Wednesday, January 2, 2008

After the Annapolis Conference: What Really Needs to Happen

The National Interreligious Leadership Initiative For Peace in the Middle East put together what it calls After the Annapolis Conference: What Needs to Happen
Talking Points for Public Advocacy 12/07

As usual, this document completely ignores the core issue: the continued refusal of the Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs, to accept the existence within their midst of the non-Arab, non-Muslim, free and democratic state known as Israel.

This is their document, with some bracketed comments added.

Active U.S. Leadership is Essential for Post-Annapolis Progress Toward Peace

From its founding in 2003, the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative (NILI), representing Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, including heads of twenty-five national organizations, has called for active, fair and firm U.S. leadership for Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace. After the Annapolis conference, NILI believes consistent, determined leadership by Secretary Rice and President Bush is essential for peace negotiations to succeed. NILI urges public support, including support by Congress, for active U.S. leadership to achieve the following.

[The type of "leadership" called for has generally gummed up the works; negotiations have been more successful when the parties have been left alone.

The single most important step towards accommodation, Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, was a surprise to our government, which was not too happy about it. The treaty between Egypt and Israel would probably have been negotiated much more quickly and led to a less cold peace had Jimmy Carter kept his hands off.

Oslo also started in secret, without our involvement, and might have been a success rather than a disaster had we not gotten involved.]

Urgently Needed Reciprocal Steps by Israel and the Palestinian Authority

Consistent with the Road Map, the U.S. and Quartet should press for reciprocal, simultaneous steps by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to improve conditions on the ground and help restore hope that a peace agreement is possible. Steps should include achieving a comprehensive ceasefire in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza; the Palestinian Authority developing effective coordinated security and increased capacity for governance, blocking illegal arms shipments and disarming militias; and Israel freezing expansion of settlements, withdrawing "illegal outposts," releasing Palestinian prisoners, and easing movement for Palestinians by reducing the number of military check points. Effective public monitoring of international aid and of implementation of these reciprocal steps is essential.

[The steps listed here involve an artificial balance.

The Palestinian Authority is committed under agreements it signed long ago to stop its involvement in terror. Only if the PA adheres to those prior commitments will the security measures forced upon Israel become unnecessary, at which point there will be no need to pressure Israel into easing them.

The other concessions NILI is calling for Israel to make are both immoral and counterproductive.]

Agreement on Principles for Resolving Final Status Issues

On the matter of agreement on principles to guide negotiations to resolve final status issues, including borders, security, settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem, NILI advocates public U.S. support for the benchmark ideas developed by Israelis and Palestinians in official and unofficial negotiations over many years, and reflected in public documents such as the People's Voice initiative and the Geneva Accord Public opinion polls consistently report majority support among Israelis and Palestinians for a peace agreement along these lines.

(For a Summary of the Geneva Accord go to:

[The Arabs and Israelis must decide these issues themselves. All those documents sidestep the real issue, the refusal of the Arabs to accept the existence of Israel. Polls show that a significant minority or even majority, depending on the poll, of Palestinian Arabs would refuse to accept the existence of Israel even if all their demands were met. Emphasis: Even if ALL their demands were met! Those polls do not even bother to ask about whether they'd accept a reasonable compromise!

A United Palestinian Government for Peace

NILI is concerned that the split in Palestinian governance between the West Bank and Gaza is incompatible with a durable peace agreement.

[It certainly is, which makes Annapolis and the document from NILI travesties.]

Acknowledging the sensitivity of this issue for the Administration and for their communities, NILI advocates U.S. support for efforts, probably by others, to help form a new unified Palestinian government capable of representing the West Bank and Gaza, and committed to rejecting violence and negotiating a two-state solution with Israel.

[That will be a difficult task, especially since the Palestinian Arabs democratically voted into power a government opposed to peace regardless of the terms.

It also ignores the reality that the Arabs in Gaza are really a separate group from the Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

However, if progress is to be made towards a two-state solution rather than the more realistic three-state solution, this is an essential first step.]

Progress Toward Comprehensive Arab-Israeli Peace

Appreciating the positive importance of the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative

[The Saudis who refused to even shake hands with Israelis at Annapolis.]

and Arab states' participation in the Annapolis conference for encouraging the prospect of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, NILI is urging the Administration to help restart Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli negotiations for peace. NILI leaders noted that U.S. hosted Israeli-Syrian negotiations in 1995 and 2000 achieved substantial progress on principles and practical ideas for a peace agreement.

[No negotiations are really necessary for a Lebanese-Israeli peace; the Lebanese just have to decide to end the state of war and stop harboring terrorists attacking Israel.

Peace between Syria and Israel is more complicated, since an equitable division of the Golan Heights needs to be negotiated.

If "substantial progress" refers to Israel making concession after concession while Syria remains intransigent, then NILI is correct about substantial progress being made in 1995 and 2000.

Rather than prejudging the division of the Golan, let the residents of the different portions decide they want to be part of Israel or part of Syria.]

What you can do - go to:

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