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Post Netanyahu and Israel's Settlement Policy
Created by John Eipper on 01/28/13 2:26 AM

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Netanyahu and Israel's Settlement Policy (Istvan Simon, USA, 01/28/13 2:26 am)

Paul Pitlick's quotes (27 January) from the Wikipedia article on the Camp David negotiations are very selective. I disagree with his claims, and so I would like to cite a larger paragraph from the same article:

"The Palestinian negotiators indicated they wanted full Palestinian sovereignty over the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip, although they would consider a one-to-one land swap with Israel. They maintained that Resolution 242 calls for full Israeli withdrawal from these territories, which were captured in the Six-Day War, as part of a final peace settlement, although Israel disputes this interpretation of Resolution 242. In the 1993 Oslo Accords the Palestinian negotiators accepted the Green Line borders for the West Bank but the Israelis rejected this proposal. They wanted to annex the numerous settlement blocks on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, and were concerned that a complete return to the 1967 borders was dangerous to Israel's security.[citation needed]

"Barak offered to form a Palestinian State initially on 73% of the West Bank (that is, 27% less than the Green Line borders) and 100% of the Gaza Strip. In 10-25 years, the Palestinian state would expand to a maximum of 92% of the West Bank (94% excluding greater Jerusalem). As a result, Israel would have withdrawn from 63 settlements. Israel would only keep the settlements with large populations. All others would be dismantled, with the exception of Kiryat Arba (adjacent to the holy city of Hebron), which would be an Israeli enclave inside the Palestinian state, and would be linked to Israel by a bypass road. The West Bank would be split in the middle by an Israeli-controlled road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, with free passage for Palestinians, although Israel reserved the right to close the road to passage in case of emergency. In return, Israel would allow the Palestinians to use a highway in the Negev to connect the West Bank with Gaza. In the Israeli proposal, the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be linked by an elevated highway and an elevated railroad running through the Negev, ensuring safe and free passage for Palestinians. This highway would be under the sovereignty of Israel, and Israel reserved the right to close the highway to passage in case of emergency.

"However, Israel would retain around 9% of Palestinian lands in exchange for 1% of Israeli land. The land that would be conceded included symbolic and cultural territories such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, whereas the Israeli land conceded was unspecified. Additional to territorial concessions, Palestinian airspace would be controlled by Israel under Barak's offer.

"Additional grounds of rejection was that the Israeli proposal planned to annex areas which would lead to a cantonization of the West Bank into three blocs. Settlement blocs, bypassed roads and annexed lands would create barriers between Nablus and Jenin with Ramallah. The Ramallah bloc would in turn be divided from Bethlehem and Hebron. A separate and smaller bloc would contain Jericho. Further, the border between West Bank and Jordan would additionally be under Israeli control. The Palestinian Authority would receive pockets of East Jerusalem which would be surrounded entirely by annexed lands in the West Bank."

Now, the "cantonization" quote is entirely a Palestinian point of view, and one that was adopted as a negotiating position to extract possibly greater concessions from Israel. Paul Pitlick is of course entitled to agree with the Palestinian negotiating position. But he cannot expect that I must also agree with these characterizations. And I don't.

It is clear from the larger quote that I included above, that Prime Minister Barak offered unprecedented major concessions to Yasser Arafat, including the complete dismantlement of 63 Jewish Settlements.

Further, such a proposal can only be interpreted in a fair light, if the history of the conflict is taken into account, including the experience of the Israelis, that have been murdered and attacked continuously since at least the 1920s, thus much before the modern state of Israel came into existence. Once again, Paul Pitlick is entitled to his opinions, and therefore to ignore these facts, and discuss the creation of a Palestinian state as if it were some sort of abstract exercise in map making. But in my view, such a position will never succeed, because Israel will not ever agree, in my considered judgement, and in my opinion rightly so.

The restrictions on the Palestinian state to be, are there for a reason. The reason is the history of the Palestinians against the Jews, that have been murdering Jews and later Israelis for over 90 years. That is why they would not have complete control of their borders, and other like restrictions. It is in my opinion very foolish to say, that because of this a Palestinian state would not be viable. On the contrary, it would be very much viable, and the restrictions could very well be removed at a future time, if the Palestinians were to show that they can live in peace with their Jewish neighbors.

Finally, I want to address Dr. Pitlick's comment in which he asked, quoting Sarah Palin, "how is that working out for you?"

I will answer him by asking him and the Palestinians the same question: "How is it working out for you, your decision to launch an Intifadah instead of accepting Prime Minister Barak's proposal, or at least offer a counter-proposal?"

Are you really better off than you might be, had you accepted that proposal, even if we accept the "cantonization" interpretation? Does Dr. Pitlick think that the Palestinians have gotten closer to a "non-cantonized" state since the Camp David negotiations, or rather further away from such a goal?

JE comments: I believe we can agree that the Palestinians are now further away from a non-cantonized state than they were at Camp David. But the region is also further away from peace.  One thing that both sides in this conflict must do is to stop citing "history" as a justification for their present positions.  They must start with a clean state, or else a two-state solution will never be reached.

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  • Camp David 2000 (John Heelan, -UK 01/28/13 8:20 AM)
    In response to Istvan Simon (28 January), the following article from the Jewish Virtual Library on "Camp David 2000" makes interesting reading and is perhaps a better source than Wikipedia.


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    • Camp David 2000 (Istvan Simon, USA 01/29/13 4:59 AM)
      I am much obliged to John Heelan (28 January) for forwarding this excellent summary of what happened at the Camp David negotiations and the subsequent offer which was even more generous than what was offered at Camp David.

      I would be interested in Paul Pitlick's comments (and JE's, who has repeated here some of the mis-characterizations of what was offered in previous comments, e.g., the "Swiss cheese" theory, the non-contiguous-state-impediment theory, and the "cantonization" theory), since the article explicitly states that none of these applied to the final offer that Arafat rejected. It is therefore clear that these "objections" had been red herrings, because when the final offer was presented by President Clinton, each of these previous supposedly major objections had been addressed in Arafat's favor, and yet Arafat did not have anything positive to say.

      The following quote says it all:

      Nonetheless, the three leaders met at the White House in December and a final settlement proposal was offered. The US plan offered by Clinton and endorsed by Barak would have given the Palestinians 97 percent of the West Bank (either 96 percent of the West Bank and 1 percent from Israel proper or 94 percent from the West Bank and 3 percent from Israel proper), with no cantons, and full control of the Gaza Strip, with a land-link between the two; Israel would have withdrawn from 63 settlements as a result. In exchange for the three percent annexation of the West Bank, Israel would increase the size of the Gaza territory by roughly a third. Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new state, and refugees would have the right of return to the Palestinian state, and would receive reparations from a $30 billion international fund collected to compensate them. The Palestinians would maintain control over their holy places, and would be given desalinization plants to ensure them adequate water. The only concessions Arafat had to make was Israeli sovereignty over the parts of the Western Wall religiously significant to Jews (i.e., not the entire Temple Mount), and three early warning stations in the Jordan valley, which Israel would withdraw from after six years.

      Now, I would like to emphasize in this, that the Palestinians, in my opinion, will never get such an offer again from Israel. For what President Clinton offered, and Prime Minister Barak fully endorsed, was the division of Jerusalem, in which the Palestinians would get East Jerusalem, in which they could have their capital. No Israeli government will ever offer this again, and in my opinion rightly so. I have thought about the issue of Jerusalem for a long time, before and after Camp David, and I fully support the annexation of Jerusalem to Israel, and I have consistently defended that position within WAIS. Jerusalem shall never again be divided, and so I think that Barak went way too far, not that he did not go far enough. By not accepting this offer, Arafat committed a major blunder, and the Palestinians lost their best chance at peace. If they ever shall want peace again (it is not clear to me that the Palestinians want peace--Hamas certainly does not), they will have to accept less generous terms.

      JE comments: As a language guy, I find it interesting that both "cantons" and Swiss cheese have Helvetic connotations--but Switzerland is a peaceful multilingual society. Istvan Simon has written several times that the Camp David offer of 2000 presented Palestine with the chance for a geographically viable state. Since the offer was rejected, we'll never know. Might Arafat have been most concerned with the de facto hegemony of Israel over a new Palestine, given its "warning stations," control of access roads and the like?

      I think we've exhausted the topic of what might have been. Dovetailing on Paul Levine's post of earlier today, I'd like to refocus our discussion and ask what influence Lapid's secularists might have on the peace process.

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      • Camp David 2000, Revisited (Paul Pitlick, USA 02/11/13 2:11 AM)
        Here's a somewhat belated response to Istvan Simon's post of 29 January, in which Istvan responded to my previous questions with a list of things Israel would have given up for establishment of a Palestinian state. For example, they would have relinquished 63 settlements. And there would be a road and train connecting the West Bank and Gaza.

        But my issue was with what Israel wouldn't allow. For example, the Israeli settlements left within the Palestinian "state" would have been under Israel's control, including access. Also the Gaza-West Bank highway/train would have been under Israel's control, as well as the borders and the airspace of the new state. So my question was, "How many 'states' in the history of the world were not allowed to control their own borders or air space, nor control internal movements of their own people and/or citizens of a hostile neighbor, and were not allowed to have a military?" Finally, if we can think of any, "How'd they do long-term?"

        JE comments: That's a head-scratcher. The only examples I can think of are the Vatican and perhaps the UN. Both of these are unique "states," however, and certainly not comparable to Palestine.  Moreover, neither is surrounded by a hostile neighbor, although there have been times when the Vatican has been at odds with the secular authorities in Rome and Italy.  And finally, the Vatican has its own military, albeit foreign.  Their weaponry is obsolete, but they make up for it with snazzy uniforms.

        Returning to Israel/Palestine, Paul Pitlick asks a specific question:  did the Israeli offer at Camp David give Palestine any realistic chance for a viable state?  Istvan Simon has already answered that it was the best offer the Palestinians could ever hope for.  This may be true, but it doesn't directly address Paul's question.

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        • Viability of a Palestinian State (Istvan Simon, USA 02/12/13 5:55 AM)
          Per the Camp David offer of 2000, the Israeli settlements that were to be left are all very near to Israeli soil. So what Paul Pitlick says (11 February) is just not true. The Palestinians would have had a state, and they would have controlled the movements of their own people unfettered.

          If they learned to live with Israel in peace, in due time they could have control of their airspace too. These objections are frankly just red herrings. No one cares in their ordinary lives, about who controls their airspace. Particularly if there is peace. It is just not an issue that matters to most ordinary people. It certainly does not matter to me. Spy satellites can see if I am naked or not in the privacy of my own backyard. Who cares?

          The United States violated the airspace of the Soviet Union pretty regularly, and yet no one ever said that the Soviet Union was not a viable state. If we could violate their airspace, it follows that they did not control it. And it was a good thing too, because it was through the U-2 flights that President Eisenhower knew that the Pentagon's estimates of Soviet military strength were grossly exaggerated.

          Costa Rica does not have an army, and certainly does not control its airspace. Any number of neighboring countries can violate it at will. Is Costa Rica not a viable state? When I was in Costa Rica, not one Costa Rican complained that their airspace can be violated, say, by Nicaragua. It is just not an issue at all if there is peace.


          JE comments: I agree with Istvan on one point: when there is peace, no one cares about airspace. But the Costa Rica analogy is far-fetched. First of all, CR should be compared to Israel, not Palestine, as it's far more prosperous than Nicaragua and also enjoys US protection. Most importantly, Costa Rica and Nicaragua aren't competing for control of the same homeland. Therein lies the biggest obstacle to peace in Israel.

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          • Viability of a Palestinian State (Paul Pitlick, USA 02/13/13 1:26 AM)
            I'll try to make this my last response to Istvan Simon's posts about a proposed Palestinian "state." Concerning Istvan's contention (12 February) that "the Israeli settlements that were to be left are all very near to Israeli soil," I looked all over the web for maps of where the remaining settlements were located, as well as the access roads, and I was unable to find any, but there were many settlements throughout the West Bank in 2000. In the "trust but verify mode," could Istvan please cite a reference or two?

            Also, my understanding is that the travel of Palestinian farmers who have land on both sides of an Israeli access road is actually quite "fettered." If Istvan disagrees with this, I hope there will be some reference(s) to substantiate his opinion. While it's true I may have gleaned this from pro-Palestinian websites, there must be some objective data somewhere about how Palestinian interests are either protected or dismissed by the Israelis with respect to settlements as well as the access roads, within the West Bank. The settlements are one thing, but my understanding is that a fair amount of inconvenience for the Palestinians is related to the roads which Israel controls, not just the settlements.

            JE comments: "Trust but verify": doveryai, no proveryai. It's striking that one of the all-time great Reagan quotes was in Russian.  Even more striking (to me) is that Reagan first popularized this proverb in 1987, over 25 years ago.

            A question for Cameron Sawyer:  Is "doveryai no proveryai" still commonly heard in Russia, and if so, is it done with a nod to the Great Communicator?

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            • Viability of a Palestinian State (John Heelan, -UK 02/13/13 2:48 PM)
              I read with interest the recent interchange between Paul Pitlick and Istvan Simon on Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. "Camp David" by Israel's supporters is often cited as a "chance missed." But was it really? To me, it appears that it was just another of the ritual dances demanded of both parties at regular intervals by the US and the International community, in which neither of the parties was really interested reaching an agreement. So once again it followed the usual pattern of an offer being made--knowing it would be unacceptable to the other party--who was determined to reject any offer, no matter how acceptable it would be. Each party ends up blaming the other for the lack of agreement that neither really wants. And so the dance goes on! Both parties pirouette in solitude, while continuing to enjoy political and economic support from their sponsors. Will the music ever stop?

              JE comments: John Heelan gives perhaps the most incisive interpretation yet of the Israel/Palestine conflict: there's no peace because enough powerful people on both sides don't want it.  But where do we go from here?  Keep dancing this Dance of Death? 

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