There is an old expression, there is never enough time to do things right the first time, but there is always time to do things right the second time. When it comes to this supposed peace process being over seen by Secretary of State Rice there isn’t time to do it right on what seems to be the 100th time.
Condi is trying so hard to push Israel into an untenable peace, all she will end up with is another failure. Either like Olso the Palestinians will see how easy it is to get concessions so they will break off talks and go for the whole “shebang” or the still growing movement against dividing Jerusalem and giving up the Jewish Holy sites will force Israel to draw a line in the sand and break off talks–either way this Annapolis conference—if it ever happens is doomed to failure.
There can be no peace without preparation. The last three Prime Ministers of Israel have spoken about making painful concessions. Abbas has only talked about not making concession, his TV and school materials still drum up anti-semitic hatred. The Palestinians aren’t ready for peace, and all Rice is doing is creating a no-win situation that will bring more death upon the region.
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BY RON RADOSH
November 5, 2007
Today, on the eve of the proposed Annapolis peace conference orchestrated by Secretary of State Rice, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries is holding a press conference to remind the world of a long forgotten or ignored fact: In 1947, the Arab League drafted a law proclaiming that all Jews living as minorities in the Arab states would in effect have their rights taken away. If a state of Israel were proclaimed and the United Nations voted for partition of Palestine — for the creation of a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian Arab state — the League threatened that the massacre of Jews could follow throughout the rest of the Arab world.
When Israel finally was created on May 15, 1948, a headline in the New York Times declared, “Jews in Grave Danger in all Moslem Lands.” In Syria and Lebanon, all Jews were regarded as Zionist agents and fifth columnists. The World Jewish Congress appealed to the United Nations, detailing in a long memo the many examples of continuing persecution of Jews in Arab nations. While the Jews of Palestine rejoiced in the creation of their own state, Jews still living in Arab lands faced the extinction of their own long-established communities.
JJAC correctly notes that while the world knows about and shows concern for Palestinian Arab refugees, Jews who were living in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Gulf region long before the creation of Israel found themselves uprooted and subjugated, treated as hostages of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Between the 1940s and the 1970s, the group points out, the exodus of Jewish refugees from Arab lands numbered 856,000 — more than the 726,000 Palestinian Arabs who became refugees after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The Palestinian Arab leaders, who continually have called for the “right of return” of the original refugees to their homeland in Palestine — which in effect would mean the end of Israel and creation of a unitary new Arab state — ignore the rights and concerns of Jewish refugees from Arab lands
This history raises the question of what the State Department today thinks the outcome will be of a peace conference, when both the Israeli leader, Ehud Olmert, and the Palestinian Arab leader in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas, have little support and authority in their own countries. Once again, the Palestinian Arab negotiators will make unattainable demands — and refuse to give up the so-called “right of return” — while the Israeli negotiators, prodded by the Bush administration and Ms. Rice, will be encouraged to make concessions that would never be supported by Israel’s people.
Since the time before Israel was even declared a state, the Palestinian Arabs have turned down any proposal for a two-state solution, even though the existence of their own state would then be guaranteed. In 1947, the Zionist movement, by contrast, gave up its demand for a state in all of Palestine, and reluctantly agreed to accept partition — although it meant giving up the dream that its adherents had worked for since the time of Theodor Herzl.
At the Camp David conference in 2000 and later at the follow-up Taba meeting, the Palestinian Arabs had their best chance to reverse course and accept the idea of a Jewish state as a neighbor. Most commentators rightfully regarded the terms offered to the Palestinian Arabs as a major breakthrough. As Dennis Ross has pointed out in his book “The Missing Peace” and in scores of interviews, America offered a comprehensive set of proposals that would have given the Palestinian Arabs a demilitarized State on 92% of the West Bank and on 100% of the Gaza strip, including territorial compensation for Palestinian Arabs from the pre-1967 Israeli territory.
The Arab capital would be set up in East Jerusalem, and some areas would become sovereign Palestinian Arab territory, including half of the Old City of Jerusalem. When Arafat rejected the terms, President Clinton famously told him, “You are leading your people and the region to a catastrophe.” As Mr. Clinton said, according to Ehud Barak, the American offer was “very close to the Palestinian demands, and Arafat refused even to accept it as a basis for negotiations, walked out of the room, and deliberately turned to terrorism.”
But even this truth is denied by the men who were carrying out negotiations for Fatah. Earlier this year, I attended a meeting in Israel of American journalists with Saeb Erekat, Arafat’s chief negotiator at Camp David, and today Mr. Abbas’s chief negotiator, and heard his explanation for why Camp David failed. Arafat did not walk out, Mr. Erekat told us. He accepted everything America was offering, and it was Mr. Clinton and his team who broke up the conference and left without accomplishing anything.
Another negotiator for the Palestinian Arabs, Hassan Abdel Rahman, said at the time that the reason Arafat did not come forward to explain this was that Mr. Clinton had told him they would work together in the future, and if it came out that America had walked out, it would have hurt Hillary Clinton’s Senate race in New York City.
At our meeting, Mr. Erekat repeated this. He even added that he had dinner in New York years later with Mr. Clinton, who apologized to him for not being truthful. What about what Mr. Clinton and Dennis Ross both said to the contrary in their own books? I asked. Mr. Erekat’s answer: “They lied.”
This surreal version of events reveals much about why negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs will not get anywhere. Mr. Erekat said we all know the only answer: a two-state solution. But he then went on to stress that the Palestinian Arabs would never give up the “right to return.”
Now with Hamas becoming ever more powerful, Fatah in retreat, and Mr. Abbas’s power ever more insecure, no Palestinian Arab team will accept any meaningful compromise. The six decades of history that JJAC reminds us of suggest that the only result of Annapolis will be greater failure, much dismay, and a Middle East further away than ever from peace.
Mr. Radosh, a contributing editor of The New York Sun and an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is completing a book on Truman and the creation of Israel.