Friday, November 30, 2007

Two-State solution or Apartheid

In the immediate aftermath of Olmert's bold admission of Palestinian suffering come more words that must ring alarmingly concessionist in the ears of many Israelis.

Olmert to Haaretz: Two-state solution, or Israel is done for

By Aluf Benn, David Landau, Barak Ravid and Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondents and AP

WASHINGTON - "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Haaretz Wednesday, the day the Annapolis conference ended in an agreement to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008.

"The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us," Olmert said, "because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents."

Olmert pointed out that he had said similar things in an interview he gave four years ago, when he was deputy prime minister under Ariel Sharon, in which he revealed for the first time his proposal for a withdrawal from most of the occupied territories.

"Since then, I have systematically repeated those positions," he said, adding that people "will say I'm having problems and that's why I'm trying to do [a peace process], but the facts must be dealt with justly."

Olmert said the Annapolis conference "met more than we could have defined as the Israeli expectations, but that will not absolve us of the difficulties there will be in the negotiations, which will be difficult, complex, and will require a very great deal of patience and sophistication."

According to Olmert, "we now have a partner," in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "He is a weak partner, who is not capable, and, as Tony Blair says, has yet to formulate the tools and may not manage to do so. But it is my job to do everything so that he receives the tools, and to reach an understanding on the guidelines for an agreement. Annapolis is not a historic turning point, but it is a point that can be of assistance."


Abbas: Now is the moment of truth for Palestinian statehood

By Reuters, via Ha'aretz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told his people on Thursday the "moment of truth" on Palestinian statehood has come, following his participation in the Annapolis conference in the United States.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas agreed at the conference hosted by U.S. President George W. Bush this week to try to forge a peace treaty and create a Palestinian state by the end of 2008 - a timetable skeptics say is too ambitious.

"The time of extravagant promises by one rival trying to outbid another must go and not return," Abbas told a rally in Tunis, where he stopped on his way back from the United States. "Now is a moment of truth, not one of illusion," he added.

Abbas is locked in a power struggle with Hamas Islamists who control Gaza, part of the territories occupied in the 1967 Middle East war where Abbas wants to establish a Palestinian state.

"The stark truth says that the whole world recognized our Palestinian state with its East Jerusalem as its capital," Abbas said.

The Palestinian leader described future peace negotiations with Israel as a "political battle" but said he was optimistic about the outcome.

Negotiators will meet again on December 12 in Jerusalem.

"We are starting a political battle on very complex and complicated negotiations with the aim of establishing a Palestinian state," he said.

Abbas was addressing members and officials of Tunisia's ruling Democratic Constitutional Rally party gathered in Tunis to voice support for his efforts to forge a deal with Israel on a Palestinian state.

"My heart is full of hope about the negotiations ... The new opportunity must be exploited with seriousness and faithfulness".


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