Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Plausible or Improbable?

Henry Kissinger knows what Israel must agree to:-

The process is being driven by the assumption that the parties can be led to accept by the end of November - or have already tacitly accepted - the so-called Taba Plan of 2000, developed in the wake of the abortive Camp David meeting by technically non-official negotiators.

It provides for Israeli withdrawal to essentially the 1967 borders (with minor rectifications), retaining only the settlements around Jerusalem but narrowing the corridor between two principal Israeli cities, Haifa and Tel Aviv, to about 20 miles. The to-be-created Palestinian state would be compensated by some equivalent Israeli territory, probably in the underpopulated Negev.

Israel seems prepared to agree to an unrestricted return of refugees to the Palestinian state but adamantly refuses any return to Israel. Plausible reports have the Israeli government willing to cede the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem (as yet undefined) as the capital of a Palestinian state.

But, he is aware of a problem:-

Will diplomacy be able to deliver on these expectations?

The interlocutors on both sides have extremely shaky domestic positions. The governing coalition in Israel has collapsed, and the approval ratings of the Cabinet are at a historic low.

The definition of a Palestinian partner has so far proved elusive. Gaza is governed by Hamas, which is unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of Israel, not to speak of the specific terms under negotiation. Who then takes responsibility for Gaza? And it is unclear how much of the West Bank population Abbas can speak for.

And warns:-

If either America's Arab or Israeli friends are asked to take on more than they are able to withstand, there's the risk of another, even larger blow-up.

So, he can still come up with a bit of wisdom - when it stares him in the face.

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