Monday, September 04, 2006

Comment is Free

Here's what one Israeli commenter ("Trueleft") had to say
in response to a piece by Shimon Peres:

Hmm, "I wonder" what Mr. Peres implies when he says he introduced new and deterring arms to the IDF fifty years ago... I'm surprised he permits himself to speak so bluntly.

While the lack of unity among the Palestinians is frustrating, to say the least, our own Israeli politics must look at least as fractious to them, with government rising and falling every year or two. What kind of consistency might they see when Rabin is followed by Peres is followed by Netanyahu, then Barak, then Sharon... It's mind boggling to the Israelis themselves!!! Many of my own friends, committed liberals and politically active, decided not to vote in the last elections!

However disorganized the Palestinians may be, certainly Israel's policy of targeted killings and the arrest of political figures cannot create political stability!

Furthermore, while Mr. Peres might mean well, he knows that in the past months it has not been a lack of Palestinian unity which has prevented negotiations from proceeding. Rather, it was the obtuse policy of refusing to speak with the moderate Hamas members the Palestinians elected. This policy, supported by America's misguided (understatement...) president, prevents all progress because it precludes discussion with all those who might bring about such progress. New rumors of a unity government of Fatah and Hamas offer hope for the Palestinians- and what gives hope to the Palestinians should give hope to Israel as well.

That said, other powers in the region have been trying to galvanize the muslim street for their own nefarious purposes. Iran and Hizb'Allah have done Lebanon poor service, as can be evidenced by the destruction their last escapade brought down on the Lebanese. But more than that, they have shelved the best hopes of resolution for the Palestinians. It seems Olmert's days as PM are numbered and the great winners of the next election will likely be the Likud and its satellite parties. Those who remember that violence radicalises muslims will also see how it has a similar effect on Israelis...

There can be no more preconditions to negotiation. We cannot wait for terror to dissipate before agreeing to negotiate. We would wait forever. And Syria will perhaps be cajoled by its allies into accepting that Israel will not return the Golan Heights before the peace settlement, but rather after it, in accordance with international law. They've waited this long, haven't they?

It seems that more than anything, what Israel lacks is vision. I call on Mr. Peres or any other political figure in Israel to stop waiting for the Arab League's new peace proposal and start initiating peace ourselves. Why does Israel not organize, in good faith, hopefully with European hosts, a new "Madrid Conference"? Why not have all parties, including Iran and Syria, represented in these discussions? The last conference produced real gains for all sides. That was fifteen years ago. It's time for new discussions. All positions have grown closer; I believe all sides are better prepared to compromise.

3 Comments:

At 4:55 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Gert, this is some good insight. I wonder why Israel doesn't work to set up a peace conference or something of the sort. I think there may be two reasons why: 1) They are unwilling to show any sign of weakness with the rise of Islamist movements. 2) It's political suicide if it does fail. Someone should do some research on how democracy in Israel has failed the peace process as there are numerous times over the last 60yrs when electoral and coalition considerations have derailed any movement on negotiations and compromise.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David,

"1) They are unwilling to show any sign of weakness with the rise of Islamist movements."

Today perhaps yes but it doesn't explain the several times the peace process failed way before the rise of Islamism, 9/11 and the "war on terror" (see e.g. the assassination of Rabin in 1995).

"2) It's political suicide if it does fail. Someone should do some research on how democracy in Israel has failed the peace process as there are numerous times over the last 60yrs when electoral and coalition considerations have derailed any movement on negotiations and compromise."

Such a move would require very considerable political courage and that is something professional politicians in our liberal democracies often sadly lack. Fear of political suicide is a driving force for sure.

On HARDtalk (BBC) Yossi Beilin recently appeared telling us that according to him still over 40% of Israelis are in favour of a negotiated settlement. Perhaps not that much political courage would be needed?

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

what more can be offered than what was offered at taba?

a palestinian state, with 97% of the west bank, all of gaza, 1/2 of jerusalem (including the jewish holy site of the temple mount) , tens of thousands of palestinians allowed to live in israel, billions for reconstruction, and 4% additional lands to offset the 3%, PLUS a non-historic connection from the gaza to the west bank, a sea port, international office oh yes, peace...

how was this offer responded to?

the palestinians went to war....

 

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