Israel: June 28, 2002


How To Resume Negotiations For Peace In Israel/Palestine- The minimum requirements for peace are well known. Camp David [and its Taba extension ] proceeded in classic manner, with all issues in a single package. Even if negotiators can agree there will be serious dispute from those [ in Israel ] who do not want a Palestinian state and those [ in Palestine] who insist every 1947 refugee should return. These issues will provoke major internal battles, political [ in Israel] and probably military [ in Palestine.] Those conflicts cannot be avoided and should not be postponed. 

Sari Nussabeh [PA rep in Jerusalem ] said last year [paraphrasing] "If there is to be a two state solution that means one state for us and one state for the Israelis, not one for us and the other for the 1948 refugees." That simple and necessary truth has yet to be digested by the Palestinian body politic, although i suspect most Palestinians realize this at some level. 

Unrestricted right of return of 1947-49 refugees and anything less than independence are non-starters and a deal breakers.. These two issues are a necessary PRE REQUISITE for negotiations. Borders, and even such thorny issues as Jerusalem can be left for the end of talks but not these basics. Israel must formally, publicly agree that the process ends with a Palestinian state comprising nearly all of the West Bank and Gaza. Most Israelis probably accept this, but those who will not must be overcome politically, BEFORE further negotiations can proceed. The PA must formally, publicly agree that 1947-48 Arab refugees will not return to Israel. This contradicts 50 years of Arab propaganda which has promised return of all refugees to their 1947 homes. This is precisely the political problem that must resolved within the Palestinian community before any peace is possible. Without prior public resolution of these two issues further negotiations may be pointless exercises in frustration, which will end in no agreement and renewed war. Unless a Palestinian authority is able and willing to risk the necessary intra- Palestinian civil and political strife to control its own territory, an Israeli withdrawal to approximately the 1949-67 "green line" followed by more terror attacks will lead right back to occupation and war.

Most Jewish settlers in territory that will become Palestine will leave. In a perfect world they might stay under Palestinian rule, but only the hardiest would risk that now. The housing units and developed settlement infrastructure [ roads, wells, electricity, etc.] left behind will be reimbursement for refugees returning to the new Palestine.

In 1948 Jewish fringe groups which tried to continue their own military operations were controlled, by force. Israel has expected Arafat to do the same with Arab extremists. Someday some Palestinian leader will have to enforce such discipline.....unless the Palestinians prefer not a state, but to remain a collection of terrorists groups. -- Eugene Feit (NYC attorney and a member of a policy study group on war and history.) 




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