NY Times touts 'new' peace plan that Abbas previously rejected

Leo Rennert
In its April 5 edition, the New York Times carries an exclusive article by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner about a new initiate for peace with the Arab world that's being promoted by a group of prominent Israelis, including former heads of Mossad, Shin Bet and the military ("Prominent Israelis Will Propose a Peace Plan" page A6).

The plan's sponsors -- mainly centrist and left-wing figures -- slipped an advance copy to the Times, which in turn spreads it over four columns to tout its presumed importance.

But is there anything really "new" in this plan?  According to Bronner, it envisages a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, most of the West Bank, and Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.  Israel would retain up to 7 percent of the West Bank -- with compensating land swaps -- so as to absorb major population blocs like Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion.  The Palestinians would have to abandon their absolute claims to a "right of return" for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Israel also would retain the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.

Upon closer observation, as Bronner himself concedes, this plan "resembles the Clinton parameters of 2000" when a similar proposal was advanced by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Clinton at the Camp 'David summit, and later sweetened a bit more at Taba.  What Bronner fails to point out is that Yasser Arafat summarily rejected the Clinton-Barak initiative..

Bronner also fails to point out that an even more generous Palestinian statehood plan was advanced by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, only to have it summarily rejected by Mahmoud Abbas.

So why all the fuss about a two-state "solution" which the Palestinian leadership -- the "moderate" one, to say nothing of Hamas which is against any two-state solution because it wants Palestine to swallow all of Israel -- repeatedly has turned down?

At best, this is a PR tactic by the political opposition in Israel to pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu to concoct something similar so as to placate President Obama and persuade the Arab world that Israel also is fully committed to Palestinian statehood.

As one of its sponsors puts it, "We want to signal to moderate Palestinians and Syrians (the plan also envisages giving up most of the Golan) that there is a new horizon and light at the end of the tunnel."

The truth of the matter, which Bronner avoids, is that there always has been a light at the end of the Israeli tunnel.  It's just the darkness at the end of the Arab/Palestinian tunnel that that blocked the way to peace.
In its April 5 edition, the New York Times carries an exclusive article by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner about a new initiate for peace with the Arab world that's being promoted by a group of prominent Israelis, including former heads of Mossad, Shin Bet and the military ("Prominent Israelis Will Propose a Peace Plan" page A6).

The plan's sponsors -- mainly centrist and left-wing figures -- slipped an advance copy to the Times, which in turn spreads it over four columns to tout its presumed importance.

But is there anything really "new" in this plan?  According to Bronner, it envisages a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, most of the West Bank, and Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.  Israel would retain up to 7 percent of the West Bank -- with compensating land swaps -- so as to absorb major population blocs like Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion.  The Palestinians would have to abandon their absolute claims to a "right of return" for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Israel also would retain the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.

Upon closer observation, as Bronner himself concedes, this plan "resembles the Clinton parameters of 2000" when a similar proposal was advanced by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Clinton at the Camp 'David summit, and later sweetened a bit more at Taba.  What Bronner fails to point out is that Yasser Arafat summarily rejected the Clinton-Barak initiative..

Bronner also fails to point out that an even more generous Palestinian statehood plan was advanced by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, only to have it summarily rejected by Mahmoud Abbas.

So why all the fuss about a two-state "solution" which the Palestinian leadership -- the "moderate" one, to say nothing of Hamas which is against any two-state solution because it wants Palestine to swallow all of Israel -- repeatedly has turned down?

At best, this is a PR tactic by the political opposition in Israel to pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu to concoct something similar so as to placate President Obama and persuade the Arab world that Israel also is fully committed to Palestinian statehood.

As one of its sponsors puts it, "We want to signal to moderate Palestinians and Syrians (the plan also envisages giving up most of the Golan) that there is a new horizon and light at the end of the tunnel."

The truth of the matter, which Bronner avoids, is that there always has been a light at the end of the Israeli tunnel.  It's just the darkness at the end of the Arab/Palestinian tunnel that that blocked the way to peace.