WaPo Peddles Fictionalized Version of Arab League Peace Plan
The devil is in the details, and none more so when it comes to peace plans to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With Secretary of State John Kerry lauding an Arab League initiative as a potential basis for a peace deal, it's important for media coverage to explain content and ramifications fully and accurately.
Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case. Witness, for example, a Washington Post dispatch by correspondents Anne Gearan and William Booth in the May 27 edition, which describes the Arab plan as follows:
"Introduced in 2002 by Saudi Arabia and endorsed again recently by Arab diplomats, the Arab League initiative offers Israel full recognition and normalization with all Arab nations in exchange for Israel withdrawing to its 1967 borders, including pulling out of East Jerusalem, and "just settlement" for Palestinian refugees who wish to return home to live in peace or receive compensation."
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Except that the Post's version is flawed by errors and a hidden "poison pill" that would doom Israel as a Jewish state. ("$4 billion plan outlined for West Bank projects - Kerry sees proposal as step to get Palestinians, Israelis talking again" page A9)
For starters, there were no "borders" between Israel and Jordanian-occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 -- only a 1949 armistice line dating back to the end of hostilities in the 1948-49 Arab Israeli war. Actual "borders" -- whether permanent or even temporary -- still await a political solution.
Second, while Arab leaders offer to sign a peace agreement with Israel and establish normal relations with Israel in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the plan does not offer Israel "full recognition." "Normal relations" is a vaguer formula than formal recognition and subject to varied interpretations.
The real killer in the Arab plan, however, occurs in how it deals with the question of Palestinian refugees. It calls for a "just solution" to the problem of Palestinian refugees "in accordance with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194." Gearan and Booth completely ignore UN Resolution 194, which just so happens to be the cornerstone of Arab/Palestinian insistence on a "right of return" to Israel of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
This may be a "just solution" in the eyes of the Arab League, the Palestinians and Washington Post correspondents, but it's a deadly poison for Israel. Its adoption and implementation would result in a two-state solution alright -- two states, but both Palestinian.
It would help Post readers if Gearan and Booth were to explain the history of Res. 194 to give readers a full sense of its real ramifications. Res. 194 was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December, 1948, when the Arab war to exterminate the nascent Jewish state was still in full swing. Its main purpose was to bring hostilities to an end. Another purpose was to protect and provide free access for all people to holy places. (The latter continues to be regularly ignored by Palestinian vandals.)
The section on refugees and their options to return home or receive compensation never mentions "Palestinian" refugees. There were no Palestinians at the time -- only Arabs whose leaders were adamantly opposed to the UN's call for a two-state solution -- an Arab state side by state with a Jewish state. The Arab stance instead was to deny Israel's right to exist.
No wonder that every Arab country voted AGAINST Res. 194 -- the same resolution now relied upon by Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League for an absolute "right of return" for millions of Palestinians.
For Israel, it's a poison pill, completely overlooked by Gearan and Booth. One wonders why.
Incidentally, Hamas, which rules Gaza, opposes the Arab League plan for its own reasons -- It wants nothing less than an immediate one-state solution without any two-state transition.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers