Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Churches for Middle East Peace - Not

One of the propaganda ploys of the enemies of Israel is to create organizations with idealist sounding names that have nothing to do with what they are interested in.

Thus, the group misleadingly calling itself "Churches for Middle East Peace" is really about trying to delegitimize Israel, not peace.

This comes from its June newsletter. As usual, we add some PRIMER perspective.

Annapolis: Keeping Peace a Priority

Peace Process Renewed

We are in a new phase in the process of peacemaking in the Holy Land. Ongoing talks under the Annapolis process launched last fall between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, even with their limitations, present a real opportunity for advancement toward the goal of a durable peace.

[Not really, since the Palestinian Arabs continue to show no willingness to compromise, end terrorism and dismantle their terror infrastructure.]

Most recently, Israel is talking about peace with Syria. There are also real risks of failure once again in the peacemaking process.

A series of unsuccessful or inconclusive peace talks for over quarter of a century - Madrid, Oslo, Camp David, Taba and Geneva - nevertheless have made progress toward defining and clarifying issues separating Israel and Palestinians.

[There's really just one key issue separating the: Israel wants to continue to exist; the Palestinian Arabs want to destroy Israel.]

Terms of the key final status issues (borders, refugees, Jerusalem and security) have been discussed. Some details seem to have been agreed. Maps reportedly were exchanged. Importantly there is better understanding now than in the past about what it will take to make a deal if there is going to be a deal. Boundaries will need to be based on the 1967 border, with mutual adjustments to allow some Israeli settlements to remain part of Israel in exchange for other land that would become part of the Palestinian state.

[There was no "1967 border," only temporary armistice lines that specifically were not supposed to prejudice future negotiations.

While Israel controls some land which it will undoubtedly give to the Palestinian Arabs, the Palestinian Arabs don't have any land to give Israel. Thus, to talk of a land swap is misleading.]

(Such land swaps were worked out unofficially between non-government Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in the 2003 Geneva Accords - see map on page 2.) No deal can be complete without the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Many Palestinian refugees have already accepted the political reality that the "right of return" may have to mean the right to accept compensation.

[This is a statement which is frequently made but which has no basis in fact, is of itself evidence of strong anti-Israel bias and is quite outlandish.

Peace will require compromise by both sides. Clearly, most of the compromises will be made by Israel, simply because Israel isn't really asking anything of the Palestinian Arabs other than a willingness to live in peace.

Consider how absurd it would be considered if anyone said peace would be impossible without Israeli control of Hebron. Yet the Israeli claim to Hebron is far stronger than the dubious Arab claim to any part of Jerusalem.]

What if a Deal is Not Possible?

With the long history of failed peace negotiations, the apparent inexorable political pressures in Israel for growth of settlements and the settler population in Palestinian territories,

[More accurately, disputed territories, to which Israel has at least as much legal, moral and historical claim as any other party.]

and continuing political weakness and divisions among Palestinians, some wonder whether a "one state" solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living together in a single, democratic state, is becoming the only option.

[I.e. Whether the Palestinian Arabs will go back to their insistence on the immediate destruction of Israel rather than their strategy of destroying Israel in stages.]

There are compelling reasons why a one-state solution is a non-starter. Israel was founded in response to the need for a Jewish majority state after centuries of European persecution of Jewish minorities, culminating in genocide. Given population trends, in a few years Jews could expect to be a minority again in a unified state that includes the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza.

[Precisely why the so-called one-state solution, which would more accurately be called the genocidal solution, keeps getting proposed.]

Olmert uses this demographic argument to support the urgent need for a separate and viable Palestinian state as necessary to preserve a Jewish majority state. Anything less than two states could lead to a Jewish minority, or an indefinite occupation by Israel of separated Palestinian lands, a clear recipe for ongoing conflict.

For their part, Palestinians fear they could be increasingly segregated and marginalized in a single state. They have long struggled for their own independent national identity that is not part of someone else's state, and today they will not settle for less.

[Rather, they have long struggled for the destruction of Israel. If they wanted their own national identity that would not be part of any other state, they could have established their own state at just about any time in the last six decades.]

Public and Official Support for Two States

At the Annapolis conference last November, over fifty countries, including Saudi Arabia and Syria, endorsed the two-state goal. A majority of both Israeli and Palestinian public opinion support the objective of a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace with secure and recognized borders. Arab states have said collectively they will support such an outcome.

[Unfortunately, they continue to subvert it by always supporting the most extreme among them.]

Hamas has indicated a willingness to allow Abbas to negotiate with Israel in the name of the Palestinian people as long as any agreement is approved in a referendum by all Palestinians. Even Iran on occasion has said it would not object to an agreement, provided all Palestinians agreed.

[For each, that approval is highly ambiguous and based on an understanding that any such agreement would be temporary, a vehicle enabling the Arabs to strengthen themselves in preparation for the ultimate destruction of Israel.]

Obstacles on the Road to Peace

It is of course by no means certain that a peace agreement this year between Israel and the Palestinians will happen. Some believe that the political influence of settlers is so great in Israel that they can prevent any agreement based on "land for peace." The political coalition supporting Prime Minister Olmert includes those who oppose any sharing of Jerusalem and hold on to the dream that that the Jewish State will extend from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.

[There are very few Israelis who, regardless of their dreams, are unwilling to compromise.]

Palestinian opposition includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad that permit or perpetrate terrorist rocket attacks against civilians in southern Israel, officially refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, and includes those who hold on to the dream that Israel is a temporary phenomenon that will eventually go away.

[The supposedly "moderate" Fatah is in the same category, supporting terrorist arms such as the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade and Tanzim and continuing to call for the destruction of Israel in its charter.]

With its control of Gaza and ability to allow terrorist rocket attacks, Hamas cannot remain indefinitely outside the political process. Intermediaries have sought to arrange a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel and political accommodations between Hamas and Fatah, although none have been successful yet.

[More realistically, no peace is possible as long as Hamas exists in anything resembling its present form.]

US Role

Many, including those with leading roles in past peace negotiations, are skeptical that the US Administration is likely to bring about an agreement now, especially given the limited time available. However, a US role has not always been necessary. The Oslo Accord was negotiated without US participation in 1993, as was the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994. Israel is currently talking about peace with Syria through intermediaries without US involvement. The limits of US influence were suggested by Secretary Rice when she said in May that Israel and the Palestinians can have an agreement this year "if they want it".

Yet the existence of the US-initiated Annapolis process itself forces the parties to defend and clarify their positions and attempt to negotiate differences. The empowerment finally given to Secretary Rice to play a proactive role can make a crucial difference.

With both Olmert and Abbas inclined to reach an agreement if they can get sufficient political support from their own constituencies, the US will now need to find ways, if it can, to empower them to do so. There are a number of actions the US could take, such as a statement on the necessity for peace of sharing Jerusalem, but not much can be expected prior to Tuesday, November 4.

Given that issues are so interconnected, all elements of an agreement may have to be announced all at once. Olmert and Abbas reportedly resisted a suggestion from Secretary Rice in May that they publish a memorandum on the subjects upon which they had already agreed, perhaps because they feared any announcement could lead to a political crisis unless it was part of a comprehensive package. This story does suggest, however, that areas of agreement exist.

The CMEP Board noted in a recent letter to President Bush that "the path to an agreement cannot be traveled by the two parties alone. Israel will need reassurances about its security that only the US can provide. Palestinians and the Arab states will need US assurances that terms of an agreement will be carried out." While the US cannot impose peace terms on the parties, no peace agreement can be carried out without an active US role as facilitator, security guarantor and underwriter. It is possible that late in the year the US will have an opportunity to make bridging proposals to close remaining gaps in the positions of the two sides.

[This ignores the continuing refusal of even Abbas to budge from the extreme positions Arafat held at the start of the Oslo Experiment along with the reality that as long as Gaza remains under control of Hamas any agreement would be useless.]

Timing and Risks

Last November the Bush Administration gave itself the deadline of the end of its term next January to bring about an agreement. If there is to be an agreement, it may well not arrive until the last minute - that is, late this year.

The fragile state of the Israeli coalition could prompt new elections anytime and Palestinian elections are expected early next year. There is a real risk that failed negotiations would not only be the political demise of both Olmert and Abbas but also discredit moderates on both sides who have sought peace and further empower those who seek continued settlement expansion and violence. No one wants a repetition of the disaster that followed failed Camp David negotiations in 2000 that led to the violence in the second intifada.

[It wasn't failed negotiations that led to the Arab terror offensive; it was the Arab determination to not agree to peace and to launch a terror offensive instead.

As always, the key to peace remains a change in the attitude of the Arabs.]

Time is not on the side of reaching an agreement. Further delays, especially with on-going settlement expansion, inevitably increase political costs of accommodation. Failure yet again to reach an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would only add fuel to other ongoing conflicts in the region.

[References to Israeli communities in the disputed territories are nothing more than red herrings.

If the Arabs were interested in peace, the presence of a relative handful of Jews in whatever territory they were given would be no more of a problem than the presence of a far larger number of Arabs within Israel.]

Syria Again

Interest has revived this spring in a peace agreement between Israel and Syria. As time and energy may not be sufficient to attempt two peace agreements in one year, Israel might seek an agreement first with Syria before taking on the Palestinians. A Syrian agreement could empower Olmert to take on the more difficult task of Palestine, or it could have the opposite effect, reducing pressure to make the hard decisions needed for peace with the Palestinians, at least for now.

CMEP's Advocacy Role in 2008 and Beyond

There are those within the US Congress who remain opposed to the views of the US, Israeli and Palestinian authorities that the goal of a viable Palestinian state is the basis for a durable peace.

[Another Palestinian Arab state is in no way a basis of a durable peace; it it merely one of the possible outcomes if the Arabs ever decide to live in peace.]

Many others recognize the imperative for peacemaking but are unwilling to act. Yet, an increasing number are tired of the status quo and are open to opportunities to take a pro-active stance in support of US diplomacy.

Continued advocacy by CMEP and its grassroots advocates is needed to support an active U.S. leadership role. Most importantly there is a need to ensure continuity of effort between this Administration and the next to keep the peace process a priority for US policy. That will mean continued grassroots advocacy by CMEP with congressional and administration officials, continued direct communications by CMEP's Board and Heads of Communion with the Administration, and CMEP support for Congressional peace efforts through support of constructive, pro-peace House and Senate initiatives.

CMEP is the voice for peace of its member churches and organizations in the halls of Congress and with the Administration. We welcome your comments and views, and we hope for your continued support.

[More accurately, CMEP is a voice of anti-Israel propaganda masquerading as a voice for peace.]

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