation. Israel then made clear its desire to reconcile differences with the Palestinians, Syria, and its other neighbors, and the Arab response was surprisingly positive.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:40 pm


It was during this period of relative goodwill under Rabin's leadership that, without America's involvement, Norway's Foreign Minister Johann Hoist, Professor Terje Larsen, and their wives helped to orchestrate highly secret peace talks between the government of Israel and the PLO. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin had a series of more than a dozen sessions, mostly in Oslo, with PLO leader Yasir Arafat's team, headed by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala). During the early months of 1993, both Peres and Arafat kept me informed about these efforts.

I was in the northern part of Yemen in August 1993 when I received an urgent request from Arafat to meet him in Tirana. I returned to the capital city by helicopter and found the PLO leader almost beside himself with excitement. He told me that the peace talks had been successful and that the Israelis were flying to the United States to inform the Clinton administration about the achievement. Above all else, Arafat emphasized the provision in the agreement that called for the formation of a Palestinian National Authority with the election of a president and members of a national assembly.

A few weeks later, Rosalynn and I were invited to a signing ceremony at the White House, where President Bill Clinton presided and Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat were to make a public declaration of peace. I was ushered to a prominent seat among the observers, along with other public officials, and my wife was a row or two behind me. I was surprised and embarrassed to see the Norwegians, Hoist and Larsen, far back in the crowd and to notice that their key role in the peace effort was not mentioned.

In sum, the Oslo Agreement provided for a phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces from the West Bank, the establishment of a Palestinian governing authority with officials to be elected, and a five-year interim period during which the more difficult and specific issues would be negotiated. Athough Rabin, Peres, and Arafat all received the Nobel Peace Prize for their historic achievement, there was strong opposition from radical elements on both sides.

As part of the agreement, in September 1993, Chairman Arafat sent a letter to Prime Minister Rabin in which he stated unequivocally that the PLO recognized the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, accepted U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, committed itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, renounced the use of terrorism and other acts of violence, affirmed that those articles of the PLO covenant that deny Israel's right to exist were no longer valid, and promised to submit these commitments to the Palestinian National Council for formal changes to the covenant.

Although Israel recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians in the peace negotiations and promised five years of further progress, Arafat had failed to obtain other specific concessions concerning a timetable for Israel's withdrawal from occupied territories. In effect, what he got from the Oslo Agreement was the assurance of organizing a form of Palestinian government and staying in power so that he could administer Palestinian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israelis wanted and achieved much more.

It must be remembered that the status of Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza had changed dramatically in 1987 with the first intifada. Earlier, Israeli Jews in the West Bank had almost complete freedom of safe movement and required minimum military protection -- about 10,000 troops in all the occupied territories. The relatively harmonious administration of local affairs by respected Palestinian notables already had been replaced in 1981 by Ariel Sharon with some "village leagues," often composed of outcast Palestinians who were willing to be hired by the Israelis. Dissension and danger prevailed. By 1988, no Israeli could travel in the area without Palestinian guides and some prior assurances of safe passage, and 180,000 Israeli troops were deployed to protect settlers and preserve the peace. With the Oslo Agreement, Israel's plan was that Arafat and the PLO would assume responsibility for local administration, free to receive and distribute (or perhaps retain a portion of) the international financial support that would be available to the Palestinians.

Following Oslo, Prime Minister Rabin emphasized that the agreement for which he had been honored had avoided the tight restrictions accepted by Menachem Begin at Camp David:

We ourselves obtained this concession from the Palestinians -- from those with whom one should make such deals -- without any American promises as in the Camp David agreements. Jewish settlements will be placed under an exclusive Israeli jurisdiction; the [Palestinian] Autonomy Council will have no authority over them. The forces of the Israeli army will be redeployed in locations determined only by us, unlike the Camp David agreements which mandated a withdrawal of the Israeli army forces. In the agreement we reached we didn't consent to use the formula "withdrawal of Israeli army forces" except when it applied to the Gaza Strip. In application to all other places the only term used is "redeployment." ... I prefer that the Palestinians cope with the problem of enforcing order in Gaza. The Palestinians will be better at it than we were because they will allow no appeals to the Supreme Court and will prevent the [Israeli] Association for Civil Rights from criticizing the conditions there by denying it access to the area. They will rule there by their own methods, freeing -- and this is most important -- the Israeli army soldiers from having to do what they will do.

A key advantage that the Oslo Agreement gave to Israel was the shedding of formal responsibility for the living conditions and welfare of the territories' rapidly increasing population, still completely dominated by Israeli forces.

Prime Minister Rabin soon concluded a peace accord with Jordan and announced his willingness to negotiate with the Syrians, and he and Arafat concluded an agreement in May 1994 that applied to the Gaza Strip and to Jericho and its environs. It addressed four main issues: security arrangements, civil affairs, legal matters, and economic relations, and it pledged withdrawal of Israeli military forces from a number of Palestinian communities, including Gaza and Jericho, and a transfer of some civil authority from the Israeli Civil Administration to a Palestinian authority. There was also a commitment for elections to form a governmental structure for the Palestinians. The hope for further steps toward peace following the Oslo Agreement was severely damaged with the assassination of Rabin in November 1995 by an Israeli right-wing religious fanatic, who declared that his goal was to interrupt the peace process.

There was still some goodwill remaining from Oslo two months later, as indicated in this excerpt from President Clinton's memoir, My Life:

Shimon Peres came to see me for the first time as prime minister, to reaffirm Israel's intention to turn over Gaza, Jericho, other major cities and 450 villages in the West Bank to the Palestinians by Christmas and to release at least another 1,000 Palestinian prisoners before the coming Israeli elections.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:41 pm


One of the most important commitments of The Carter Center is to promote democracy in nations that face their first experience with elections or have a ruling party so powerful (or corrupt) that opposition candidates are hesitant to seek office. Although we have no authority over the local people, we respond to requests from governments, political parties, and national election officials to participate. Since our time and funding are limited, we offer our services only when we believe that our presence is necessary to ensure free and fair elections. Carter Center teams have monitored more than sixty elections, but three of the most interesting, challenging, and important have been for the Palestinian people.

Although I had met with other PLO leaders in Egypt and Syria beginning in 1983, my first personal meeting with Yasir Arafat was during a visit to Paris in April 1990. Rosalynn was with me to take notes, and Arafat had a large entourage of his top leaders. He was surprisingly friendly and obviously grateful to discuss Palestinian issues directly with a prominent American. His associates treated him with great deference, but Arafat was reluctant to give any clear answers to substantive and sensitive questions without first having a chance to reach a consensus among the many contending factions within his organization. He expressed his regrets at having rejected the Camp David Accords, admitting that he hadn't studied all its terms, including withdrawal of Israeli military and political forces from the occupied territories. He knew that I had called for a Palestinian homeland, pointed out that a democratic process would have to be the first step, and urged me to consider helping to ensure that Palestinians could elect their own government. I promised that, when the time came for any kind of election, The Carter Center and I would be deeply involved -- provided we could obtain approval from Israel. I pushed him to fulfill his Oslo promise to modify the PLO charter to accept Israel's existence, but he was equivocal in his answer.

The Palestinian leader had never had any direct contact with Israeli leaders but was quite familiar with the different political factions that contended for leadership in Jerusalem. My notes show that he had specific questions about Prime Minister Shamir and some of the younger politicians, including Yossi Beilin (who later negotiated the Geneva Initiative) and Ehud Olmert (who would become prime minister). Although I had unofficial approval from Secretary of State James Baker for what was supposed to be a private meeting, we decided to accept a last-minute invitation from President Francois Mitterrand to visit him at the Elysee Palace. This turned out to be a highly publicized event, which caused me some discomfort but was very gratifying to Arafat.

I maintained contact with Palestinian leaders after this introductory meeting, and when Israel approved an election for president and members of the Legislative Council as part of the Oslo Agreement, Arafat repeated his request to The Carter Center. We accepted the responsibility along with an organization with which we often cooperate, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a nonprofit organization devoted to strengthening democracy. This was a very interesting experience, which illustrated many of the problems and challenges in the Holy Land. When we arrived there in January 1996, it was obvious that the Israelis had almost complete control over every aspect of political, military, and economic existence of the Palestinians within the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli settlements permeated the occupied territories, and highways connecting the settlements with one another and with Jerusalem were being rapidly built, with Palestinians prohibited from using or crossing some of the key roads. In addition, more than one hundred permanent Israeli checkpoints obstructed the routes still open to Palestinian traffic, either pedestrian or vehicular.

After meeting with other members of our observer team, I had sessions with American diplomats, Palestinian pollsters, political candidates, and members of the Election Commission. I learned that the commission had been in existence for only four weeks and that political candidates had just three weeks to campaign, but seven hundred had qualified for the eighty-eight parliamentary seats, six of which were set aside for Christians and one for a Samaritan. Only Arafat and a relatively unknown woman named Samiha Khalil had qualified for the presidency.

There were many problems, which I discussed with Prime Minister Shimon Peres and General Uri Dayan, who was responsible for security in the West Bank and Gaza. They assured me that key checkpoints would be opened, Israeli soldiers would not enter voting places, and voters would not be intimidated. I had seen many posters in East Jerusalem that threatened any Arab voters with the loss of their identification cards, housing permits, and social services. Israeli leaders, who told me that a militant religious group had posted the warnings, promised to remove as many of them as possible. The biggest problem related to East Jerusalem, which Palestinians (and the international community) consider to be their occupied territory and Israelis claim as an integral part of their nation.

The key question concerning the election was whether Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were voting as residents or as aliens who were casting absentee ballots to be counted outside the disputed area. There were about 200,000 resident Arabs, only about 4,000 of whom would be given permits to vote -- and then only in five post offices, four of them quite small. Of about 120,000 registered voters, the others who had adequate determination and transportation might find their way outside Jerusalem to nearby polling sites in suburban villages, including the Mount of Olives, Ramallah, Bethany, and Bethlehem. This was a very sensitive political issue, and a failure to resolve it threatened the conduct of the election.

Rosalynn and I met with Yasir Arafat in Gaza City, where he was staying with his wife, Suha, and their little daughter. The baby, dressed in a beautiful pink suit, came readily to sit on my lap, where I practiced the same wiles that had been successful with our children and grandchildren. A lot of photographs were taken, and then the photographers asked that Arafat hold his daughter for a while. When he took her, the child screamed loudly and reached out her hands to me, bringing jovial admonitions to the presidential candidate to stay at home enough to become acquainted with his own child. During our more serious time together, I chastised Arafat for arresting Palestinian members of the news media and human rights activists, but he was unrepentant, claiming that they had stirred up strife between Muslims and Christians. I urged him to modify the Palestine National Charter to renounce violence and to recognize Israel, but he claimed that this had already been accomplished during the Oslo peace process. I also urged him to give the newly elected Legislative Council maximum autonomy, and he promised to do so, stating that they would assemble for the first time shortly after Ramadan (an annual month of fasting and prayer for Muslims that would begin that same weekend).

At Arafat's request, I then met with Mahmoud al-Zahar and other leaders of Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposed recognition of Israel, perpetrated acts of violence, and was increasingly competitive with Arafat's secular Fatah Party. I urged them to accept the results of the election and forgo violence. They promised not to disrupt the elections and to renounce violence in the future "if Israelis discontinue repression." They informed me that they intended to participate in later municipal elections but not to be part of the Legislative Council.

The issue of voting in East Jerusalem became critical before voting was to begin, and we finally worked out a compromise: to have the slots in the top edges of the ballot boxes! Palestinians could claim they were dropping in their ballots vertically as on-site votes while Israelis could maintain that the envelopes were being inserted horizontally as letters to be mailed.

On election day Rosalynn and I went from one polling station to another, and our observers heard complaints and resolved as many as we could. Quite early there were few voters in East Jerusalem, and about fifty uniformed Israeli police were around the entrances and even within the post offices, ostentatiously videotaping the face of every Palestinian who was standing in line to cast a ballot. Two domestic observers who appeared at the largest post office with their proper credentials were arrested, and one was beaten on the way to jail.

This news spread like wildfire throughout Jerusalem. At the main checkpoint where the Palestinians were going outside the city to vote, a young captain told me that his orders were to record every name. I called General Dayan to report these problems, and the checkpoints were opened, but it was around noon before the police numbers at the Jerusalem sites were reduced and the final video cameras put away. Dayan's reasoning was that they were restraining right-wing Israelis to prevent violence, but it was obvious that the Palestinian voters were intimidated, and only about 1,600 Jerusalem voters finally cast (or mailed) ballots in the city.

During the day our observer team collected and analyzed reports from about 250 voting places. Overall, about 75 percent of all registered voters cast their ballots, and in Gaza more than 85 percent voted. Of 1,696 voting places outside Jerusalem, there were problems in only two. Three Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli police at a checkpoint at Jenin, but 60 percent of the people voted in the village. The participation and enthusiasm of women was the biggest surprise for us. In Gaza and most other places where few women were ever seen in public, they jammed the polling sites.

Yasir Arafat received 88 percent of votes for president and members of his Fatah Party and affiliated independents won about 75 percent of the Legislative Council seats. After the election, I again urged that he honor the independence of the elected council, make a credible offer to Hamas and others to participate in the future, set an early date for municipal elections, and expedite the amendments to the PLO charter. Some strong independents were elected, including Hanan Ashrawi, an influential Christian spokesperson from Ramallah. Everyone laughed when Arafat told me there were going to be about fifteen women on the council, adding that "Hanan counts for ten."

It was obvious that release of almost 5,000 of the Palestinian prisoners being held by the Israelis and the possibility of progress on the permanent issues would be predicated on good-faith action by both sides. Prime Minister Peres announced that all members of the Palestinian National Council (legislative body of the PLO) would be permitted to travel to the West Bank and Gaza in order to amend the PLO charter. This was welcome news, since many of the more active members of the Fatah Party had long been accused by the Israelis of being terrorists and not given travel permits within their own land. The new president established his office in Ramallah and continued the struggle to obtain complete Palestinian control of the West Bank and Gaza, which remained occupied by Israel.

All of us international observers were pleased with the quality of the election, which was nothing less than an over- whelming mandate, not only for forming a Palestinian government but also for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. We also were reminded of the extreme sensitivity and difficulty of issues still to be resolved.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:42 pm


Unfortunately for the peace process, Palestinian terrorists carried out two lethal suicide bombings in March 1996, a few weeks after the Palestinian election. Thirty-two Israeli citizens were killed, an act that probably gave the Likud's hawkish candidate, Binyamin Netanyahu, a victory over Prime Minister Shimon Peres. The new leader of Israel promised never to exchange land for peace. Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon declared the Oslo Agreement to be "national suicide" and stated, "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours. ... Everything we don't grab will go to them." This policy precipitated Israel's tightened hold on the occupied territories and aroused further violence from the Palestinians.


Map 6: Palestinian Interpretation of Clinton's Proposal 2000


Israeli Interpretation of Clinton's Proposal 2000

With Arafat now an officially elected leader, President Bill Clinton made strong and sustained efforts to find some reasonable accommodation between Israelis and Palestinians. A nine-day summit conference was convened at Wye Plantation in Maryland in October 1998, during which some agreements were reached involving redeployment of Israeli troops, security arrangements, prisoner releases, and the resumption of permanent status negotiations, but within a few weeks the Israeli cabinet voted to postpone execution of the Wye River Memorandum.

Even after the Labor Party's Ehud Barak was elected as prime minister in May 1999, there was a sustained commitment by Israel's government to avoid full compliance with the Oslo Agreement or with key U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, while Palestinians were reluctant to abandon any of them as the basis for permanent peace. Despite these handicaps, the United States sponsored a series of peace talks at Sharm al-Sheikh, at BoIling Air Force Base, and then at Camp David for a fourteen-day session in July 2000.

In September 2000, with Prime Minister Barak's reluctant approval, Ariel Sharon and an escort of several hundred policemen went to the Temple Mount complex, site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, where he declared that the Islamic holy site would remain under permanent Israeli control. The former military leader was accused by many Israelis of purposely inflaming emotions to provoke a furious response and obstruct any potential success of ongoing peace talks. Combining their reaction to this event with their frustration over Israel's failure to implement the Oslo Agreement, the Palestinians responded with a further outbreak of violence, which was to be known as the second intifada.

Later, during his last months in Washington, President Clinton made what he called his final proposal. Eighty percent of Israeli settlers would remain in the West Bank, and Israel could maintain its control of the Jordan River valley and an early-warning capability within the West Bank, with an additional provision for emergency deployments to meet security needs. The new state of Palestine would be demilitarized, with an international force for border security and deterrence and Palestinian sovereignty over their airspace -- except for special arrangements to meet Israeli training and operational needs.

In Jerusalem, the Arab neighborhoods would be administered by Palestinians and the Jewish neighborhoods by Israel, with Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and the "holy place" of which it is a part. Palestinian refugees could return only to the West Bank and Gaza. It was stipulated that, if accepted, this agreement would replace all the requirements of U.N. resolutions that applied to the Middle East. There was no clear response from Prime Minister Barak, but he later stated that Israel had twenty pages of reservations. President Arafat rejected the proposal.

As President Clinton made efforts to promote peace, there was a 90 percent growth in the number of settlers in the occupied territories, with the greatest increase during the administration of Prime Minister Ehud Barak. By the end of the year 2000, Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza numbered 225,000. The best offer to the Palestinians -- by Clinton, not Barak -- had been to withdraw 20 percent of the settlers, leaving more than 180,000 in 209 settlements, covering about 10 percent of the occupied land, including land to be "leased" and portions of the Jordan River valley and East Jerusalem.

The percentage figure is misleading, since it usually includes only the actual footprints of the settlements. There is a zone with a radius of about four hundred meters around each settlement within which Palestinians cannot enter. In addition, there are other large areas that would have been taken or earmarked to be used exclusively by Israel, roadways that connect the settlements to one another and to Jerusalem, and "life arteries" that provide the settlers with water, sewage, electricity, and communications. These range in width from five hundred to four thousand meters, and Palestinians cannot use or cross many of these connecting links. This honeycomb of settlements and their interconnecting conduits effectively divide the West Bank into at least two noncontiguous areas and multiple fragments, often uninhabitable or even unreachable, and control of the Jordan River valley denies Palestinians any direct access eastward into Jordan. About one hundred military checkpoints completely surround Palestine and block routes going into or between Palestinian communities, combined with an un-ccountable number of other roads that are permanently closed with large concrete cubes or mounds of earth and rocks.

There was no possibility that any Palestinian leader could accept such terms and survive, but official statements from Washington and Jerusalem were successful in placing the entire onus for the failure on Yasir Arafat. Violence in the Holy Land continued.

There were still some remaining pro forma commitments to the Oslo Agreement's "final status" peace talks to deal with Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, and relations and cooperation with neighboring countries. A new round of talks was held at Taba in January 2001, during the last few days of the Clinton presidency, between President Arafat and the Israeli foreign minister, and it was later claimed that the Palestinians rejected a "generous offer" put forward by Prime Minister Barak with Israel keeping only 5 percent of the West Bank. The fact is that no such offers were ever made. Barak later said, "It was plain to me that there was no chance of reaching a settlement at Taba. Therefore I said there would be no negotiations and there would be no elegation and there would be no official discussions and no documentation. Nor would Americans be present in the room. The only thing that took place at Taba were non-binding contacts between senior Israelis and senior Palestinians." [1]


Map 7: Sharon's Plan 2002

The election of Ariel Sharon as prime minister two months later brought an end to these efforts to find accommodation.

A government statement affirmed Israel's aspiration to achieve peace but declared that all negotiating failures had been due to the ongoing and escalating Palestinian terrorism supported by the Palestinian Authority. As the chief spokesperson for the Palestinians, responsible for promoting peace and human rights, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi responded to Israel's claims:

So far, they have succeeded in holding the peace process hostage to this mentality on the one hand. And on the other hand they have provoked tremendous violence by acts of incitement like shelling, bombing, house demolition, uprooting trees, destroying crops, assassinating political leaders, placing all Palestinians under closure in a state of total immobility -- a prison. And then they wonder why some Palestinians are acting violently! And then they want to have the right to exercise violence against the captive population. Then they like to make non-violence on the part of the Palestinians a precondition for the Palestinians to qualify for talks, let alone for statehood.



1. Despite this official disclaimer, substantive discussions were held at Taba, which proved to be the foundation for what evolved into the Geneva Initiative, to be described in Chapter 13.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:43 pm


A national election in Israel occurred soon after the inauguration of George W. Bush in January 2001. Well known for having been aggressive in dealing with Palestinians, Ariel Sharon was easily elected prime minister within the troubled environment of the new intifada. He strongly opposed the Oslo peace agreement and emphasized his total commitment to counteract attacks on Israeli citizens and armed forces -- almost all of which were occurring on Palestinian territory.

Violence increased during this second intifada, costing the lives of more than a thousand Palestinians and nearly two hundred Israelis, and late in March three crucial events occurred, almost simultaneously. On March 27, a suicide bomber took his own life in an explosion that killed thirty Israelis in the midst of a Passover holiday celebration at the Park Hotel in Netanya, a coastal city. Instant condemnations of terrorist acts came from leaders around the world, including American officials and the U.N. Secretary-General.

The next day, at the Arab League meeting in Beirut, twenty-two nations ended a long debate by endorsing a resolution introduced by Saudi Crown Prince (soon to be King) Abdullah. It offered Israel normal relations with all Arab states if Israel complied with U.N. Resolutions 194 and 242. Asked how "normal relations" were defined, the Saudis responded, "We envision a relationship between the Arab countries and Israel that is exactly like the relationship between the Arab countries and any other state." They further explained that "all occupied Arab territories" and "the return of refugees" were deliberately vague enough to allow the Israelis to settle those matters through negotiations with the Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese.

The White House responded: "President George W. Bush urges other leaders to build on the Crown Prince's ideas to address the cause of peace in the troubled region."

The next day, March 29, a massive Israeli military force surrounded and destroyed Yasir Arafat's office compound in Ramallah, leaving only a few rooms intact. Convinced that Arafat was supporting the intifada, Prime Minister Sharon informed members of his cabinet that he wanted to arrest Arafat and expel him from the Palestinian territories. "The only commitment we've made," Police Minister Uzi Landau announced, "is not to kill him." Secretary of State Colin Powell called for Sharon to "consider the consequences" of his actions and limit civilian casualties, and later the United States voted for a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding Israeli withdrawal from Ramallah, which Israel had declared to be under Palestinian self-rule in 1995. Israel ignored the resolution.

Arab diplomats accused Sharon of deliberately sabotaging the Arab peace overture, and Crown Prince Abdullah called the prime minister's assault on Arafat "a brutal, despicable, savage, inhumane and cruel action." Except for one brief interlude, Arafat was to be permanently confined to this small space until the final days of his life. Having limited contacts with his own people and with minimal remaining authority, he was still held responsible by the Israelis for every act of violence within the occupied territories.

Responding to strong international pressure to break the costly impasse, in June 2002, President George W. Bush announced a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which was the first time an American leader had described the future Palestinian government as potentially sovereign. However, the president precluded any further involvement in the process by the Palestinians' only elected leader, Yasir Arafat, declaring, "Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born." Responsibility for a lack of progress toward peace was placed on the Palestinians, and President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon declared that the response to any violent actions on their part was to be equated with the global war against terrorism.

The only American demands on the Israelis were that they return to the military positions they had occupied before September 2000, when violence had erupted after Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount, refrain from any new settlement activity in the occupied territories, and negotiate terms sometime in the future for ultimate compliance with U.N. Resolution 242, after the Palestinians demonstrated their ability to stop all violent resistance in the occupied territories. Prime Minister Sharon quickly accepted the elements of the proposal that concerned Palestinian violence. The Palestinians maintained that almost 200,000 Israeli occupying troops could not prevent every act of potential violence, and it would not be possible for their imprisoned and isolated leader to guarantee total peace, especially with only a few of their security force permitted to have sidearms or communications equipment.

Since Arafat was not acceptable to Bush or Sharon as an interlocutor, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was chosen as the first prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in March 2003. Abbas was known as "the face of Palestinian moderation" and the chief architect of the Oslo Agreement; his choice was strongly supported by Israel and the United States. Arafat also responded favorably, claiming that this change was just an endorsement of his own reform efforts. In fact, it led to no genuine peace talks with Israel and to a struggle between Abbas and Arafat over control of security services.

In April 2003 a "Roadmap" for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was announced by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on behalf of the United States, the United Nations, Russia, and the European Union (known as the Quartet). Annan stated,

Such a settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors. The settlement will end the occupation that began in 1967, based on the Madrid Conference terms of reference and the principle of land for peace, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the Arab initiative proposed by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and endorsed by the Arab Summit in Beirut.

The Palestinians accepted the road map in its entirety, but the Israeli government announced fourteen caveats and prerequisites, some of which would preclude any final peace talks (see Appendix 7 for the full list). Israeli provisos included:

1. The total dismantling of all militant Palestinian sub-groups, collection of all illegal weapons, and their destruction;

2. Cessation of incitement against Israel, but the Roadmap cannot state that Israel must cease violence and incitement against the Palestinians;

3. Israeli control over Palestine, including the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, plus its airspace and electro-magnetic spectrum (radio, television, radar, etc.);

4. The waiver of any right of return of refugees to Israel;

5. No discussion of Israeli settlement in Judaea, Samaria, and Gaza or the status of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions in Jerusalem;

6. No reference to the key provisions of U.N. Resolution 242.

The practical result of all this is that the Roadmap for Peace has become moot, with only two results: Israel has been able to use it as a delaying tactic with an endless series of preconditions that can never be met, while proceeding with plans to implement its unilateral goals; and the United States has been able to give the impression of positive engagement in a "peace process," which President Bush has announced will not be fulfilled during his time in office.

A Middle East summit meeting, hosted by Jordanian King Abdullah II and attended by President Bush, Prime Minister Sharon, and Prime Minister Abbas, was held in Aqaba, Jordan, in June 2003 for a general discussion of the Roadmap's step-by-step process. Some phrases of the closing statements were quite interesting, as I have italicized. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said,

The Government and people of Israel welcome the opportunity to renew direct negotiations according to the steps of the Roadmap as adopted by the Israeli government. ... We can also reassure our Palestinian partners that we understand the importance of territorial contiguity in the West Bank, for a viable, Palestinian state. Israeli policy in the territories that are subject to direct negotiations with the Palestinians will reflect this fact....

We accept the principle that no unilateral actions by any party can prejudge the outcome of our negotiations.

President George Bush responded, "I'm also pleased to be with Prime Minister Abbas. He represents the cause of freedom and statehood for the Palestinian people. I strongly support that cause. ... In addition, Prime Minister Sharon has stated that no unilateral actions by either side can or should prejudge the outcome of future negotiations."

Abbas resigned from his post in October, citing his exclusion from substantive peace efforts by Israel and the United States and some opposition to his role from within the PLO.

Although the initial proposals and timetable for the Roadmap for Peace have been largely ignored or abandoned, the statement on basic elements of a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been retained by the Quartet members, including an end of the occupation begun in 1967 and full commitment to the key U.N. resolutions.

The International Quartet realizes that Israel must have a lasting and comprehensive peace. This will not be possible unless Israel accepts the terms of the Roadmap and reverses its colonizing the internationally recognized Palestinian territory, and unless the Palestinians respond by accepting Israel's right to exist, free of violence.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:00 pm


With concerted peace talks going nowhere after Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush took office, a group of Israelis and Palestinians continued to build upon the Taba talks that had been held during the final days of the Clinton administration. Leaders of the effort were former Israeli deputy prime minister Beilin and former Palestinian minister of information and culture Yasser Abed Rabbo. In October 2001, I had a call from Beilin, an experienced political leader who had been in the forefront of peace efforts, including the Oslo negotiations and those of more recent years. He had consulted with his associates in Egypt and the PLO, who suggested that I might be of help in resolving some differences that had arisen in the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

I met with Beilin that same month, and he described their ongoing efforts to reach an agreement on the three most difficult issues: settlements, including permanent boundaries; the right of return of Palestinians; and Jerusalem. The ultimate goal would be to issue a peace proposal, evolved without official Israeli or Palestinian government endorsement, which would be fair, balanced, and potentially acceptable to both sides. In such an unofficial arrangement, I did not feel constrained to get the usual approval from Washington for my participation.

Beilin and I communicated regularly, and about a year later he felt that there would soon be something to report to the world. We believed that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians would welcome a comprehensive agreement even if it meant making substantial concessions on settlements and the other major issues. The extensive talks had produced key points of accommodation, including a potential boundary based on detailed aerial photographs that would expand the internationally recognized area of Israel into the West Bank enough to encompass about half of the Israeli settlers living there. Reasonable proposals regarding shared access to Jerusalem and the limited right of return of Palestinians were also included.


Map 8: Geneva Initiative 2003

Although there was still much work to be done, I promised to help with publicity and promotion once a final agreement was reached. In October 2002 I learned that I had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and I proposed that the forthcoming awards ceremonies in Oslo and Stockholm would provide an opportunity to unveil the peace proposal and attract world attention to it. However, the Swedish government rejected this request from Beilin and Rabbo because of its potentially controversial nature, and to avoid confusion with Nobel events. With more discussions needed, I sent the director of The Carter Center conflict resolution program to work with the negotiators.

The final draft was concluded in October 2003, and I published an op-ed article describing the peace proposal and then delivered the keynote address in Geneva, Switzerland, in December to a large audience of Israelis, Palestinians, and influential world leaders at a launching ceremony and celebration.

The Initiative provides for secure borders and overwhelming recognition by the Arab world for Israel and a sovereign, contiguous, viable state for Palestinians recognized by the international community. More specifically, the dividing border would be based on the 1967 lines but with a mutual exchange of land, giving Israel some of its largest settlements, Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. An international religious authority would control central holy sites, with the Temple Mount officially under Palestinian sovereignty and the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter of the Old City under Israeli sovereignty. Israel would decide unilaterally how many Palestinian refugees would be admitted to Israel, and other refugees could return to Palestine or receive appropriate compensation as a fulfillment of U.N. Security Council Resolution 194. [1]

Although it is an unofficial document that will require modifications if and when official and sincere peace talks are held, the Geneva Initiative envisions a reasonable and mutually acceptable permanent agreement. An overwhelming number of both Israelis and Palestinians want a durable two-state solution, based on well-known criteria that have been pelled out in the Quartet's Roadmap and are compatible with the Geneva Initiative. Polling by the James Baker Institute revealed that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians approved the Geneva principles, despite strong opposition from some top political leaders.

There were public endorsements from Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Jacques Chirac, President Bill Clinton, and about eighty other world leaders and Nobel aureates including Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, and John Hume. The most significant fact is that the Geneva Initiative overcomes what seems to be a fatal (perhaps deliberate) flaw of the Roadmap: the easily delayed or aborted step-by- step procedure that could postpone decisive negotiations indefinitely. Sharon condemned the Geneva Initiative and there was silence from the White House, but Secretary of State Colin Powell supported the Initiative and met with the key negotiators for a personal briefing. Arafat approved the process but did not endorse the final text, and the more militant Palestinian factions condemned the proposal's abandonment of the full right of return of displaced Arabs to Israel and the West Bank.

The Geneva proposals made a substantial impact in Israel and may have brought about a dramatic change in policy. Contravening the rejection of unilateral action made by Prime Minister Sharon at Aqaba a year earlier, in June 2004 Israel's cabinet approved a plan for disengagement from the Gaza Strip without consultation with the Palestinian leaders. This proposal was welcomed by the United States and approved by most Palestinians. Living among 1.3 million Palestinians, the 8,000 Israeli settlers were controlling 40 percent of the arable land and more than one-half the water resources, and 12,000 troops were required to defend their presence.



1. The complete text of the Geneva Initiative can be found at
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:00 pm


Yasir Arafat died in November 2004, and Palestinian law required that his successor be elected within a few weeks. Once again, The Carter Center was asked to observe the process, with the National Democratic Institute as a partner.

I arrived in Israel on January 6, 2005, and my first meeting was with Prime Minister Sharon, who immediately expressed confidence that he had sufficient votes in the Knesset to overcome opposition to the Gaza withdrawal. He estimated that about 30 percent of the settlers would leave voluntarily (with generous monetary compensation) and the others would resist, perhaps a small number even with violence. The southern Negev, the location of his own family farm, was to be their primary destination for resettlement. We exchanged reminiscences of our joint experiences during the past years, and I thanked him for his positive influence on Prime Minister Begin when I was negotiating peace agreements as president. He stated that Israeli checkpoints would be manned by soldiers during the Palestinian election but would not impede traffic, and that military forces would be withdrawn from the major cities. Having observed Sharon in action for almost three decades, I had no doubt that he would fulfill his promises.

Although our team maintained complete neutrality among competing candidates, our hope was that the election of a moderate and respected leader would bring an early resumption of the long-stalled peace process. I urged Sharon to be more flexible in permitting Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem, but his response was that the arrangements of 1996 would prevail. He reminded me that I had been instrumental in negotiating the agreements and added that no Palestinian polling officials or domestic observers would be allowed to enter the post offices, which would be manned by Israeli employees. Any "disruptive" campaigning would also be forbidden. In fact, one presidential candidate was arrested the next day when he attempted to seek votes among a small crowd near the Lion's Gate.

It was obvious to all international observers who spread throughout the occupied territories that the Palestinian people had little freedom of movement or independent activity -- a situation unlikely to change as long as they were surrounded by troops and walls and their land was occupied by Israeli settlers. Prior to election day, we observers had our customary meetings with leading candidates and members of the Central Election Commission. They were confident about their own preparations but concerned that possible violence might erupt because of interference by Israeli officials in preventing Arab voting in East Jerusalem.

Whenever I visit a foreign country, I look for opportunities to leave the capital city and visit interesting places. While our observer teams were moving to their posts on Saturday morning, the other delegation leaders joined me in a visit to Nazareth Village, a site that has been developed to emulate the community of Jesus during his youth. Beginning in 1996, Rosalynn and I have joined other Christians, mostly Mennonites, in acquiring land and raising funds for its development. The ten-acre site is in the heart of the city, and we were impressed by its high quality and archaeological and historical integrity.

As is our practice, we moved constantly throughout election day, visiting twenty-two voting sites, beginning with the post offices within East Jerusalem, where problems always arise. It quickly became apparent that the Israeli officials had voters' lists that were completely different from the names of people who came to cast ballots, and by noon there had been practically no voting -- just a growing crowd of angry Palestinians. At the main polling site, the only post office larger than a mobile home, there were 3,500 names on the list, with one Israeli clerk checking credentials of potential voters and methodically turning them away. When I finally threatened to call an international press conference, the prime minister's office agreed to ignore the lists and permit all persons registered in Jerusalem to vote at any site, but only international observers and no Palestinians could monitor this process. By this time it was two p.m., and we were able to salvage the participation of only a small number of voters. I also visited Bethlehem and other places in the West Bank and found few problems there or in Gaza.

I was up early the next morning to assess the reports of our observer team and to prepare a political analysis and private letter of advice for delivery to Mahmoud Abbas, who had been elected overwhelmingly. I finished these tasks in time to meet before daybreak with leading birding experts from Israel and Palestine, Yossi Leshem and Imad Atrash. We first went to a fifty-acre park in the heart of Jerusalem's urban area, where we watched twenty-four gazelles that live there with no fences or walls to separate them from the adjacent buildings and heavily traveled roadways. We then drove to a small park in the shadow of the Knesset building to observe the netting, banding, and release of migratory birds that fly over the Holy Land to circumvent the Mediterranean Sea. It was wonderful to see Jewish and Arab ornithologists working in harmony on these projects.

After joining our delegation leaders to conclude generally positive statements about the election, I went to Ramallah to meet with Abbas and his key advisers. The Israelis had ruled out any negotiation with Arafat, and now they would have the partner they had seemed to want. I outlined my thoughts and gave Abbas my written notes, presuming that the new president would soon be engaged in direct talks with Israeli leaders. He reported that the inauguration ceremony would be in two days but expressed doubts that the Israelis wanted peace talks. The Palestinian group's opinion was that both Sharon and Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had long wanted to abandon Gaza while concentrating on the colonization of the West Bank. They pointed out that Palestinian leaders had accepted all provisions of the Quartet's Roadmap for Peace, but that Sharon had publicly rejected most of its key provisions.

There was no doubt that Abbas had the support and respect of his people and that he was dedicated to the immediate pursuit of a peace agreement in accordance with the Roadmap. He needed the full support of American and Israeli leaders as he struggled to forge at least a partially trained and equipped security force, deal with a crumbling economy, and earn the respect and support of the international community. Also, the members of his Fatah Party faced the imminent political challenge of Hamas Party representatives, who were showing impressive success in local elections and had announced their intention to field a full slate of candidates in the upcoming campaign for the Legislative Council. This would be a contest between the long-dominant political organization of Arafat and the PLO and a much more militant group that refused to acknowledge Israel's right to exist and insisted on the right to use violence against Israelis, whom they considered to be enemies occupying their land.

It was on this trip that we saw the most disturbing intrusions of the great dividing wall being built by the Israelis, which I will assess in Chapter 16. Described as a "security fence" whose declared function was to deter Palestinian attacks against Israelis, its other purpose became clear as we observed its construction and examined maps of the barrier's ultimate path through Palestine. Including the Israeli-occupied Jordan River valley, the wall would take in large areas of land for Israel and encircle the Palestinians who remained in their remnant of the West Bank. This would severely restrict Palestinian access to the outside world. "Imprisonment wall" is more descriptive than "security fence."

After returning to America, I went to the White House and gave a personal report to President Bush, emphasizing my concern about Israel's rejection of the Roadmap's terms and the building of the wall. I also relayed Mahmoud Abbas's desire to begin comprehensive peace talks at an early date. The president repeated his commitment to the Roadmap and said that his new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was taking office that same day and that one of her top priorities would be a persistent and aggressive search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Israeli settlers were removed from Gaza in August 2005, with 50,000 troops there to minimize violence. This left behind the Arab inhabitants of the tiny area. There was some predictable controversy in Israel, with extreme right-wingers bitterly opposed to any withdrawals of Israeli settlers and with some peace groups claiming that unilateral actions would lead to the abandonment of long-range peace proposals.


Let's take a quick look at Gaza. Its population has soared in recent years as Palestinian refugees have poured in from other areas occupied by Israel. In 1948 there were 90,000 natives, the population more than tripled by 1967, and there are now more than 1.4 million -- 3,700 people living within each square kilometer. Although there are metropolitan areas with greater population density (such as Manhattan), this is supposed to be a self-sufficient entity, similar to a small and isolated state-separated from the West Bank by forty kilometers of Israeli territory.

Gaza has maintained a population growth rate of 4.7 percent annually, one of the highest in the world, so more than half its people are less than fifteen years old. They are being strangled since the Israeli "withdrawal," surrounded by a separation barrier that is penetrated only by Israeli-controlled checkpoints, with just a single opening (for personnel only) into Egypt's Sinai as their access to the outside world. There have been no moves by Israel to permit transportation by sea or by air. Fishermen are not permitted to leave the harbor, workers are prevented from going to outside jobs, the import or export of food and other goods is severely restricted and often cut off completely, and the police, teachers, nurses, and social workers are deprived of salaries. Per capita income has decreased 40 percent during the last three years, and the poverty rate has reached 70 percent. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has stated that acute malnutrition in Gaza is already on the same scale as that seen in the poorer countries of the Southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day.

This was the impact of Israel's unilateral withdrawal, even before Israel's massive bombardment and reinvasion in July 2006 after being provoked by Hamas militants.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:01 pm


For several reasons, including the Israeli withdrawal of settlers from Gaza in August 2005 and the threat of success by Hamas candidates, the scheduled Palestinian parliamentary elections were postponed from July 2005 until January 2006 -- almost exactly ten years after Yasir Arafat and Legislative Council members first took office. Although the results of previous campaigns had been predictable, the entry of Hamas candidates brought uncertainty and drama to these 132 contests. This time there was an outpouring of international observers, in addition to our Carter Center-DI team. In order to obtain approval from Washington, our American delegation had to refrain from meeting with Hamas leaders or candidates -- at least prior to the election.

With Ariel Sharon incapacitated by severe illness, Ehud Olmert was acting as prime minister and the head of Kadima, a new political coalition that was formed when Sharon withdrew from the Likud Party in November 2005. Sharon's purpose was to implement the unilateral disengagement policy and to complete building a wall to separate Palestinians from territory to be claimed by Israel. To distinguish itself from the right-wing Likud Party, Sharon's new organization maintains that "the balance between allowing Jews to fulfill their historic right to live anywhere in the Land of Israel and maintaining the continued existence of Israel as the national Jewish home necessitates a choice that requires territorial compromise." Kadima claims that the advancement of the peace process with the Palestinians is a primary goal: "Israel's existence as the national home of the Jewish people mandates the acceptance of the principle that the end of the conflict will be manifested in the existence of two nation states, based on existing demographic realities, living in peace and security side by side." Sharon positioned the party as a centrist movement that, except for Israel's crippling caveats, supports the Roadmap for Peace.

Because of the strong potential challenge from Hamas, Israeli officials and many Fatah leaders had wanted to postpone or cancel the Palestinian elections. Hamas had not accepted the PLO's commitments at Oslo that recognized the "right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security" and that renounced the use of terrorism and other acts of violence, but the United States exerted enough pressure to permit the elections to be held. Hamas was now holding many local posts, and their incumbent officials had been free of any allegations of corruption and, for sixteen months, had meticulously observed a cease-fire commitment, which they called hudna. Fatah, the party of Arafat and Abbas, had become vulnerable because of its administrative ineffectiveness and alleged corruption. Another factor was that both Israel and the United States had ignored Abbas as an acceptable negotiating partner in the search for peace, publicly branding him (and Fatah) as insignificant.

In preparation for the election, many of Fatah's old-line leaders were replaced by younger candidates loyal to Marwan Barghouti, a militant serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison. He was said to have orchestrated the intifada and also the hudna, and his statements from jail had a great impact. He seemed to be the most popular Fatah leader, and at times it appeared that the Israelis wanted to promote his suggestions, often at the expense of Abbas. They had permitted Barghouti to meet with other prisoners and to be interviewed by news media with global distribution.

Late results from both Israeli and Palestinian pollsters indicated that about 35 percent of the parliamentary seats would go to Hamas candidates. Israel had announced that without a dramatic moderation of its policies, even this involvement by Hamas would preclude any initiation of substantive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians (already absent for the past five years) and could terminate humanitarian aid and other funds that had been channeled through the Palestinian government.

Shortly after arriving in Israel, Rosalynn and I had an extensive discussion with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whom we had known for more than twenty years. He and I have had many arguments (and some agreements) since he was a young Likud parliamentarian, and I've come to appreciate his intelligence, political acumen, personal ambition, and strong will. We considered him to be a formidable leader of the new Kadima Party and, almost certainly, Israel's next prime minister. Current polls showed that Kadima had actually gained support since Olmert replaced Ariel Sharon. He told us that he would continue Sharon's policies and made it plain that he could resume peace talks with Abbas only after all radical Palestinian groups were completely disarmed and all violent acts were prevented, emphasizing the all. I asked if a genuine good-faith effort to control violence would be sufficient, pointing out that total peace was a hopeless prospect in any society. He shook his head, with a smile.

The following morning (Monday), I addressed the Herzliya Conference, the foremost annual forum for Israeli and international leaders to express their views concerning the most important current issues. Even though recognizing the conservative makeup of the audience, I expressed my opinions frankly and briefly, emphasizing my role in previous peace efforts, deploring Israel's expansive settlement policy and the intrusive route of the dividing wall, and extolling the Geneva Initiative as a reasonable basis for peace. Then I answered a series of questions for about half an hour. I had a respectful and polite reception, but I commented in closing that their questions had received more applause than my answers.

We later met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Labor Party leader Amir Peretz, Shimon Peres, Quartet special economic envoy James Wolfensohn, a public relations spokesman for Hamas (but not its candidates), candidates of Fatah and independent parties, Yossi Beilin and others who had orchestrated the Geneva Initiative, the U.N. coordinator for Middle East peace, and leaders of the major international election observer groups.

We drove to Ramallah to consult with the leaders of the Central Election Commission and then met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Although he expressed confidence in the outcome of the election, he was obviously distressed at having been bypassed or ignored in the "nonexistent peace process." He pointed out that the people of Palestine now had few opportunities for gainful employment or for contact with either Israel or the outside world, that the Palestinian economy was in a shambles, and that Olmert was threatening to withhold about $55 million per month in taxes and customs receipts that were collected on behalf of the Palestinians under an economic protocol signed in 1994. The Palestinian National Authority already had a $900 million deficit and would have difficulty paying its bills or meeting payrolls. He said that Israeli policy had precluded the training and equipping of his security force, so that only 10 percent of its personnel had sidearms or communications equipment.

On election day, Rosalynn and I visited more than two dozen polling sites in East Jerusalem and its outskirts, Hebron, Ramallah, and Jericho. The same rigid restraints were imposed by Israel to minimize voting in East Jerusalem, but otherwise the election was orderly and peaceful. It was obvious to our observers that there was a clear preference for Hamas candidates even in historically strong Fatah communities. Even so, we were all surprised at the size of the Hamas victory. Hamas received a narrow victory in popular votes but won such a clear majority of parliamentary seats (74 of 132) that members of the Fatah government immediately announced their resignation.

I remained for an extra day to assess the situation and to talk with key leaders. In Ramallah I found President Abbas willing to retain his office during the three years remaining in his term but in a quandary about how to deal with the Hamas victory, the formation of a new government, the near-bankruptcy of the Palestinian National Authority, and uncertainty about Israeli policies. He was proud of the honest, fair, and safe election process. Hamas leaders had expressed their desire to form a unity government with Fatah and the smaller independent parties, but Abbas's intention was not to cooperate with them, and he resisted my urging him to reconsider.

The Fatah leader was not prepared to acknowledge the allegations of corruption that were a significant cause of the Hamas success, but he pointed out that one of the major factors in the voting had been his apparent ineffectiveness because he had been ignored by Israel and the Quartet leaders. There had been a few token meetings during his first year as president, but he said that neither the United States nor Israel was prepared for substantive peace talks, using the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza as an excuse. He reminded me that there had been no opportunity for a Palestinian leader to participate in peace talks for the past five years, as the Israelis confiscated more and more land in the West Bank and imposed increasingly severe restrictions on his people. Israel had taken more control of the consumer and production sectors of the area's economy, making it an exclusive market for many Israeli products even among the local Palestinian citizens, who could not sell their own products in Israel, Jordan, or other places.

Abbas said that despite the conduct of exemplary democratic elections, the Palestinians had never had an opportunity to forge a viable government. Their economic system had been forced back into the preindustrial age and their territory broken into ever-smaller fragments. Abbas informed me that there were not enough funds available to meet his February payroll for police, teachers, nurses, and other service providers, and any reduction in their income because of the election results would be disastrous.

Although I had had no direct contact with Hamas since Arafat's election as president and had pledged to refrain from meeting with them until after this recent election, I decided that it was time for me to consult with them again. In The Carter Center's Ramallah office set up to monitor the election, I talked to Hamas member Dr. Mahmoud Ramahi, an anesthesiologist who reminded me that I had met with him ten years earlier. He was later chosen as the legislature's secretary and a spokesperson for Hamas in the West Bank. (Along with some other Hamas legislators who live in the West Bank, he is now imprisoned by the Israelis.)

When I questioned him about the necessity for Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel, he responded that they had not committed an act of violence since a cease fire was declared in August 2004 and were willing and able to extend and enforce their cease-fire (hudna) for "two, ten, or fifty years" -- if Israel would reciprocate by refraining from attacks on Palestinians. He added that there had been no allegations of terrorism or corruption among their serving local leaders, and that Israel had so far refused to recognize the Palestinian National Authority (only the PLO) and had rejected the key provisions of the Oslo Agreement. Hamas's first priorities would be to form a government, to maintain order, and to deal with the financial crisis.

He also asked, "Where is the Israel you would have us recognize? Does it include the West Bank and East Jerusalem?" He added that they would have no need to relate directly to the Israelis but wanted a reciprocal cease-fire to be maintained. He hoped that Fatah would join in the new government and that Abbas would continue to serve as its president and to handle all foreign affairs. Their future actions would, of course, reveal their true commitments, but my guess was that during the immediate future they wanted to consolidate their political gains, maintain domestic order and stability, and refrain from any contacts with Israel. It would be a tragedy -- especially for the Palestinians -- if they decided to promote or condone terrorism.

During the next few weeks Hamas attempted unsuccessfully to induce Fatah members to take some of the cabinet positions and finally proposed its own list, which President Abbas accepted. The most important posts would be held by Dr. Ismail Haniyeh as prime minister, Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar as foreign minister, and Speaker of the Assembly Dr. Aziz Dweik, who earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. A postelection public opinion poll indicated that 73 percent of Palestinians expressed their support for the two-state peace process with Israel, but most felt that Hamas should refrain from recognizing Israel until some of the final status issues were resolved. Only 1 percent of the people were in favor of Hamas's imposing Islamic law in Palestine. Equally encouraging was the result of a March 2006 opinion poll by the Truman Research Institute at Hebrew University revealing that 62 percent of Israelis favored direct talks with Hamas.

The January 2006 election of a Hamas government raised the large and unresolved question of whether Palestinians would continue their policy of rejection of Israel pending a total restoration of their homeland. As president and as head of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that there is still an opportunity to find a path to permanent peace in the Holy Land through direct talks with Israel. Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh announced that his Hamas government was "ready for a dialogue" with the members of the Quartet, expressed approval for direct Olmert-Abbas peace talks, and said that Hamas would change its rejectionist position if a satisfactory agreement could be consummated and approved by the Palestinian people. Such Palestinian approval of a final peace agreement was an important facet of the Camp David Accords.

Although there was still a wide difference in the prerequisites for talks, news analysts welcomed what seemed to be a more moderate Palestinian position. The U.S. response was that Hamas must first recognize Israel, renounce violence, and agree to honor previously negotiated agreements. Israel's response, delivered by its defense minister, was that all seventy-four Hamas members of the parliament would be targeted for assassination in case of another violent attack on Israelis by any Palestinian.

Some Palestinian intellectuals tell me that a Hamas-influenced PLO could be more capable of modest compromises on such cardinal issues as Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Jewish settlements in the West Bank. With a single- mindedness amounting to tunnel vision, Palestinians see the restoration of their rights, defined by international law, as the key to peace throughout the broader Middle East, including the Gulf states.

It should be remembered that Mahmoud Abbas is not only the president of the Palestinian National Authority, with substantial authority under Palestinian law, but the undisputed leader of the PLO, the only Palestinian entity recognized by Israel or the international community. He has publicly endorsed the international community's Roadmap for Peace without equivocation and has been eager to negotiate with Israel since first becoming prime minister three years before being elected president.

It is certainly possible that the path of the Palestinians is leading to a dead end, and that even their Arab allies will tire of actively supporting the Palestinian cause. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said that nothing would hurt the black cause in America more than for whites simply to grow bored with it. Nor is Palestinian willingness to resort to violence likely to be any more fruitful in the future than it has been in the past. It must be noted that by following policies of confrontation and inflexibility, Palestinians have alienated many moderate leaders in Israel and America and have not regained any of their territory or other basic rights.

The fate of all Palestinians depends on whether those in the occupied territories choose to pursue their goals by peaceful means or by continued bloodshed. A genuine move toward peace might bring rich dividends by arousing support in the United States and other nations.

At about the same time as the Hamas government was formed late in March 2006, a small turnout of Israeli citizens divided their support so that among the 120 seats in the Knesset, the new Kadima Party had a disappointing 29 seats, Labor 20, Likud 12, Shas 12, and minor parties shared the other 47. At one time, Kadima had been expected to gain 43 seats based on its pledge of a unilateral expansion to the "great wall." The results showed an electorate more divided concerning the acceptance of this plan than had been expected, and they indicated some lack of confidence in Olmert as Israel's prime minister. No Arab-Israeli members are included among the twenty-five members of the cabinet.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:01 pm


With increasing control of East Jerusalem, with relative security from the wall surrounding what is left of the West Bank, and with thousands of remaining settlers east of the wall protected by a strong occupying force, there is a temptation for some Israelis simply to avoid any further efforts to seek a peace agreement based on the Quartet's Roadmap or good-faith negotiations on any other basis.

In this diplomatic vacuum, Israeli leaders have embarked on a series of unilateral decisions, bypassing both Washington and the Palestinians. Their presumption is that an encircling barrier will finally resolve the Palestinian problem. Utilizing their political and military dominance, they are imposing a system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation, and apartheid on the Muslim and Christian citizens of the occupied territories. The driving purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa -- not racism, but the acquisition of land. There has been a determined and remarkably effective effort to isolate settlers from Palestinians, so that a Jewish family can commute from Jerusalem to their highly subsidized home deep in the West Bank on roads from which others are excluded, without ever coming in contact with any facet of Arab life.

Withdrawal from Gaza was the first unilateral step, leaving a tiny and nonviable economic and political entity, circumscribed and isolated, with no dependable access to the air, sea, or even other Palestinians. The future prospects for the West Bank are even more dismal. Especially troublesome is the huge dividing wall in populated areas and an impassable fence in rural areas. The status of this barrier is a key to future peace in the Middle East. The original idea of a physical obstruction was promoted by Israeli moderates as a means of preventing intrusive attacks after the withdrawal of Israel's occupation forces. The first barrier, surrounding Gaza, proved that this was a valid premise, in that there was a substantial decrease in cross-border raids. The plan was to continue construction of the barricade along the border between Israel and the West Bank.


Map 9: Palestinians Surrounded 2006

Instead, the governments of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have built the fence and wall entirely within Palestinian territory, intruding deeply into the West Bank to encompass Israeli settlement blocs and large areas of other Palestinian land. It is projected to be at least three and a half times as long as Israel's internationally recognized border and already cuts directly through Palestinian villages, divides families from their gardens and farmland, and includes 375,000 Palestinians on the "Israeli" side of the wall, 175,000 of whom are outside Jerusalem. One example is that the wandering wall almost completely surrounds the Palestinian city of Qalqiliya with its 45,000 inhabitants, with most of the citizens' land and about one-third of their water supply confiscated by the Israelis. Almost the same encirclement has occurred around 170,000 citizens of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.

First, a wide swath must be bulldozed through communities before the wall can be built. In addition to the concrete and electrified fencing materials used in the construction, the barrier includes two-meter-deep trenches, roads for patrol vehicles, electronic ground and fence sensors, thermal imaging and video cameras, sniper towers, and razor wire -- all on Palestinian land. The area between the segregation barrier and the Israeli border has been designated a closed military region for an indefinite period of time. Israeli directives state that every Palestinian over the age of twelve living in the closed area has to obtain a "permanent resident permit" from the civil administration to enable them to continue to live in their own homes. They are considered to be aliens, without the rights of Israeli citizens.

To summarize, whatever territory Israel decides to confiscate will be on its side of the wall, but Israelis will still retain control of the Palestinians who will be on the other side of the barrier, enclosed between it and Israel's forces in the Jordan River valley.

President George W. Bush said, "I think the wall is a problem. It is very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and the Israelis with a wall snaking through the West Bank." Since 1945, the International Court of Justice has functioned essentially as the judicial arm of the United Nations system, and in July 2004 the court determined that the Israeli government's construction of the segregation wall in the occupied Palestinian West Bank was illegal. Even Thomas Buergenthal, the American judge who cast the lone negative vote (largely on procedural grounds), acknowledged that the Palestinians were under occupation and had the right to self-determination, that Israel was obligated to adhere to international humanitarian law, and that there were serious questions whether routing an impenetrable barrier to protect West Bank settlements would qualify as legitimate self-defense.

The court acknowledged Israel's right to protect the lives of its citizens by building a protective barrier within its own national border but based its negative ruling on international law including the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupying power from transferring any parts of its civilian population into territories seized by military force. The court called on Israel to cease construction of the wall, to dismantle what has already been built in areas beyond Israel's internationally recognized border, and to compensate Palestinians who have suffered losses as a result of the wall's construction. The Israeli Supreme Court has chosen not to accept the International Court's decision but acknowledged that Israel holds the West Bank "in belligerent occupation" and that "the law of belligerent occupation ... imposes conditions" on the authority of the military, even in areas related to security.

The wall ravages many places along its devious route that are important to Christians. In addition to enclosing Bethlehem in one of its most notable intrusions, an especially heart-breaking division is on the southern slope of the Mount of Olives, a favorite place for Jesus and his disciples, and very near Bethany, where they often visited Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. There is a church named for one of the sisters, Santa Marta Monastery, where Israel's thirty-foot concrete wall cuts through the property. The house of worship is now on the Jerusalem side, and its parishioners are separated from it because they cannot get permits to enter Jerusalem. Its priest, Father Claudio Ghilardi, says, "For nine hundred years we have lived here under Turkish, British, Jordanian, and Israeli governments, and no one has ever stopped people coming to pray. It is scandalous. This is not a barrier. It is a border. Why don't they speak the truth?"

Countering Israeli arguments that the wall is to keep Palestinian suicide bombers from Israel, Father Claudio adds a comment that describes the path of the entire barrier: "The Wall is not separating Palestinians from Jews; rather, Palestinians from Palestinians." Nearby are three convents that will also be cut off from the people they serve. These 2,000 Palestinian Christians have lost their place of worship and their spiritual center.

In addition to cutting off about 200,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem from their relatives, property, schools, and businesses, the wall is designed to complete the enclosure of a severely truncated Palestine, a small portion of its original size, compartmentalized, divided into cantons, occupied by Israeli security forces, and isolated from the outside world. In addition, a network of exclusive highways is being built across even these fragments of the West Bank to connect the new Greater Israel in the west with the occupied Jordan River valley in the east, where 7,000 Jews are living in twenty-one heavily protected settlements among about 50,000 Palestinians who are still permitted to stay there. The area along the Jordan River, which is now planned as the eastern leg of the encirclement of the Palestinians, is one of Palestine's most lucrative and productive agricultural regions. Most of its inhabitants were forcibly evicted in 1967, and the Israelis have not allowed these original families to return. Israeli customs officers keep lists of their names and are careful to prohibit their crossing any international checkpoint into the occupied territory, where they might lay claim to their homes and farmland. [1]

It is obvious that the Palestinians will be left with no territory in which to establish a viable state, but completely enclosed within the barrier and the occupied Jordan River valley. The Palestinians will have a future impossible for them or any responsible portion of the international community to accept, and Israel's permanent status will be increasingly troubled and uncertain as deprived people fight oppression and the relative number of Jewish citizens decreases demographically (compared to Arabs) both within Israel and in Palestine. This prospect is clear to most Israelis, who also view it as a distortion of their values. Recent events involving Gaza and Lebanon demonstrate the inevitable escalation in tension and violence within Palestine and stronger resentment and animosity from the world community against both Israel and America.

One of the vulnerabilities of Israel and a potential cause of violence is the holding of prisoners. Militant Palestinians and Lebanese know that a captured Israeli soldier or civilian is either a valuable bargaining chip for prisoner exchange or a cause of conflict. There have been several such trades: 1,150 Palestinians for three Israelis in 1985; 123 Lebanese for the remains of two Israeli soldiers in 1996; and 433 Palestinians and others for an Israeli businessman and the remains of three soldiers in 2004.

International human rights organizations estimate that since 1967 more than 630,000 Palestinians (about 20 percent of the total population) in the occupied territories have been detained at some time by the Israelis, arousing deep resentment among the families involved. Although the vast majority of prisoners are men, there are a large number of women and children being held. Between the ages of twelve and fourteen, children can be sentenced for a period of up to six months, and after the age of fourteen Palestinian children are tried as adults, a violation of international law.

In addition to time in jail, the pretrial periods can be quite lengthy. Under special Israeli laws covering the period before sentencing, Palestinian detainees can be interrogated for a total period of 180 days and denied lawyer visits for intervals of 90 days. "Administrative detention" is indefinitely renewable under military regulations. Confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts. Accused persons usually are tried in military courts in the West Bank, and then incarcerated in prisons inside Israel. This means that both family visits and access to lawyers are prohibited during the frequent and extended times of tight travel restrictions. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits this policy, stating: "Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein."

The cycle of violence erupted once more in June 2006, when Palestinians dug a tunnel under the barrier that surrounds Gaza and attacked some Israeli soldiers, capturing one of them. They offered to exchange the soldier for the release of 95 women and 313 children who are among some 8,500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Israel rejected any negotiations and, in an attempt to rescue the soldier and to stop the firing of homemade rockets into Israeli territory, invaded parts of Gaza, bombing government buildings and destroying connecting bridges and the power station that provides electricity and water. There were heavy casualties and Gaza was even more isolated. When Hamas and Fatah leaders agreed to accept a proposal from the revered prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, as a demonstration of their unity, Israel responded by seizing 64 members of Hamas in the West Bank, including a third of the Palestinian cabinet and 23 legislators. Israeli officials announced that they would be imprisoned until military tribunals could decide what additional punishment would be imposed. At the end of August, the deputy prime minister and six other cabinet officers plus thirty members of the Legislative Council were being held, including the speaker of the parliament, Aziz Dweik.

Claiming to be supporting the beleaguered Palestinians, Hezbollah militants based in Lebanon attacked Israeli patrol vehicles in Israel, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two others. Prime Minister Olmert announced that this was a national declaration of war, then imposed a naval blockade and launched attacks on multiple targets in Beirut and throughout Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah leaders demanded the release of Lebanese prisoners and the withdrawal of Israel from the disputed area of Shebaa Farms, and Hezbollah launched a barrage of rockets on cities in northern Israel.

During the first month of fighting, more than 800 Lebanese civilians were dead or missing under rubble and a million -- one-fourth of the population -- were displaced. Twenty-seven Israeli civilians were killed, and a large number left their homes in northern Israel or lived in bomb shelters to escape the bombardment of Hezbollah rockets. There were also an unknown number of military casualties on both sides.

Although many Lebanese condemned the strength and provocative acts of Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, the nation's leaders soon formed a united front in response to Israeli attacks. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora repeatedly called for a cease-fire and assistance for his country, saying, "The country has been torn to shreds. Lebanon deserves life." Commenting on the U.S.-Israeli opposition to an immediate cease-fire, he quoted the historian Tacitus of ancient Rome: "They created desolation and call it peace." Saad Hariri, whose father was prime minister and believed to have been assassinated by friends of Syria, cried out, "What are the United States and Israel doing? You promote democracy and then you allow it to be destroyed."

This cycle of provocative acts by Arab militants and the devastating military response by Israel demonstrates once more the permanent, festering results of the unresolved Middle East dispute. Israel's powerful military force can, with American acquiescence or support, destroy the economic infrastructure and inflict heavy casualties in Gaza, Lebanon, and even other nations. But when this devastation occurs, guerrilla movements are likely to survive, becoming more united and marshaling wider support.

A poll by the Beirut Center for Research and Information after three weeks of Israeli bombing found that 87 percent of Lebanese supported Hezbollah's battles with Israel. This included 80 percent of Lebanese Christians, who are normally inclined to be friendly to Israel and politically opposed to militant Muslims.

For five weeks, the United States government strongly supported Israel, encouraged their bombardment of Lebanon, and blocked the efforts of France and other nations to impose an immediate cease-fire. The issues involved cessation of all combat, disarming of Hezbollah, withdrawal of Israeli forces from all of Lebanon including Shebaa Farms, the exchange of prisoners, and an international peacekeeping force to be established as a buffer. Finally, on August 11, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1701, which provided that combat would cease and that 15,000 Lebanese troops and an equal number from the international community would be deployed in Southern Lebanon as both Israeli and Hezbollah military forces withdrew. The key issues of prisoner exchange, Israel's occupation of Shebaa Farms, and the disarming of Hezbollah were postponed, while Israel continued its pounding of the Palestinians in Gaza. While the world's attention was focused on the Israel-Lebanon conflict, more than 200 Palestinians, 44 of them children, were killed in Gaza, while three Israeli soldiers lost their lives.

What were the causes and results of the Israeli-Lebanese war? The conflict began when Hezbollah militants attacked two Israeli vehicles, killing three soldiers and capturing two others. Their announced goal was to give support to the Palestinians under attack in Gaza, to force Israel out of the disputed area, and to exchange the captured soldiers for some of the Lebanese prisoners as had been done several times in the past. Israel rejected these demands, surprisingly declared that it had been assaulted by the entire nation of Lebanon, and launched an aerial bombardment that eventually included 7,000 targets throughout the country. Hezbollah responded by firing almost 4,000 rockets into northern Israel.

Who were the losers and winners? Although both sides claimed victory, it is obvious that the greatest losers were the Lebanese and Israeli families who lost lives in aerial strikes from bombs, missiles, and rockets. Many areas of Lebanon were devastated. There were wide-ranging recriminations in Israel against its government leaders who wrought such great destruction and still failed to subdue the Hezbollah militants. American leaders were condemned almost universally for overtly encouraging and supplying weapons for the Israeli attack and for delaying a cease-fire that could have ended the carnage.

Although condemned at first by moderate Arabs for precipitating the confrontation with Israel, Hezbollah gained almost universal Arab support and a propaganda victory for "defending" Lebanon, withstanding the Israeli ground and air attack, and subsequently providing massive sums for repairing damage. Israel's outgoing head of military intelligence, Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, stated that the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, had played brilliantly on the sense of honor that is so important for many Arabs and Muslims. His message, said Kuperwasser, was "to regain lost pride ... by readiness to sacrifice, readiness to suffer."

Tragically, this conflict was just another in the repetitive cycle of violence that results from the absence of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, exacerbated by the almost unprecedented six-year absence of any real effort to achieve such a goal. Temporary cease-fires and international peacekeeping forces in Lebanon and other troubled areas are just Band-Aids. The root causes of the conflict -- occupation of Arab land, mistreatment of the Palestinians, and acceptance of Israel within its legal borders -- are yet to be addressed. In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert authorized construction bids in September for another 690 homes in the occupied West Bank, despite criticism from the White House and leaders of his own government. He also rejected an offer from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to negotiate an exchange of prisoners.

Leaders on both sides ignore strong majorities that crave peace, allowing extremist-led violence to preempt all opportunities for building a political consensus. A major impediment to progress is Washington's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues is a privilege to be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and withheld from those who reject U.S. demands. Direct engagement with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and government leaders in Damascus will be necessary if negotiated settlements are to be achieved. Failure to address the issues and other key leaders risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Tehran.

A survey by the Pew Center's Global Attitudes Project released in June found that Muslim opinions about the West had worsened drastically, with the Israel-Palestinian issue having become the principal fault line in world conflict.

A notable and promising development, concealed by the conflict in Lebanon, was the agreement between Palestinian leaders of Fatah, Hamas, and some smaller groups to adopt the "National Conciliation Document" that was forged by Marwan Barghouti and other Palestinian prisoners. There is a good prospect that this will lead to a unity government including representatives from the major parties, which would also meet the international community's conditions for lifting the embargo that has been placed on the Palestinian people. This would include the acceptance of a two-state solution, recognition of Israel, and a long-term cease-fire by Hamas if reciprocated by Israel. The Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, stated in June, "We have no problem with a sovereign Palestinian state over all our lands within the 1967 borders, living in calm."



1. The best description of the barrier, its routing and impact, is shown in the film The Iron Wall, produced by the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees. It is available for $10 from PARC, at
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:02 pm

Chapter 17: SUMMARY

Since the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was signed in 1979, much blood has been shed unnecessarily and repeated efforts for a negotiated peace between Israel and her neighbors have failed. Despite its criticism from some Arab sources, this treaty stands as proof that diplomacy can bring lasting peace between ancient adversaries. Although disparities among them are often emphasized, the 1974 Israeli-Syrian withdrawal agreement, the 1978 Camp David Accords, the Reagan statement of 1982, the 1993 Oslo Agreement, the treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994, the Arab peace proposal of 2002, the 2003 Geneva Initiative, and the International Quartet's Roadmap all contain key common elements that can be consolidated if pursued in good faith.

There are two interrelated obstacles to permanent peace in the Middle East:

1. Some Israelis believe they have the right to confiscate and colonize Palestinian land and try to justify the sustained subjugation and persecution of increasingly hopeless and aggravated Palestinians; and

2. Some Palestinians react by honoring suicide bombers as martyrs to be rewarded in heaven and consider the killing of Israelis as victories.

In turn, Israel responds with retribution and oppression, and militant Palestinians refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel and vow to destroy the nation. The cycle of distrust and violence is sustained, and efforts for peace are frustrated. Casualties have been high as the occupying forces impose ever tighter controls. From September 2000 until March 2006, 3,982 Palestinians and 1,084 Israelis were killed in the second intifada, and these numbers include many children: 708 Palestinians and 123 Israelis. As indicated earlier, there was an ever-rising toll of dead and wounded from the latest outbreak of violence in Gaza and Lebanon.

The only rational response to this continuing tragedy is to revitalize the peace process through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, but the United States has, in effect, abandoned this effort. It may be that one of the periodic escalations in violence will lead to strong influence being exerted from the International Quartet to implement its Roadmap for Peace. These are the key requirements:

a. The security of Israel must be guaranteed. The Arabs must acknowledge openly and specifically that Israel is a reality and has a right to exist in peace, behind secure and recognized borders, and with a firm Arab pledge to terminate any further acts of violence against the legally constituted nation of Israel.

b. The internal debate within Israel must be resolved in order to define Israel's permanent legal boundary. The unwavering official policy of the United States since Israel became a state has been that its borders must coincide with those prevailing from 1949 until 1967 (unless modified by mutually agreeable land swaps), specified in the unanimously adopted U.N. Resolution 242, which mandates Israel's withdrawal from occupied territories. This obligation was reconfirmed by Israel's leaders in agreements negotiated in 1978 at Camp David and in 1993 at Oslo, for which they received the Nobel Peace Prize, and both of these commitments were officially ratified by the Israeli government. Also, as a member of the International Quartet that includes Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union, America supports the Roadmap for Peace, which espouses exactly the same requirements. Palestinian leaders unequivocally accepted this proposal, but Israel has officially rejected its key provisions with unacceptable caveats and prerequisites.

Despite these recent developments, it is encouraging that Israel has made previous commitments to peace as confirmed by the Camp David Accords, the withdrawal of its forces from the Sinai, the more recent movement of settlers from Gaza, and its official endorsement of pertinent U.N. resolutions establishing its legal borders. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli military forces occupied all of the territory indicated on Map 4, but joined the United States and other nations in supporting United Nations Resolution 242, which is still the binding law that condemns the acquisition of land by force and requires Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories.

c. The sovereignty of all Middle East nations and sanctity of international borders must be honored. There is little doubt that accommodation with Palestinians can bring full Arab recognition of Israel and its right to live in peace, with an Arab commitment to restrain further violence initiated by extremist Palestinians.

The overriding problem is that, for more than a quarter century, the actions of some Israeli leaders have been in direct conflict with the official policies of the United States, the international community, and their own negotiated agreements. Regardless of whether Palestinians had no formalized government, one headed by Yasir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, or one with Abbas as president and Hamas controlling the parliament and cabinet, Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land. In order to perpetuate the occupation, Israeli forces have deprived their unwilling subjects of basic human rights. No objective person could personally observe existing conditions in the West Bank and dispute these statements.

Two other interrelated factors have contributed to the perpetuation of violence and regional upheaval: the condoning of illegal Israeli actions from a submissive White House and U.S. Congress during recent years, and the deference with which other international leaders permit this unofficial U.S. policy in the Middle East to prevail. There are constant and vehement political and media debates in Israel concerning its policies in the West Bank, but because of powerful political, economic, and religious forces in the United States, Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned, voices from Jerusalem dominate in our media, and most American citizens are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories. At the same time, political leaders and news media in Europe are highly critical of Israeli policies, affecting public attitudes. Americans were surprised and angered by an opinion poll, published by the International Herald Tribune in October 2003, of 7,500 citizens in fifteen European nations, indicating that Israel was considered to be the top threat to world peace, ahead of North Korea, Iran, or Afghanistan.

The United States has used its U.N. Security Council veto more than forty times to block resolutions critical of Israel. Some of these vetoes have brought international discredit on the United States, and there is little doubt that the lack of a persistent effort to resolve the Palestinian issue is a major source of anti-American sentiment and terrorist activity throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world.

A new factor in the region is that the Palestinian election of January 2006 gave Hamas members control of the parliament and a cabinet headed by the prime minister. Israel and the United States reacted by announcing a policy of isolating and destabilizing the new government. Elected officials are denied travel permits to participate in parliamentary affairs, Gaza is effectively isolated, and every effort is made to block humanitarian funds to Palestinians, to prevent their right to employment or commercial trade, and to deny them access o Israel and the outside world.

In order to achieve its goals, Israel has decided to avoid any peace negotiations and to escape even the mild restraints of the United States by taking unilateral action, called "convergence" or "realignment," to carve out for itself the choice portions of the West Bank, leaving Palestinians destitute within a small and fragmented remnant of their own land. The holding of almost 10,000 Arab prisoners and the destructive military response to the capture of three Israeli soldiers have aroused global concern about the hair-trigger possibility of a regional war being launched.


Despite these immediate challenges, we must not assume that the future is hopeless. Down through the years I have seen despair and frustration evolve into optimism and progress and, even now, we must not abandon efforts to achieve permanent peace for Israelis and freedom and justice for Palestinians. There are some positive factors on which we may rely.

As I said in a 1979 speech to the Israeli Knesset, "The people support a settlement. Political leaders are the obstacles to peace." Over the years, public opinion surveys have consistently shown that a majority of Israelis favor withdrawing from Palestinian territory in exchange for peace ("swapping land for peace"), and recent polls show that 80 percent of Palestinians still want a two-state peace agreement with Israel, with nearly 70 percent supporting the moderate Mahmoud Abbas as their president and spokesman.

There have been some other encouraging developments over the years. Along with the awareness among most Israelis that a solution to the Palestinian question is critical if there is ever to be a comprehensive settlement, there is a growing recognition in the Arab world that Israel is an unchanging reality. Most Palestinians and other Arabs maintain that the proposal made by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, a proposal approved at the Arab summit in 2002 (Appendix 6), is a public acknowledgment of Israel's right to exist within its legal borders and shows willingness to work out disputes that have so far not been addressed directly. The Delphic wording of this statement was deliberate, in Arabic as well as in Hebrew and English, but the Arabs defend it by saying it is there to be explored by the Israelis and others and that, in any case, it is a more positive and clear commitment to international law than anything now coming from Israel.

Furthermore, the remaining differences and their potential resolution are clearly defined. Both Israel and the Arab countries have endorsed the crucial and unavoidable U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, under which peace agreements have already been evolved.

Here are two voices, one Palestinian and the other Israeli, with remarkably similar assessments of what needs to be done.

Jonathan Kuttab, Palestinian human rights lawyer: "Everybody knows what it will take to achieve a permanent and lasting peace that addresses the basic interests of both sides: It's a two-state solution. It's withdrawal to 1967 borders. It's dismantlement of the settlements. It's some kind of shared status for a united Jerusalem, the capital of both parties. The West Bank and Gaza would have to be demilitarized to remove any security threats to Israel. Some kind of solution would have to be reached for the refugee problem, some qualified right of return, with compensation. Everyone knows the solution; the question is: Is there political will to implement it?"

Dr. Naomi Chazan, professor at Hebrew University and former deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset: "I don't think any difference now remains between the majority of Israelis and Palestinians in understanding that there has to be some kind of accommodation between both people. There are two possibilities on how to do it. To acknowledge and then to implement the Palestine right to self-determination, and to make sure that the two-state solution is a just and fair solution, allowing for the creation of a viable state alongside Israel on the 1967 boundaries, and if there are any changes, they are by agreement on a swap basis. And on the Israeli side, there is the need to maintain a democratic state with a Jewish majority, which can only be achieved through the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel."

An important fact to remember is that President Mahmoud Abbas retains all presidential authority that was exercised by Yasir Arafat when he negotiated the Oslo Agreement, and the Hamas prime minister has stated that his government supports peace talks between Israel and Abbas. He added that Hamas would modify its rejection of Israel if there is a negotiated agreement that Palestinians can approve (as specified in the Camp David Accords). It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel.

One promising development came in May 2006 when Marwan Barghouti, the most popular and influential leader of Fatah, joined forces in an Israeli prison with Abed al-Halak Natashe, a trusted spokesman for Hamas, in endorsing a two-state proposal that could unite the two Palestinian factions. Their influence is enormous. The prisoners' proposal called for a unity government with Hamas joining the PLO, the release of all political prisoners, acceptance of Israel as a neighbor within its legal borders, and an end to violent acts within Israel (but not in Palestinian territory). It endorsed the key U.N. resolutions regarding legal borders and the right of return.

With public opinion polls indicating a 77 percent rate of approval, President Abbas first proposed a referendum among Palestinians on the prisoners' proposal, and then both Hamas and Fatah accepted its provisions. Although a clear majority of Israelis are persistently willing to accept terms that are tolerable to most of their Arab neighbors, it is clear that none of the options is attractive for all Israelis:

• A forcible annexation of Palestine and its legal absorption into Israel, which could give large numbers of non- Jewish citizens the right to vote and live as equals under the law. This would directly violate international standards and the Camp David Accords, which are the basis for peace with Egypt. At the same time, non-Jewish citizens would make up a powerful swing vote if other Israelis were divided and would ultimately constitute an outright majority in the new Greater Israel. Israel would be further isolated and condemned by the international community, with no remaining chance to end hostilities with any appreciable part of the Arab world.
• A system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is the policy now being followed, although many citizens of Israel deride the racist connotation of prescribing permanent second-class status for the Palestinians. As one prominent Israeli stated, "I am afraid that we are moving toward a government like that of South Africa, with a dual society of Jewish rulers and Arab subjects with few rights of citizenship. The West Bank is not worth it." All unacceptable modification of this choice, now being proposed, is the taking of substantial portions of the occupied territory, with the remaining Palestinians completely surrounded by walls, fences, and Israeli checkpoints, living as prisoners within the small portion of land left to them.
• Withdrawal to the 1967 border as specified in U.N. Resolution 242 and as promised in the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Agreement and prescribed in the Roadmap of the International Quartet. This is the most attractive option and the only one that can ultimately be acceptable as a basis for peace. Good-faith negotiations can lead to mutually agreeable exchanges of land, perhaps permitting a significant number of Israeli settlers to remain in their present homes near Jerusalem. One version of this choice was spelled out in the Geneva Initiative.

The bottom line is this: Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens -- and honor its own previous commitments -- by accepting its legal borders. All Arab neighbors must pledge to honor Israel's right to live in peace under these conditions. The United States is squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories.

It will be a tragedy -- for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the world -- if peace is rejected and a system of oppression, apartheid, and sustained violence is permitted to prevail.
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