Motzei Simchat Torah (after the holiday)
The prospects for a "peace" between Israel and the PA, that is, to be negotiated before the proposed conference in November.
Well, that’s not quite an accurate statement . For as far as I have been concerned there have been NO prospects for a negotiated peace no matter how much the notion has been promoted, and that’s what I’ve been saying. But now, returning from a splendid Sukkot week, which ended today here in Israel, I am able to more clearly report the signs of the deterioration of that so-called process.
In a nutshell, what we are seeing is this:
Abbas, as predicted, wants it all . And I mean ALL. He said a few days ago that the 92% of Judea and Samaria that Barak offered to Arafat in 2000 was unacceptable. He is demanding that Israel return to the pre-June 1967 lines. That means leaving all of the Old City, including the Kotel and the Jewish Quarter, and relinquishing Jewish neighborhoods such as French Hill and Gilo. It means pulling every single Jew out of every settlement including the whole Etzion bloc. He won’t, he says, settle for a land swap, either.
But Olmert cannot possible give all of this, whether he might like to or not. His coalition — which includes Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, and members of Kadima such as Mofaz who came from Likud (all those who should really be pulling out of the coalition and causing it to collapse) — will not tolerate it. There is no way.
And there’s more: Abbas wants a full agreement before the conference, meaning settlement of the return of the "refugees" and issues of water rights.
As of two days ago, Khaled Abu Toameh was reporting that the members of Fatah are now hinting that a failure of the conference will lead to violence, just as the failure of Camp David in 2000 led to the second Intifada. Except this time it will be even worse, they say.
What is suggested is that raised expectations , when met with frustrations, will cause an explosion among the people. Well, there is something to that. The Palestinians are violence-prone.
But let me here make one thing crystal clear here : The Intifada in 2000 was not a spontaneous response from the people because of frustration. It was planned by Arafat and overtly choreographed by the likes of Marwan Barghouti; I have solid documentation on this and will gladly share it with anyone who contacts me.
For associates of Abbas to be alluding to this now is nothing but a veiled threat. THIS is the "bargaining" style of the Palestinian leadership: give us what we want or else. And this, my friends, is precisely why Abbas doesn’t take out terrorist infrastructure. It is there waiting to serve his purpose when the time suits him. This was Arafat’s style exactly, and Abbas was Arafat’s deputy and part and parcel of all that went on.
I read this, and I think, here we go again . I made aliyah during that Intifada, and lived with my own moments of fear here in Jerusalem. But, even if G-d forbid it should come, a thousand times better than giving them everything past the Green Line.
My greatest anger is reserved not for the Palestinians — about whom I have no illusions whatsoever — but rather Bush and Rice and Olmert and Livni and all those who imagine we can deal with these terrorists, and who invite this deteriorating situation.
So where are we now? Abbas met with Olmert at his Jerusalem residence yesterday and they’ve got teams working on the wording of a joint agreement. Rice is coming to town soon and will shuttle between Ramallah and Jerusalem strong-arming everyone into coming up with something. Olmert is standing on his head to be agreeable, but privately some of his people are expressing pessimism about the possibilities of coming to terms.
There is only one way in which there might be a joint agreement, and that is if Abbas backs down on his demand that everything be settled before the conference, and consents to a general statement. There are reports that this is what will happen, with negotiations slated to follow the conference and Abbas claiming all can be resolved within six months. But other reports are saying the Palestinians deny this. There are even still hints from the Palestinians that they might not attend the conference at all if it won’t be substantive. According to a London-based paper, Asharq Alawsat, Abbas is "disappointed" with Olmert.
Israel Army Radio says that Olmert is demanding that every document drawn up before the conference include the letter Sharon received from Bush before the "disengagement," which refused to recognize the right of return and suggested that major settlement blocs should be retained by Israel.
And there is one other factor of significance with regard to this whole matter: Reports have surfaced that Egypt’s mediation between Fatah and Hamas has been successful and that the two parties have agreed to hold talks in Cairo. This came from yet another London based Arab paper, al-Sharq al-Awsat, and was quite specific in providing details: Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, has been in charge of the mediation, meeting with Mashaal in Damascus and Abbas and others in Ramallah; Azzam al-Ahmad is scheduled to head the Fatah delegation in the talks.
Just a week ago in a Newsweek interview , Abbas said he would have nothing more to do with Hamas. So what else is new?
There was anger among some members of the Knesset this week that Olmert would meet with Abbas when these reports had already been made public.
What is of key importance here for me is the way in which a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement will affect the negotiations Abbas seeks with Israel. This might be the ultimate source of the breakdown. Olmert has stated unequivocally (although there is little that is truly unequivocal for him, he would be held to it by others) that he wouldn’t deal with Abbas if he was again associated with Hamas.
I also believe that Abbas’s various positions in seeking negotiations with Israel are affected by his relationship with Hamas.
This, and much more , bears close watching.