Thursday, July 31, 2008

Big battle looming between Obama and Netanyahu, if both elected.

Ted Belman

Let’s face it, there is going to be a Declaration of Principles agreed to, if not this year, early next year.

The INSS article Olmert’s Legacy in the Occupied Territories: Strengthening the Settlement Blocs, lays it out.

1. Olmert, with tacit acceptance by the US and the EU, is expanding settlement blocks west of the fence.
2. The D of P will agree that the fence will become the border with minor exceptions.
3. Thereafter Israel will pass a law offering compensation to settlers east of the fence to move the settlement blocks.
4 Building in these blocks will accelerate with or without the explicit approval of Abbas but with the approval of the US.
5. The rest of the settlement population would be evacuated once the agreement is implemented and the Palestinian state is established.
6. The IDF will remain in Judea and Samaria until the state is declared.
7. Jerusalem will be divided. (See today’s post and A story of Neglect by Moshe Arens)
8. Loose ends will include how much land Israel gives them and the nature of the link to Gaza. Nothing in this deal assures peace. What it offers is an internationally recognized border and Israel’s retreat to the west of it. Israel gets to build anywhere within it. The IDF will remain in Judea and Samaria with the blessing of the US.

Haaretz reports that Rice presses Israel, PA to agree on document ahead of UN meet

The document would include agreed-on points particularly on borders, an issue where, according to an American diplomat, the gap is not significant. According to Palestinian sources, the gap regarding a right of return for Palestinian refugees has also narrowed.

The United States is pressing for an agreement by which Palestinian refugees will have the right of return to what were the Palestinian territories before 1967, except for a yet-unclear small number of family reunifications. The PA says the U.S. will not take a dramatic step of a “Camp David” nature before the end of President George W. Bush’s term in office.

The highlighted sentence doesn’t seem correct. I thinks it should read “No right of return except”. We must watch this carefully.

The official said gaps remain on most issues and confirmed that the parties are closest on borders. The debate now is over the percentage of land Israel will annex and the kind of compensation the PA will get in exchange. Olmert has told associates that the gap stands at a mere 2 to 3 percent.

The question of refugees is still open and the matter of Jerusalem has not even come up for discussion yet.

Livni and Qureia agree that talks should reach a point where they can survive changes of government on all sides, including in the United States.

The real reason Livni doesn’t want the deal made public at that time is because she fears that if the Israeli public learns what she has agreed to, there is no way she will become Prime Minister according to JPOST

Kadima officials speculated that the reason Livni was so adamant in blocking the drafting of such a document was that she was afraid that if the concessions she has already agreed to were revealed before the mid-September Kadima race, she could lose support to her chief rival, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Olmert, Livni and Ramon are prepared to divide Jerusalem and cede the Golan.

Obama is on record of pressing Israel to make a deal that would allow a Palestinian state to come into being and reaffirmed this on Meet the Press.

On the other hand, Netanyahu is on record of rejecting Annapolis and its variation of the Roadmap. He is also on record of being against the division of Jerusalem and the ceding of the Golan to Syria. This is supported by about 75% of Israelis.

I spoke with two Likud insiders today and they gave me their opinion rather than Bibi’s opinion. They advised that Likud will not campaign on a platform of killing the peace process but would seek peace based on Res 242 which is silent on Jerusalem, asks only for a just settlement of the refugee issue and allows for secure borders. This has always been understood as defensible borders.

Everyone understands that such a position means war and they are prepared for it. After the war, Israel would talk about other solutions.

In order to garner the most mandates, Netanyahu will have to talk peace but on his terms.He can’t come right out and reject peace negotiations.

Many will remind me of Wye and say Bibi is not to be trusted. I will say, that was then, this is now. What choice do we have.

Such a position is in accord with Bush’s letter to Sharon pre-Disengagement

I remain committed to my June 24, 2002 vision of two states living side by side in peace and security as the key to peace, and to the road map as the route to get there.

No mention of the Saudi plan or Annapolis.

First, the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the road map. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan. Under the road map, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel.

Annapolis was in conflict with this and I believe Bibi is on record of opposing Annapolis.

The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.

Third, Israel will retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organizations. The United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt, and others in the international community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations, and prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means.

The United States understands that after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue.

But that’s not all.

The United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.

Thus Bibi has every right to insist on the US honouring this letter of commitment and insisting on 242 as the formulation for talks.. And this he will do.

Bibi and Obama if they are elected will just have to duke it out before Congress and I say Bibi will win.

Jerusalem is the make or break issue. If Netanyahu goes to the wire on this, Congress will support him. But there should be no evacuation of Jews before hand as Olmert and Livni intend.

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