What to expect in the peace process

Israel has made a switch from concessions-based diplomacy (it's about time) to security-based diplomacy. So I was informed when I attended a panel discussion in Jerusalem which was organized by Hadar-Israel.

The panelists included Maj-Gen (ret) Amidror, Maj. Gen. (res) Uzi Dayan and Ambassador Dore Gold. It was chaired by Dan Diker, and was a great evening. These people are at the top of their game and know what they are talking about.

Amidror focused on rejecting an international force as our security blanket, arguing that the last thing Israel needs is for American soldiers to go home in coffins. Besides, only the IDF will fight the terrorists in defense of Israel. History teaches us this.

In this context he dropped a bomb. He made it absolutely clear that Israel was not asking the US to bomb Iran. How did he know? "We're making plans to do it ourselves." No way did he want Israel to seen as in need of US protection.

Dayan dealt with our need for defensible borders, which Israel has just started putting forward. Israel will never agree to borders before all the other things are agreed upon. He pointed out that Rabin's policies just prior to his assassination are now Likud's policies, including an undivided Jerusalem belonging to Israel, no retreat from the Golan, no right of return and defensible borders. Our security needs require Israel to be on the Jordan and be in control of the airspace.

Dore Gold gave an overview. Many countries are now recognizing Palestine. He said that there is a possibility that the US will get both sides to state their positions and that the US would then table bridging proposals. Something appears to be in the air. With this in mind, he said Erekat wrote an article for the Guardian, which was quite unprecedented, in which he took a very hard line on the right of return. Abbas recently took a hard line on the new Palestinian state being Judenrein and on '67 borders.

Gold argued that they were setting down markers in anticipation of the US position and Israel must do the same. It will no longer suffice for Israel to avoid stating its demands preferring to embrace platitudes of peace. It will now go hardline and demand what Rabin demanded.

Gold raised the issue of whether we can expect the US to veto any untoward Security Council resolution. In this context, he informed the audience that in 1975 the US came to an understanding with Israel which she put into writing, that the US would not allow a substitute for Resolution 242 in peace negotiations. I wasn't aware of that but I was aware that the US inserted the Saudi Plan in the Roadmap in 2003 in contravention of this pledge. One year later, in the Bush to Sharon letter on the eve of Disengagement, Bush ignored the Saudi Plan and referred only to Resolution 242 as the basis of settlement. This resolution also mandated a negotiated settlement. It remains to be seen whether the US will honor its commitment.

Finally, Gold reiterated the need for an undivided Jerusalem, saying it was impossible to divide it because all the Jewish and Arab areas in the eastern part of Jerusalem were intermingled. He said that in 2006 there were just under 200,000 Jews living in this area and now there are many more. He also reminded that audience that the Jewish population in Jerusalem was shrinking.  Jews were leaving the city. The reasons given by them were, no housing and no jobs. Accordingly, he strongly argued for much more building, particularly of low cost housing, and for a national program to invigorate job prospects. He considered this a national priority.

Retaining Jerusalem was a strategic necessity. You can't cut out your heart and survive. Zionism was about the return to Zion. Enough said.

Obviously, going hardline will not lead to peace but the end of the peace process. The parties, he said, were now playing the blame game for when this becomes apparent.
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