Friday, December 13, 2013

Elusive MidEast Peace

Kerry's Peace Framework - Jonathan S. Tobin

Secretary of State Kerry is back in Israel and demanding that both the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority accept the security provisions he has envisioned for the aftermath of a peace deal. Even more, reports say he is telling both the Netanyahu government and Mahmoud Abbas' PA regime he expects them both to accept a framework for an accord by the end of January.

A common desire for a deal simply isn't present between Israel and the Palestinians and no amount of U.S. pressure can manufacture it. Kerry's belief that Israel needs peace and would benefit from a two-state solution in which the Palestinians renounce the conflict for all time is largely correct. But unfortunately his assumption that Abbas has made such a decision to give up the conflict is not based in fact.

The PA continues to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. It also won't or can't give up its demand for the "right of return" for the descendants of the 1948 refugees. Both show that while Abbas would accept more territory, he won't pay for it with genuine peace.

Israel desires peace as much as Kerry. It has already taken many risks for the sake of an accord. But Palestinian political culture regards Israel as an illegitimate intrusion into the region. Until a sea change in that culture occurs, it will remain the real obstacle to peace. And no amount of pressure on Israel can change that.

The Neo-Mandate Solution -Barry Rubin, PhD

If the current Obama-Kerry plan for an Israel-Palestinian deal is implemented, scores of Americans would likely die.

The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.

According to the plan, the United States would gradually create and maintain the agreement by policing an independent Palestinian state. Israel would be protected by the U.S. forces, and Palestine would be protected from Israel by them.  [W]hat the wrong-headed people in the Obama Administration do not understand is that they would be under constant challenge.
In other words, if Americans are on the ground, they will be targeted. Now the question is what will they do?
What about a large stream of cross-border attacks? Will Americans attack Palestinians if they violate the agreement?
Are we to believe that American helicopters, airplanes, and ground soldiers would attack when the whole effort of this exercise had been to avoid military commitments?
The United States may suffer a great number of casualties over time. Note the 3,400 deaths of Western coalition soldiers in Afghanistan so far. Are Western forces willing to sacrifice more than 300 soldiers a year?
And of course Americans are going to accidently kill Palestinians, both fighters and unarmed civilians. This then would create a blood-feud.
How long will the American people accept photos of dead Palestinians, much less dead Israelis? And sooner or later, the United States would leave the new state and leave Israel with a mess.
It is no accident that Israel has never been willing to trust its security to a third party. This is a roadmap for increased conflict.
The United States will have two choices:
  1. The U.S. helps Israel, albeit with constant opposition, and alienates the Arab and Iranian and Turkish world.
  2. The United States will gradually get tired of the burden and walk away from it.
[Rubin Reports]
A Real Arab Spring - Norman Lebrecht

Coming out of a movie last month at an Israeli mall, I ran into a conga line of men, women and children shuffling their way into a McDonald's. The men wore T-shirts and jeans, the women flowery headscarves and varied outfits. It was someone's birthday. It took a second look to realize that the celebrants were a family of Israeli Arabs. Today there are 1.6 million Israeli Arabs, some 20% of the population. They enjoy full civic rights and a high level of prosperity.

As I drove through the Arab heartlands in Galilee, I passed a noisy town with three-storey houses and an exclusive European car dealership. On Friday night, there are as many Israeli Arabs strolling along the promenade along the Tel Aviv seafront as there are Israeli Jews. Over the past 25 years, normalization has set in. Learning Hebrew at school, Israeli Arabs have made careers in most parts of the economy and in academic life. One of the most popular comedy series on commercial Israeli television is entitled "Arab Labor." It makes merry with the tensions raised by a middle-class Arab family who move into an urban Israeli apartment block. One of the Arab actors, Mira Awad, has represented Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Economic progress and social participation are positive indicators of how the country and the region might function if and when a peace agreement is reached. The Israeli Arabs serve, in this respect, as role models for a postwar utopia. They also refute hostile cliches such as the perpetual accusation that Israel is somehow an "apartheid state." The apartheid libel denies the blatant reality that Israel is an evolving society with more tolerance for minorities than any of its neighbors. The casual confidence of its Arab citizens is testimony to a healthy society.

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