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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister Sharon’

More Pressure On The Horizon

Friday, July 20th, 2001

Despite the terrible news late Monday of the driveby murders of Dan Yehudah of Chomesh and Doron Zisserman of Einav and other terrorist acts, there is the definite sense that there is an overall lessening of Palestinian violence. While we do not delude ourselves into thinking that the so-called cease fire is essentially anything other than Arafat?s latest ruse, one would have to be inhuman not to take some comfort in the fact that at least for the short run, less people will die or be maimed. And, because we think that a cease fire is in Arafat?s short term interest, we believe that one will take hold. Yet at the same time, while we savor the respite of sorts, we must also focus on the dangers that are already emerging.

In sending CIA Director George Tenet to the Middle East rather than someone from the State Department to try to arrange the cease fire, President Bush seemed to be acting in accord with Prime Minister Sharon?s insistence that the issue of a cease fire must be considered separate and apart from any substantive issues between Israel and the Palestinians. That is, as a security expert, Tenet?s mission was surely not anything other than to try and get the shooting to stop. And Secretary of State Colin Powell is repeatedly quoted as saying that there must be a period of quietude before the resumption of substantive negotiations, a probable allusion to the Prime Minister?s call for a six-week period of total cessation of violence as a precondition to going back to the negotiating table.

But there are disturbing signs as well. Secretary Powell is also talking about using the Mitchell Report as the working paper once negotiations commence. It will be recalled, however, that the Mitchell Report contemplates the suspension of so-called settlement activity and generally equates Israel?s reaction to Palestinian violence with the perpetration itself. Taken together, this means that the Mitchell Report reflects the notion that there is legitimacy to Palestinian ?resistance? and that Judea and Samaria really are presumptively ?occupied territory.?

To our mind, this and other conclusions in the Report represent a repackaging of the Clinton approach of a proposed outcome that is not the product of negotiations, but of superimposition from the outside. Arafat?s ability to end-run direct negotiations by appealing to third parties seems about to get a second life.

Moreover, although Prime Minister Sharon is properly requiring a six week period of quiet before beginning to negotiate in order to ensure that there is no hint of rewarding violence, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has joined UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Arafat himself in calling for substantive talks to commence immediately!

The pressure on Prime Minister Sharon to cave-in on the question of when to resume negotiations can be expected to intensify. We trust he is up to dealing with it. The last thing Israel needs now is for Arafat to think once again that violence works.

Watch For It

Wednesday, July 4th, 2001

As The Jewish Press is about to go to press Tuesday evening, Hamas spokesmen are still declaring that they have no intention of adhering to a cease-fire. Whether Arafat was serious or not when he declared a cease-fire the other day, the bottom line is that none is in the immediate offing. Yet one gets the sense that the Palestinians are indeed inching towards an interruption of hostilities. Not because they have decided on peace, but rather because Arafat ? who plainly controls Palestinian events beyond the immediate short term ? has become convinced that he has run the string out on this phase of violent confrontation. As we have noted several times, when Arafat becomes convinced that he can no longer count on third party pressure on Israel to wring further concessions as a precondition to resuming negotiations, he will do what he has to do to get Israel back to the negotiating table ? it is his goal to renew the process of once again recycling unfulfilled promises in return for tangible Israeli concessions brought about, in turn, by fresh third party pressure on Israel.

Thus, following Prime Minister Sharon?s unilateral declaration of a cease-fire, the worldwide revulsion at the carnage last Friday night, and statements from Secretary of State Powell and other world leaders that the violence must stop unconditionally, Arafat can now be counted upon to drop his demand for an Israeli concession on the settlements as a precondition to stopping the violence.

So all things being equal, it is likely that there will soon be a resumption of negotiations. The violence will have ebbed. With a wink and a nod to Hamas and their ilk, Arafat will will have made some gesture at arresting recently released terrorists. And there will have been some lessening of the incitement. Prime Minister Sharon will have pronounced himself satisfied, and once again talks will be held.

But there is an important additional dimension to all of this that has so far escaped attention. Secretary Powell sent Arafat an unmistakable message this past Sunday when he spoke in unusually positive terms of former President Clinton?s coming this close to brokering a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Arafat can now expect that there will be American pressure on Israel to pick up the resumed negotiations at the point they left off at Camp David ? despite Prime Minister Sharon?s vehement statements to the contrary ? which is what Arafat had in mind all along.

Push is soon going to come to shove and a chastened world ? including President Bush ? will move mountains to avoid going back to the abyss of the last eight months. All to the detriment of Israel.

At that point, it can be expected that the old divisions that wrecked our fractured Jewish community over Oslo will reassert themselves and the current unity occasioned by the Palestinian outrages can be expected to fade.

We pray Mr. Sharon is up to the coming test.

No Time To Blink

Wednesday, June 13th, 2001

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has steadfastly refused to renege on his pledge that Israel will not negotiate in the face of continuing Palestinian violence and terror. We trust that he will refuse to yield on this critical stance despite the growing crescendo – even from Knesset members of his Labor coalition partner – that Israel immediately stop all settlement construction and accept the Egyptian-Jordanian Initiative and the recommendations of the Mitchell Report in return for a Palestinian promise to stop the violence. Nothing could be more of an impediment to peace than rewarding Arafat’s abandonment of the negotiating table for the battlefield with substantive concessions. If the Palestinians stop the violence, Israeli retaliation will automatically stop. Any other mix sends the wrong message for the future. Moreover, critical to any possible resolution is the message that continued violence may well result in the cost to the Palestinians of possible ‘new facts’ on the ground. Just as important as the reality of no appeasement is that Arafat and company be disabused of the notion that they can do anything they want and at some magical moment, everything goes back to square one with no consequence to them.

The effort to break Mr. Sharon’s will seems palpable. As we noted last week on this page, the Mitchell Report railed against Israel’s settlement policies despite the fact that the Oslo Accords are silent on the question of settlement expansions. According to the Report, Israel was violating ‘the spirit’ of the Oslo. We also noted that several weeks ago, Americans for Peace Now mounted a campaign on Capital Hill to persuade members of Congress that the settlements are a principal impediment to peace. Even more recently, APN issued a report that purported to show that Israel’s claim that current settlement construction was driven by the need to accommodate growing families on existing settlements didn’t hold water.

And the following is part of the text of an ad entitled ‘The Peace Coalition’ that appeared the other day bearing the signatures of the likes of Shulamit Aloni, MK Colette Avital, Yossi Beilin, Teddy Kollek, Ron Pundak and MK Yossi Sarid:

We, representatives of the Israeli peace camp, have decided to work together to present an ideological and active alternative to the Sharon government and its policies – policies that endanger the peace and security of Israel.

The following principles will serve as guidelines for our joint activities:

The framework for a final Palestinian-Israeli accord was delineated in the negotiations conducted between the Barak government and the Palestinian Authority. This framework was revealed in the Clinton proposal and was very close to agreement in the course of the Taba talks. The urgent need to end the Israeli occupation in the territories through a resumption of negotiations for a final peace accord is our starting point for an alternative to the policy of the government….

WE DEMAND:

· A freeze on all building in the settlements as a first step towards ending the violence.

· Resumption of negotiations on the basis of the Egyptian-Jordanian Initiative

· Acceptance and implementation of the Mitchell Committee Recommendations….

The Egyptian-Jordanian Initiative as a basis for renewed negotiations:

As we recently noted, Israel’s clearly stated position is that substantive negotiations cannot begin until there is a total and sustained cessation of Palestinian violence. In addition, Prime Minister Sharon is on record that the focus of discussions, when they are resumed, must be on interim achievable agreements rather than a final status pact which he thinks is unachievable at this time. He is also adamant that there be no restriction on the expansion of settlements. And as a procedural matter, he insists that the rule of reciprocity be strictly applied.

On the other hand, the Jordan-Egyptian Egypt proposals essentially incorporate the Palestinian position. They treat the issue of violence as part of a package together with substantive issues and even then speak of both sides taking steps to merely ‘reduce’ the fighting. Other issues on the list are that Israel is to immediately generally abandon its current military and economic policies adopted vis-a-vis the Palestinians since the start of the Intifada; the IDF is to withdraw to positions it held before the outbreak of the Intifada; Israel is to transfer revenues it has held up from the Palestinian Authority; there is to be a total and immediate freeze on settlement activities; the negotiations are to pick up where they left off at Camp David; there is to be a deadline set for the reaching of a final status agreement; and the European Union, UN Security Council, Jordan and Egypt are to supervise implementation of the entire process.

Plainly, the plan is just a rehash of the Palestinian agenda and not a serious basis for discussion.

Embrace the Mitchell Report; As we demonstrated last week, this report is largely a restatement of the Egyptian-Jordanian Initiative. Another non-starter.

The immediate goal of the reconfigured Osloniks is to accomplish a tangible break in Israel?s resolve. Thus, the focus on a unilateral freeze on settlement activity. Prime Minister Sharon was on target this week when he recommended substantially increased allocations to the settlements. Although earmarked to pay for enhanced security measures, his point is made nevertheless.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/no-time-to-blink/2001/06/13/

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