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May 30, 2016 / 22 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Ross’

“Regretfully Our President is the Neville Chamberlain of Our Day”

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

With more than a week to go before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, two Republican representatives visited Israel last week to demonstrate their support of the Jewish state. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) spent time in Israel visiting with the IDF, meeting local Arab and Israeli politicians as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu in a trip sponsored by Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) and Yes! Israel Missions.

“We are here to pay tribute to this great country,” said Pittenger, who noted it was his third time meeting the Israeli prime minister in 18 months in an interview with Tazpit News Agency. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a remarkable man; one of the great leaders of our day,” he told Tazpit News Agency.

The Israeli prime minister is set to speak before Congress on March 3 to address the dangers of easing economic sanctions against Iran by the international community under the terms of an emerging deal between the West and the Islamic Republic.

“Regretfully our president is the Neville Chamberlain of our day – he doesn’t know how to handle evil,” commented Pittenger, who said that Netanyahu and Obama represented two different world views. “Netanyahu is Winston Churchill – and the American public deserves to hear his point of view as the prime minister of the country that sits in the heart of it all,” the North Carolina congressman said.

“Our greatest ally – Israel, seems to have been cast out to sea with the Iran issue,” said Rep. Dennis Ross to Tazpit. “It’s unfortunate that President Obama is casting a blind eye to the Israeli-American relationship. There are real life consequences to allowing Iran nuclear arms and the nuclear threat will be one that will impact our everyday lives.”

Ross told Tazpit that his visit to Israel only strengthened his convictions regarding his support of the country and seeing life first-hand. “I visited a tank battalion on the Golan Heights and it was admirable to see young Israeli boys protecting the country – some of them only 19-years-old,” said the Florida congressman, who also serves as the senior deputy majority whip in the House of Representatives.

The U.S. Representatives visited sensitive military sites and biblical heritage sites and also toured Judea and Samaria, Hebron, and Jerusalem, while learning about counter-terrorism, territorial issues, security complexities and the historical background of the region. The Yesha Council, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Temple Institute, Ariel University, Keep Jerusalem, Republicans Abroad Israel and others took part in the program itinerary.

The Congressmen also took time out of their week-long visit to hold a town hall meeting with the public at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel on Thursday, February 19th.

Speaking to American-Israelis at the town hall and answering their questions, the Congressmen emphasized that the world could not allow Iran to access nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

“By March 24, I hope we will have a resolution that says nuclear capabilities will not succeed in Iran,” said Ross, referring to the bi-partisan Kirk-Menendez bill, known as the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, which will impose new sanctions on Iran if international negotiators fail to reach a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program by June 30. The U.S., China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany are aiming to reach a political understanding with Iran by the end of March.

Obama has said that he would veto the bill and in a press conference last month promised that “Nobody around the world least of all the Iranians doubt my ability to get additional sanctions if these negotiations fail.”

Meanwhile, Arab governments are privately expressing their concern to Washington about a potential deal according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. “At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” said an Arab official quoted in the report. The U.S. has now said that it is no longer realistic to eliminate Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in a final deal, despite the Obama administration’s initial stance that it would completely dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. Sunni states, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have said that such an agreement would only strengthen their rival Shiite-run Iran.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Indyk, Ross Suggest US-Israel ‘Nuclear Guarantee’ Over Iran

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Former US envoy the Middle East Martin Indyk and US diplomat Dennis Ross proposed a “nuclear guarantee for Israel” on Tuesday at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.

Apparently it has not occurred to either former diplomat that one cannot “guarantee” the behavior of a rogue Islamic Republic.

Indyk suggested a joint Israel-U.S. Nuclear defense agreement that he called a “treaty arrangement” to address Israel’s concern that Iran is about to cross a nuclear threshold.

 The plan he suggested was similar to that proposed in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton at Camp David.

Intended as a way to ensure Israel’s safety if Iran puts the Jewish State in the cross hairs, Indyk said, “It was approved then, and the U.S. president said if there is a deal, we’ll do this.”

Ross, who serves as counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, added that spot inspections of Iranian facilities must be implemented along with stricter protocols.

“You have to ensure that you can verify that a program that has a thousand or two centrifuges is dramatically less than what is required if you have tens of thousands and you’d have to come up with an approach that allows you a high level of confidence that you can cover that,” he said. “There should be use of force worked out with the Hill that says, ‘if we catch them in the following kind of violation, the implication is we will take out those facilities.’

 “That would deter the Iranians, that would go a long way toward addressing one of the basic Israeli concerns,” Ross said.

 Retired Israeli Brig.-Gen. Yosef Kuperwasser injected a breath of reality into the discussion, however: he said flatly that Israel is clear that Iran cannot be trusted on compliance. Period.

“They would not believe [the U.S.] really mean business and it would mean that they would continue to move forward – cautiously, but continuously,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro did what he could to pour oil on the troubled waters between his country’s administration and Israel over the Iranian nuclear threat. “The United States is determined to prevent [a nuclear Iran] and we will prevent it,” Shapiro vowed. “Our cooperation and consultations with Israel on this shared goal will continue, even at moments when we may disagree with one or another aspect of the approach.”

Hana Levi Julian

Report: Abbas’ Lack of Support Ditched Back-Channel Peace Process Talks

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ lack of support for back-channel takes between the Israeli and PA negotiators ditched the progress they were making towards an agreement, according to the New Republic.

The existence of secret talks after the collapse of published discussions has been reported several times. Abbas declared last year that there were no such talks.

The secret talks began in 2010 between Yitzchak Molcho, an attorney and confidante of Netanyahu, and a confidante of Abbas whom the magazine said it did not name for fear for his safety. The talks also were shepherded by Dennis Ross, then-special foreign policy adviser to President Obama.

The secret plan reportedly agreed on borders for a new Palestinian state and recognized Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people while clarifying that it would not harm the rights of Arab citizens of Israel. The secret negotiators also discussed the so-called Palestinian refugee issue and reached creative wording acceptable to both sides, but they could not reach an understanding on Jerusalem.

“Perhaps what the Israelis considered a serious back channel, the Palestinians — including their man in the room — saw as merely an unofficial exchange of ideas,” the New Republic article said. “Only two people can really solve the mystery, Yitzhak Molcho and his negotiating counterpart. Both of them refused to comment.”

Why didn’t Abbas back the talks?

No one knows, but it is not difficult to come up with one answer – Abbas prefers to stay alive.

The Arab world might be able to forgive him on conceding that there is not enthusiastic support from the international community to allow several million Arabs to immigrate to Israel from foreign countries, based on the United Nations’’ uniquely warped definition of Arab refugees who, unlike others, retain that status from generation to generation.

But that does mean that Arab leaders would be willing to admit failure and agree to call Israel a “Jewish State, thereby dooming any possibility in the future for flooding Israel with millions of Muslims.

If the negotiators were to each an agreement on final borders and refugees, than international pressure might shift on Abbas to compromise, both on the Jewish State designation and on the Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem from the very beginning of the “Peace Process” was destined to be the final nail in the diplomatic coffin.

Any compromise by Abbas would suicide.

JTA contributed to this report.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Israel, Gulf States Share Concerns on Iran Nuclear Intentions

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Israel and the Gulf States may not agree about issues regarding the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and how to deal with Arab terrorism — but everyone in the region worries about how to stop Iran from creating a nuclear weapon.

Iran has declined to respond to questions from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear program’s “possible military dimensions.” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano warned on Friday, “We cannot provide assurance that all [nuclear] material [in Iran] is for peaceful purposes… What’s needed now is action,” he added.

Israeli Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz responded with deep concern to the IAEA statement.

“Iran’s refusal to disclose its nuclear past casts a heavy shadow over the future,” Steinitz said bluntly. “Amano’s grave words indicate, in fact, Iran’s first violation of the interim nuclear agreement [of last November.] Signing a final agreement under these conditions would be a reckless act that world powers must avoid.

The prospect of achieving any concrete progress towards that goal by the November 24 deadline for a diplomatic deal is dim at best in any case.

“Failure to conclude a solid agreement that prevents nuclear proliferation could have serious consequences, not only in our region, but far beyond,” commented Answar Gargash, United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs over the weekend. “We must consider it crucial that any future agreement with Iran on the nuclear file be air-tight.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said the same for years, noted Defense News, quoting his oft-repeated warning, “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

Emily Landau, senior research fellow and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv is equally direct.

On October 29, Landau told Defense News, “Now is the time to apply massive pressure. I hope at some point the international community will wake up to the fact that Iran has absolutely no interest in getting a good deal.”

U.S. officials don’t seem to be getting the message, however.

Even when a former American diplomat who has dealt with Iran in the past is the one delivering the news.

Dennis Ross led State Department talks with Iran under former President George H.W. Bush. He has urged the West to resist giving in to Iranian pressure for concessions in order to ensure that some deal is closed.

“It’s no accident that hardly anyone involved inthe Iranian nuclear negotiations has expressed optimism about meeting the November 24 deadline,” Ross wrote in an analysis for the Oct. 16 edition of Foreign Affairs. He listed numerous concessions already won by Iran in talks with the West, simply by holding out and continuing with negotiations, despite numerous ongoing violations.

Whether the Obama administration will hold firm and put the brakes on the current bleed taking place on the sanctions formerly imposed on Iran is anyone’s guess. But unless international powers reassert their authority and put the economic bite back into the sanctions that were already approved by the United Nations and their individual governments, it will soon be too late to do very much at all.

Hana Levi Julian

The Big Gorilla at the Presidential Conference

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The Big Gorilla that is not hiding in any room here at the Presidential Conference is Iran. Most of the main speakers have come to tell Israel what it should, or should not, do about Iran. Dennis Ross seems to believe that it is acceptable to give Iran nuclear capabilities so long as we can ensure that it will only use the nuclear power for civilian uses. Sure, that’s going to work for how long, I want to ask him?

And when they do convert it to military power…how long will it take the world to do something. No, I don’t mean how long will it take for them to protest it, I mean how long will it take to get the world to do something! Do something.

Dennis Ross says that there is simply no way that a military strike against Iran will be successful…and again, I want to ask him how he knows…and even if he does know…do we have another option?

It is, quite simply, ridiculous. The Jordanian and Egyptian journalists offer suggestions – Israel should do the right thing, though how they define the right thing would certainly not be as we would. The Turkish diplomat (yes, I’ll go at some point and post their names) wants Israel to know that it isn’t too late and we certainly can repair the relationship with Turkey. All we have to do is apologize.

After all, he says, Turkish civilians were hurt and killed. Civilians? Hardly…Apologize? Um….no.

The most realistic and helpful comments on Iran came today from Gabi Ashkenazi. He says that the military option is and should be the last option and yet it must remain on the table because if other options are to succeed, the only way it can succeed is if the threat of military action remains.

In fact, Ashkenazi explains, the more the threat of military intervention is on the table, is considered real, the more likely all non-military responses can work. It’s such a logical and simple reality – one that so many of those who have come here for a few days to preach to us want to ignore.

The big gorilla at this conference is Iran – I doubt that those who came here to give advice are managing to notice that we here in Israel do actually understand what is happening with Iran, understand very well, as Dennis Ross felt he had to tell us, that we have to be concerned not only with the strike itself, but the day after the strike.

My advice to the many guests here at the conference – trust us. Really, trust us. We are very aware. We live here, here in the reality that is the Middle East.

Paula R. Stern

Former Mossad Chief: Arab Spring ‘Incredible Opportunity

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, speaking at the 2012 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, expressed cautious optimism about the potential outcomes of the Arab Spring, saying that “we are in a very unique position that has never been seen before.”

Dagan was part of a panel discussing the Arab Spring, steps that regional actors could take to help ensure a peaceful transition to democracy, and the impact of these revolutions on Israel. The panel also featured, among others, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and former senior Presidential adviser Dennis Ross.

Dagan, who has maintained a high profile since his tenure as Mossad chief ended, said that “the radicals in the Arab League are no longer there and a range of mutual interests that require regional cooperation provide an incredible opportunity for fostering peaceful relations.” Still, he acknowledged that the Arab Spring is far from over: “I am worried about Islamist parties with a radical agenda that will take power. It will present a big problem for us.”

Referring to the recent Presidential election in Egypt and claims that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Morsi is slated for victory, he said that “in Egypt it was never important which way the votes go but who counts them.”

Former IDF chief Ashkenazi also weighed in on the monumental changes taking place in the Arab world, saying that “the storm sweeping the Arab world is of tectonic proportions. It happens once every 100 years and cannot be overestimated. This is not just a coup. I don’t know anyone in the defense establishment that predicted what happened there.” He said it was critical that Israel preserve open lines of communication with the Egyptian army: “It is practically the only channel…with Turkey as well.”

Discussing the importance of Israel maintaining its relative military superiority, Ashkenazi offered his solution to the controversial issue of national/military service for all Israeli citizens: “It has long been my belief that not everyone must be drafted. We should go by a principle of service for all, not enlistment for all.

“The IDF should get first pick,” he continued. “Whoever is not selected by the IDF will go to the Fire Services, Magen David Adom or other services…As for the haredim, it’s very important they join the army and then enter the work force. The Torah greats will decide who goes to yeshivot and the rest will join the army.”

Dennis Ross, talking about the role that the U.S. should play in the Arab Spring, said “we in the West are not the authors of this story, so we won’t be the ones to write it. But if we are asked for help, we should offer it, with ground rules – respect religion, minorities and free speech – if they don’t follow these rules they shouldn’t be entitled to help.”

The Presidential Conference will wrap up tomorrow, after hearing from the likes of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Rabbi Michael Melchior, and journalist Caroline Glick.

Jewish Press Staff

A Non-Nuanced Middle East Peace Plan

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

In the October 7, 2004 issue of The New York Review of Books, Rob Malley, who was part of the U.S. team at Camp David, reviewed Dennis Ross’s book on the peace process (The Missing Peace) and came to a conclusion very different from Ross. For reasons that will not be evident at first, it is a conclusion worth studying.

In his book, Ross blamed the collapse of the Oslo peace process on Yasir Arafat, as well as the failure of the U.S. to insist, as part of the process, that Arafat prepare his people for peace.

Malley asserts that Ross has a ‘one-dimensional take’ on Arafat that lacks ‘nuance.’ Malley prefers the ‘nuanced analyses’ of Martin Indyk and Aaron Miller, which blame the collapse on ‘numerous factors.’

Malley argues there was a ‘defect at Oslo’s core’ – reliance on a step-by-step process that did not define at the outset ‘the shape of a permanent peace.’ He proposes a 180-degree turn:

[T]he process ought to be turned on its head, with the U.S. seeking to describe the endgame at the outset and with the parties agreeing on the means of getting there afterward…

I believe the U.S. ought to push the parties toward ending their conflict, rather than wait until they are somehow ready to do so…[The U.S. should] spell out the components of an acceptable deal, rather than press for incremental steps.

Just spell it out. Push the parties to accept it, whether they̓re ready or not. Forget about incremental steps. Boy, how nuanced can you get?

This non-nuanced desire for an imposed Middle East peace, arising from a supposedly more nuanced analysis, is worth analyzing. It is the result of two interrelated factors that, once understood, shed light on a better path to peace.

The first factor is simple frustration – which often occurs when the world does not respond to one’s reasonable expectations of it. Given the seemingly obvious peace solution – two states for two peoples – and the apparent inability of the parties to consummate an agreement themselves, frustrated participants in the ‘process’ conclude we should simply apply enough pressure to get the parties to reach the right result.

But, in the real world, ‘pushing the parties’ inevitably turns into pushing only one of them – Israel – because the United States has virtually no leverage over the Palestinians. And once the United States ‘spells out’ the deal, and ‘pushes’ Israel to accept it (no more ‘incremental steps’), what if Arafat (or his designee) simply refuses to accept it, on grounds it is not good enough?

Perhaps Arafat could be given an ultimatum – but even Malley recognizes that Arafat ‘sees in every ultimatum a last demand before the next concession.’

Arafat can hardly be blamed for that view. How could anyone have a different one, looking at the extraordinary concessions made by Ehud Barak at Camp David (a state in all of Gaza and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, with a capital in Jerusalem, in exchange for ‘peace’), which were followed by a Palestinian walkout and a new war, which then led to the Clinton Parameters of December 23, 2000 (with new concessons for the Palestinians), which were conveyed to Arafat as his last chance and then personally rejected by Arafat, in the Oval Office, in his January 2, 2001 meeting with Clinton – which was then followed by Israel’s willingness, just three weeks later, to send a team to Taba, Egypt for still another round of negotiations, in the midst of Arafat’s war, with still more Israeli concessions.

Arafat’s refusals led, each time, to new movements in his direction.

How would Arafat (or anyone else) know which ultimatum would be the last ultimatum, which ‘last offer’ the last offer? Each offer was an interim position before the next interim position. Not only was there no penalty for rejection, there was a reward – new negotiations with improved offers.

The other factor behind the desire for the U.S. to step in, spell out, and push over the parties is the mistaken belief they were in fact close to an agreement at Taba – one that could be consummated with sufficient pressure from an ‘involved’ U.S. president, with a ‘full-time’ Middle East envoy, and a spelled-out ‘final proposal.’

No one has taken this position more often than John Kerry during his presidential campaign. If there is one foreign policy moment seared in his memory, it is how close to peace the Israelis and Palestinians allegedly came in January 2001 at Taba:

1. In his presentation to the Council on Foreign Relations on December 3, 2003, Kerry said it was “astonishing” we were not “picking up somewhere near where we left off at Taba, where most of the difficult issues were resolved, in many ways.”

2. On January 3, 2004 in Iowa, Kerry said it was “clear to those who thought hard about it, that what happened in Taba, which is where they negotiated in the last months of the Clinton administration, is a close framework of what some kind of vision of peace is gonna look like.”

3. On April 23, 2004, in remarks to the Joint Conference of the Newspaper Association of America and American Society of Newspaper Editors, Kerry said if “you go back to Taba, President Clinton in fact arrived at an agreement on right of return as well as the annexation of a number of settlements.”

None of that happened. Indeed, it would not seem possible to pack more errors into a single sentence than Kerry did in his repeated descriptions of Taba.

There is a great deal of public information regarding what happened at Taba: an extensive summary of the outcome of the Taba negotiations prepared by Ambassador Miguel Moratinos, the EU representative to the Taba talks; the lengthy post-Taba interview in Haaretz with Shlomo Ben-Ami (the Israeli foreign minister who headed the Taba delegation); David Makovsky’s long article in the Spring 2003 issue of The National Interest; the treatment of Taba by Dennis Ross in The Missing Peace, and the account of Oslo architect Yossi Beilin in his recent book, The Path to Geneva.

Based on what we know from these sources, we can say this about Kerry’s description of Taba: it is demonstrably wrong. In fact, he scored a trifecta of erroneous assertions:

1. Clinton was neither at, nor involved in, Taba. Far from arriving at an agreement at Taba, neither Clinton nor anyone else from his administration was even there. Taba occurred after Clinton left office – and nearly a month after Arafat had definitively rejected the Clinton Parameters for peace (a rejection described in excruciating detail in Ross’s book).

Taba commenced on January 21, 2001 – the day after the Clinton Administration ended, and that timing was not coincidental.

In his report on Taba, David Makovsky noted the Palestinians wanted Taba to begin after Clinton left office, because they thought they ‘were about to reap a political windfall.’ Clinton was gone, replaced by the son of a prior president who had been notably unsympathetic to Israel. American Jews had just given 80 percent of their votes to the losing candidate, and their party was now out of power. Moeover, the new president had well-publicized connections to the oil and gas industry.

The Palestinians expected they would be dealing with a much more sympathetic U.S. administration. They anticipated the next ‘last offer’ would be even better than the ones before.

2. No agreement on ‘right of return’ was reached at Taba. The parties did not resolve the ‘right of return’ at Taba. On the contrary, it is clear from the detailed summary of the Taba negotiations by the EU ambassador that, while informal discussions were held, the Palestinians effectively demanded a formal recognition by Israel of the ‘right’ of return before any ‘limitations’ on that right could be negotiated.

But if a ‘right of return’ were recognized – with no assurance that any limitations could then be successfully negotiated, or (if negotiated) accepted by the Palestinian public, or (if accepted), respected by later generations (who might later question whether the ‘limitations’ on the ‘right’ were just) – Israel would have conceded a principle that went to the heart of its legitimacy as a state. Even Barak’s negotiators balked at that, and no formal negotiation on this issue occurred at Taba – much less an agreement.

In his book, Yossi Beilin, who headed the Israeli subgroup that discussed refugees and the ‘right of return,’ asserts the parties ‘almost’ agreed on ‘principles’ for resolving the problem (leaving important aspects for later resolution). But Beilin could not persuade Abu Ala (currently the Palestinian prime minister) to publicly acknowledge the ‘progress.’

3. No agreement on annexation of settlements was reached at Taba. Barak had announced that any deal at Taba had to leave 80 percent of the settlers in settlement blocs within new borders. Not only was this condition not met, but the parties could not even agree on what Clinton had previously proposed.

The EU ambassador’s summary of the outcome of the negotiations described the standoff as follows: “The Israeli side stated that the Clinton proposals [from December 2000] provide for annexation of settlement blocs. The Palestinian side did not agree that the parameters included blocs, and did not accept [the proposed] annex blocs.”

Taba was not a Clinton negotiation where most of the issues were resolved. It was a last-gasp attempt – conducted under fire, in the midst of a war commenced by Arafat after he rejected a proffered state – to reach a ‘peace agreement’ before the Israeli election scheduled for February 2001, which Ariel Sharon was predicted to win absent a last-minute peace.

If elected president, would Kerry – as someone who has ‘thought hard about’ Taba, who is ‘astonished’ we are not picking up where we left off there, who thinks an agreement was reached there on most of the difficult issues (including the right of return and the settlements), who believes Taba is a ‘close framework’ of what peace will look like, and who formally proposed at the Council on Foreign Relations appointing Jimmy Carter ‘in the first days’ of a Kerry Administration as a full-time envoy to reach that result – forgo the road map (with its insistence on steps) and urge Israel to negotiate indirectly with Arafat (through his prime minister) on the basis of Taba?

There are several reasons to think so. At the June NATO summit, French President Jacques Chirac reportedly said that Arafat was “probably the only person who could impose compromise on the Palestinian people.” Bill Clinton reportedly told the Guardian on June 20, 2004 that America and Israel might have no choice but to work with Arafat if they want Middle East peace. On August 11, 2004, the Council on Foreign Relations interviewed Khalil Shikaki, a prominent Palestinian political expert, who opined that if Kerry won the election, “the problem of Bush and his obsession with Arafat will change.” On August 16, 2004, Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi reported that, according to unnamed diplomatic officials, the Quartet is thinking of reintroducing Arafat ino the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations after the U.S. election.

Given the above, and given advice from people like Rob Malley and Martin Indyk that blaming Arafat alone for the Oslo failures was not a ‘nuanced’ approach, and given suggestions that a spelled-out proposal with sufficient U.S. pressure could lead to peace (but only by dealing directly or indirectly with the one person who could bind the Palestinians), what would you – if you were John Kerry – do?

We should have learned from the past that the problem in the Middle East is not the absence of proposals. Nor is it the absence of presidential involvement (no one could have been more involved than Clinton), nor of high-level envoys (we have already had George Mitchell, George Tenet and others). The problem is that peace is not created by an ?agreement,? but rather by parties that want to live in peace.

Saul Singer has succinctly described the problem with an ‘agreement’ as the solution to Middle East peace:

[R]eal peace between Israel and the Arab world…will depend on the transformation of the Arab world rather than on agreements with it in its current dictatorial state …

The problem with the Geneva Accord, like Oslo and the other agreements that came before it, is that they signal that agreements can lead to peace and transformation is not necessary.

Each time this happens, transformation is undermined, real peace is delayed and more war is invited.

This is why the real road to peace is the approach George W. Bush laid out last month in his speech to the United Nations – an approach that reflects the above insight of Saul Singer. At the UN, Bush said that:

[C]ommitment to democratic reform is essential to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption, and maintain ties to terrorist groups….Those who would lead a new Palestinian state should…create the reformed institutions of a stable democracy.

The insistence on a practicing democracy and its reformed institutions as a condition of a Palestinian state, first articulated by George W. Bush in his landmark June 24, 2002 speech, may not be a nuanced analysis, but it is a profound one.

It will take a little longer than simply spelling out a deal and pushing it on Israel. But it need not take as long as the unsuccessful seven-year Oslo process did. And it has the benefit that, at the end, there will be peace – not just a ‘peace agreement’ with a new, unreformed terrorist state.

Rick Richman edits ‘Jewish Current Issues’ at http://jpundit.typepad.com. He is the author of ‘Kerry, Carter and Israel,’ a front-page essay that appeared in the May 5, 2004 issue of The Jewish Press.

Rick Richman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/a-non-nuanced-middle-east-peace-plan/2004/11/10/

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