Thursday, April 14, 2005

Roads to Peace ?

The Financial Times of 4 Jan 2005 carried a report about some proposals made at the Herzliya conference. These concerned interlocking deals to exchange land between Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. I couldn't find anything on the FT's site, nor on the conference's. The gist however can be found in the news brief from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, December 13, 2004 ('New proposal for Golan')

Read the 'road map' or, as Dominique Strauss-Kahn recommended soon after Arafat's death, the unofficial Draft Final Status Agreement (Geneva Accords), here in French or here in English (neither, though, has the annexes, with the all-too-important detail.

Finally, read 'The Interregnum' by James Bennett, from the NYT Magazine. There's a lot more in it than the following extracts.
A few days after Arafat's burial, I visited the guards outside his Gaza City headquarters, which like the Ramallah compound had been bombed repeatedly by Israel. They said they would protect this ruin by the Mediterranean forever, as a memorial. Then one blustery day in February, the governing Palestinian Authority obliterated it, leaving a trim sand lot and a clean sweep to the sea.
But he was right about at least one big thing. Arafat's core insight, derived in the 1960's from Frantz Fanon, was to reject the ascendant pan-Arabism of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and to posit instead a Palestinian exceptionalism. He believed that a distinct Palestinian nationalism would take shape through armed struggle with Israel. After Israel humiliated Nasser and the Arab armies in the Six-Day War in 1967, Arafat and his vision emerged as the heroic alternative.
Hardest for some Palestinians to admit is the influence of Israel, of the parliamentary debates and acerbic press they followed on television and in the newspapers. To be Palestinian is to be intimately, painfully acquainted with paradox. It is to know that, in part, you owe your national character and your democratic dream to the very people who occupied your land and compromised your rights.
Abbas's approach is different, but his stated goals are like Arafat's. ... Abbas also rejected the deal that Barak offered at Camp David. Like other Palestinians who support a two-state solution, Abbas argues that the Palestinian leadership made its territorial concession many years ago, agreeing to settle for the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. That amounts to a mere 22 percent of historic Palestine, Abbas likes to point out. A refugee himself, Abbas is no less insistent than Arafat that Israel recognize a ''right of return'' for refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and their descendants, though he has explored ways to limit any resulting immigration into Israel.
What is known rather grimly as a ''final status'' deal does appear a long way off. There is a possible intermediate step, and Abbas fears it. He worries that the Israelis and Americans will seize on a Gaza withdrawal to push for a possibility mentioned in the road map, the creation of ''an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders.'' No one knows exactly what this would be. But it would give the appearance of a great step forward, an achievement for Bush on the order of Oslo. Abbas says he would reject it as a trap, a version of what Sharon calls a ''long-term interim agreement'' that would defer resolution of the toughest issues. Abbas thinks it could create a state that hopscotched from Gaza through enclaves on the West Bank, while downgrading the conflict to just another border dispute and releasing international pressure on Israel for further concessions. From a historical perspective, it is an astounding possibility: that Ariel Sharon could wind up insisting on a Palestinian state over the objections of a Palestinian leader. If Bush backs it, it may be an offer Abbas cannot refuse.
From Eric the U, on the UK election, Could Labour lose? ---


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