THE SPINE JULY 19, 2010
It is as clear as daylight, and my particular information with all the caveats and special emphases comes from the most respectable pro- Palestinian journalist there is. His name is Tobias Buck and he writes for the Financial Times where every piece published about the Jewish state--whose capital, in case you didn't know, is Tel Aviv--is jaundiced. Jaundiced as in exhibiting distaste and hostility.
Buck has a story in today's FT about the state of the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. They are, as I've been suggesting for months they would be, going nowhere. George Mitchell hasn't even been doing much shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah where the established government and the proto-government are actually located. (Perhaps this is a prophecy of where the functional Palestinian seat of government will be since Jerusalem is--how shall we say?--already quite full of official buildings. I am sure, however, that any Israeli politician would make room for lots of Palestinian flags, especially, let's say, on the temple mount. This is not a joke.)
Anyway, Israel has made it clear again and again that it is if not positively eager it is surely ready for direct and open talks. The P.A. wanted remote negotiations, and George Mitchell obliged it with the hocus pocus of proximity talks. For nearly a hundred years this has been the preferred formula for Arab-Jewish attempts to solve their disputes. Surprise: it did not work this time either.
So what Abbas demands is that Israel accede in advance to returning to the 1949 armistice lines. This is actually what the formal dispute is all about. The Palestinians are returning to the geographical lines that Ehud Barak offered Yassir Arafat. Arafat rejected these.
There is no reason--absolutely no reason--for the Israelis to make that failed formula the basis for a different agreement.
But most important is what Buck calls a security arrangement for the West Bank.
[Abbas] also called on Israel to accept a “security” arrangement discussed between the two sides in the past – a reference to the deployment of international, and not Israeli, forces to guard the borders of a future Palestinian state.
This is crucial. No Israeli state would hand over to some United Nations arm or to some other assemblage of countries the security of its land and people. As we can see from Afghanistan but even less treacherous areas the patrolling of peace is not a chore for foreigners.
And protecting Israelis from rockets, missiles, and other more primitive and advanced weapons is not something I would want to devolve on American troops. Whoever says they want to so deploy U.S. service men and women are dropping them into a hellish trap. And, frankly, I wouldn't for a single moment trust the veterans of any United Nations force for this chore.
If American troops are to be sent to Palestine it'd be better that there be no Palestine or a Palestine joined to Jordan in some half-assed arrangement between Amman and Jerusalem.
Buck makes a point about the involvement of the Arab League in this whole conundrum. The Palestinians say...
they cannot change the status of the talks without the support of the Arab League. Arab governments backed the original launch of proximity talks but are said to be deeply sceptical about direct negotiations. “There is much more opposition against Palestinian engagement in talks now than there was two months ago,” one Palestinian official said on Sunday.
So much for the highly vaunted Arab League and Saudi initiatives, about which Obama has spoken so confidently.
And, of course, about Gaza...nothing.
Maybe there are some world problems that elude solving. They ebb and flow, they rise and recede, life goes on.