October 14, 2003

Geneva Accords The NYT now

Geneva Accords

The NYT now has a story on Yossi Beilin's peacemaking efforts. The main aspects of the plan:

* The Palestinians will concede the right of return. Some refugees will remain in the countries where they now live, others will be absorbed by the PA, some will be absorbed by other countries and some will receive financial compensation. A limited number will be allowed to settle in Israel, but this will not be defined as realization of the right of return.

* The Palestinians will recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

* Israel will withdraw to the 1967 borders, except for certain territorial exchanges, as decribed below.

* Jerusalem will be divided, international force will ensure freedom of access for visitors of all faiths. However, Jewish prayer will not be permitted on the mount, nor will archaeological digs. The Western Wall will remain under Jewish sovereignty and the "Holy Basin" will be under international supervision.

* The settlements of Ariel, Efrat and Har Homa will be part of the Palestinian state. In addition, Israel will transfer parts of the Negev adjacent to Gaza, but not including Halutza, to the Palestinians in exchange for the parts of the West Bank it will receive.

* The Palestinians will pledge to prevent terror and incitement and disarm all militias. Their state will be demilitarized, and border crossings will be supervised by an international, but not Israeli, force.

* The agreement will replace all UN resolutions and previous agreements.

Barak denigrated the plan as "delusional." Frankly, I think that's partly because he's wasn't involved and felt out-maneuvered by some fellow left-leaning Israeli politicians. For one, there isn't too much here that goes beyond what Barak had offered at Camp David II.

And no, the Palestinians do not get a right of return--it's worth stressing again.

I agree with Haaretz that opines that this entire Geneva Accords effort shouldn't be viewed as a product of a "secret and illegitimate relationship with the enemy"as some Likudniks are darkly suggesting.

It's actually a pretty good plan and mirrors much of the Camp David II negotiations. Of course, it's doesn' t have a snowball's chance in hell of getting anywhere. Sharon and other Likudniks detest Yossi Beilin. On the Labor side of the fence--Peres is pretty much saying nothing and Barak is pouring water on it. And, not suprisingly, not a peep out of the White House.

Still, we can perhaps categorize all this under the oft-used "developing" label. Sharon hasn't delivered security to the Israeli people. If you're actually living in Israel--and so aren't issuing arm-chair diktats from far afield to round up all the Palestinians and kick them across the Jordan River--you've actually got to worry, on a daily basis, about existential threats born of the scourge of suicide bombing. Sharon hasn't really helped his public on that score.

The fence is increasingly problematic and will not stem all bombings. Remember, the Haifa bomber got in via a fence checkpoint. It's not a fail-safe solution.

So there is a continuing rationally-derived appetite for the contours of a peace deal. At the very least, Beilin's peace efforts show that the Israeli left hasn't become totally scelerotic. It has survived the last three years of bloodshed--not really in spite of all the violence--but to some extent because of it. Further, and to their credit, people like Beilin realize there is no morally viable military solution to the conflict, ie. the peace processing must go on.

Not as quixotic, academic and rosy-eyed gambits pursued just for kicks, Nobel Prizes, and such--but to try to make real, material progress towards a general settlement. But, to get there, you also need an active U.S. mediation effort. Especially when the Israeli government in power is reticent to make significant concessions. And, on that score, we're pretty much AWOL. So keep expectations low. Real low.

Posted by Gregory at October 14, 2003 10:33 AM
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