Saturday, January 29, 2011

That Durn Wall

A cartoon (k/t: AL)

that illustrated this Financial Times report:

Settlements bury a Palestinian state by Philip Stephens

that asserts a thesis, in  his understanding of the Palileaks that

The central narrative is much as it seemed – Palestinian weakness and hesitations colliding with Israeli obduracy.
While he does open with balance:


This gloss has a craven Mr Abbas secretly offering to surrender most of East Jerusalem and to abandon millions of refugees. You don’t have to have a suspicious mind to conclude the purpose was to weaken the Palestinian negotiators and to slam the door on more talks. None has been more pleased by the furore than Hamas, the Islamist group in control of Gaza.


Yet, look through the other end of the telescope and it is the Israeli side that comes off worse. While Palestinian officials were ready – desperate even – to (literally) give ground, the Israelis mostly made offers their interlocutors could only refuse.

His conclusion:

The papers thus debunk the myth carefully constructed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of a feckless Palestinian side unwilling to engage properly.

His ridiuculousness is highlighted by twisting history.  This account:

It is important to say there were one or two moments when Israel might have taken a different course. The closest it came to breaking free of intransigence was in 2008 when Ehud Olmert, the then prime minister, made a comprehensive territorial offer to the Palestinians.
is just the opposite.  The Pals. left the table with Olmert's offer but neglected to return or accept it.

Here, from the NYTimes:

In excerpts from the memoirs published Thursday in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, and in an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Olmert provides details on negotiations that have been the focus of attention and Arab anger this week because of leaks to Al Jazeera, the television network, of Palestinian documents with minutes from related meetings. The leaks may well make it harder for concessions to be offered in the future.

Mr. Olmert said the two sides had agreed on key principles: the state of Palestine would have no military; an American-led international security force, not Israeli soldiers, would be stationed on its border with Jordan; Jerusalem would be shared, with its holy sites overseen by a multinational committee; and a limited number of Palestinian refugees would be permitted back into what is now Israel, while the rest would be generously compensated.

The two agreed that Israel could keep some land in the West Bank on which settlements had been built, but disagreed over how much. Mr. Olmert wanted 6.5 percent of the area but would go as low as 5.9 percent; Mr. Abbas offered 1.9 percent.

In a separate interview, Mr. Abbas confirmed most of Mr. Olmert’s account. Both said they hoped at the time that American proposals would settle the differences...

...Mr. Olmert notes in his memoirs that his last meeting with Mr. Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, took place on Sept. 16, 2008, in Mr. Olmert’s Jerusalem home. He had presented the Palestinian leader with his map of Palestine minus the 6.5 percent that would stay with Israel. Alongside it was a map of Israel with the equivalent amount of land to be annexed by Palestine.

“Abu Mazen said that he could not decide and that he needed time,” Mr. Olmert writes. “I told him that he was making an historic mistake.

“ ‘Give me the map so that I can consult with my colleagues,’ he said to me. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Take the pen and sign now. You’ll never get an offer that is fairer or more just. Don’t hesitate. This is hard for me too, but we don’t have an option of not resolving this.’

“I saw that he was agonizing. In the end he said to me, ‘Give me a few days. I don’t know my way around maps. I propose that tomorrow we meet with two map experts, one from your side and one from our side. If they tell me that everything is all right, we can sign.’ The next day they called and said that Abu Mazen had forgotten that they needed to be in Amman that day, and they asked to postpone the meeting by a week.

“I haven’t met with Abu Mazen since then. The map stayed with me.”

And what does Stephens claim? That

Mr Olmert’s offer came too late.

But he's spot on with this observation:

If the papers convey a single message, however, it is that the opportunity for a deal has probably passed. The settlements have served their intended purpose of creating facts on the ground that preclude a viable Palestinian state.

That wall in the cartoon?

It's from Jabotinsky's article of 1923.


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