Sep 19th
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The talk of the town, Jerusalem that is, is that Mitchell, Gates, Ross and a whole US team are in discussions for the sought-after freeze among other things.

One Israeli diplomat commented on Israel’s position,

    “The Americans now understand that if they get anything from us on the settlement issue, it will only be in the broader context of some kind of Arab return,”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to confirm this in a policy speech two days after Obama’s White House meeting with the Jewish representatives.

    “Progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility of the United States - or Israel - alone,” Clinton told the Council on Foreign Relations. “Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority with words and deeds, to take steps to improve relations with Israel and to prepare their publics to embrace peace and accept Israel’s place in the region.”

The Arabs are being asked to allow overflights by Israeli planes and to open trade missions and the like. I personally don’t like where this is going.

Sharon chose to withdraw from Gaza unilaterally but did negotiate with the Bush administrations for two commitments namely that settlement blocks would remain part of Israel and that Arab refugees would not be returned to Israel. Obama shredded these understandings.

Since the bain of Israel’s existence is the constant pressure by the US on Israel to make concessions, at a minimum, Israel should require the US to commit in writing in the form of a treaty to what settlements will remain in Israel. Only then, and providing that the US allows Israel’s retention of all the settlement blocks including Maaleh Adumin and Ariel, should Israel agree to a freeze in the rest. Thus there would be no reason to freeze settlements in the parts being retained. That is the only acceptable quid pro quo for the freeze.

Many would argue, particularly the Arabs, that the US has no right to commit on their behalf. True enough but she does have the right to commit on her own behalf. And while we are at it, she should get the EU, if not the whole Quartet, to agree to the deal. Who cares what the Arabs think. The Arabs are nothing without the US support.

The gestures being asked of the Arabs are of little value. Better to get them to amend the Saudi Plan in a meaningful way for the gestures to have any meaning. It could be amended to exclude the right of return and to commit to normalization of relations during the peace process. As it is, they will only work toward normalization, whatever that is, after Israel withdraws. Perhaps a Roadmap is required for the normalization process to proceed along with the peace process. This isn’t about to happen.

While I am on it, I would remind readers that Israel never agreed to the Saudi Plan. When Powell added it to the Roadmap in a surprise move, Sharon objected to its inclusion and Powell rejected the rejection arguing the Roadmap was only a process.

Nevertheless the Res 242 was over-ridden as the basis of a settlement with this wording in the preamble,

    A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors. The settlement will resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and end the occupation that began in 1967, based on the foundations on the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah - endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit - calling for acceptance of Israel as a neighbor living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement. This initiative is a vital element of international efforts to promote a comprehensive peace on all tracks, including the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli tracks.

Prior to that time Israel had not agreed to the inclusion of the Saudi Plan nor to the creation of a Palestinian state, and certainly not to the idea that it must be viable or contiguous.

As for the settlements, it provided

    * GOI immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.

    * Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).

Three months ago I asked What settlement freeze commitment? and pointed out that the freeze to be consistent with the Mitchell report required have required as a pre-condition

    1) (PA) should immediately implement an unconditional cessation of violence. 
    2) that negotiations “must, in our view, manifest a spirit of compromise, reconciliation and partnership,”

I concluded that “Since the Arabs did not end the violence and incitement, there is no imperative for Israel to freeze settlement activity.”

In 2003 I wrote Reject the Road Map:Its worse than a Trojan horse, its a time bomb.

    The Road Map will prove Israel’s undoing. There is nothing good in it for Israel. No basis for hope.

    I could write another couple of pages to illustrate how bad it is for Israel. Suffice it so say that it castrates Israel. They are to be forced to accept a multilateral process at the expense of its own sovereignty. The Quartet will decide if the Palestinians are doing enough to end terror, on the right of return, on the rights of a Palestinian State, on where the borders are and what is to become of Jerusalem. I say this even when the Road Map provides that all issues are to be negotiated.

    It is an unmitigated disaster for Israel. It is worse than a Trojan horse, it is a time bomb. Israel should stand its ground now and fight diplomatically before they are burdened with the implications of having accepted it. At the moment Israel has accepted the Bush vision of two states with all the preconditions. They should never accept any other guiding principle as presently in the Road Map, such as the Saudi Peace Plan, or that Israel must cooperate to make the state “viable”, or that the Quartet will decide anything. It is bad enough that they have accepted the vision of a two state solution. I would have preferred that only when borders are agreed upon, to Israel’s liking, would they agree to a state.

All this is ignored.

For that matter, neither is the US going to commit to such a deal as I have suggested.

Netanyahu’s position, backed by a national consensus is that the Arabs must agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, to be unmilitarized, and to accept Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. He made no mention of settlements or borders specifically but I believe that the settlements blocks in the land previously annexed by Israel would remain in Israel along with the rest of Jerusalem as part of his consensus.

To believe that the Arabs will accept this deal is as delusional as the left’s belief in the inevitability of peace.

So why is everyone going through the motions. Better to appear to be doing something rather than nothing.

Don’t just stand there, do something.

Russian version
An introduction to MAOF
Haim Goldman

Dear Friends,

Would you believe that the undersigned has anything in common with

-- Professor Victor Davis Hanson (Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University),
-- Dr Charles Krauthammer, (Washington Post, Time, The Weekly Standard),
-- Caroline Glick (Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post),
-- Jonathan Tobin (Executive Editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent).

Amazingly, the editors of the MAOF website decided that the missives of the undersigned are worthy of translation and posting along the articles written by these distinguished authors.

The first letter was published without the consent of the undersigned.
However, after thorough examination of the laudable attitude of MAOF and of the excellent contents of the website, the undersigned had most graciously granted his permission for publication of his missives in both English and Russian.

“Analytical Group MAOF” [1] is an organisation founded about ten years ago by Russian-speaking Jewish intellectuals. The attitude of MAOF is definitely pro-Zionist -- unambiguously and unapologetically.

One of MAOF’s primary purposes is providing information and analysis about Middle-Eastern and world affairs as well as about Israel’s history, values and dilemmas. In addition to extensive publication activity in various media, MAOF also organises excursions and seminars. While the vast majority of the contents of the MAOF website is in Russian, texts originally written in English are provided in the original [2] as well as in Russian.

There are arguably about 250 millions of Russian-speakers worldwide and many of them do not read English. The indisputable motivation for the author’s permission was to grant those millions of disadvantaged people the grand benefit of reading the author’s ruminations. If the author is ever maliciously accused that his tacit motivation for authorising the publication was his craving to be listed along with the above-mentioned distinguished writers, his plea will definitely be “nolo contendere”.

The editors of MAOF expressed their gratitude by granting the undersigned a privilege that no other author got – the opportunity to review and correct the Russian translation before publication. The original letters of the undersigned are at [3] and their Russian version is at [4]. At of today, only two letters are posted but several other letters are pending translation.

You are kindly ENCOURAGED TO RECOMMEND the MAOF website to your friends and colleagues worldwide, particularly those who speak Russian. Those who do not enjoy the benefit of proficiency in the exquisite Russian language can find many thought-provoking and inspiring articles about Middle-Eastern and world affairs in the English section [2].


Haim Goldman


[2] section.php3? sid=37&num=25
[3] authorg.php3? id=2107&type=a
[4] authorg.php3? id=2166&type=a