DID THE NEW YORK TIMES GIVE PERMISSION FOR THIS TO HAPPEN? Despite the NY Times' best efforts, not everyone is cooperating in the rush to embrace the Saudi "peace plan" - specifically, the Saudis themselves, according to this article in Ha'aretz
(the third item).
Also, in The American Prospect, Richard Just
points out some problems with the proposal:
Israel's pre-1967 borders are militarily indefensible. It is possible not to care about this particular fact (Israel's detractors in the Arab world seem not to) but it is not possible to deny it. No country that has been invaded three times in 50 years should -- or will -- accept indefensible borders. At the same time, most Israelis understand that their country must -- for reasons moral as well as practical -- allow the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Most Israelis know that, broadly speaking, this means an approximate return to pre-1967 borders.
The key word, though, is approximate. It has long been understood that the pre-1967 borders will provide the rough outlines of a final settlement. The key to resolving the entire conflict rests in how to tweak the pre-1967 borders to make them defensible. (Measures such as the creation of an Israeli security strip along the Jordan River, the setting up of Israeli listening posts in the West Bank, and Israeli control over Palestinian airspace could accomplish this -- without undue infringements on Palestinian sovereignty.) The moderate Israeli belief -- epitomized by the views of Yitzhak Rabin -- that Israel could be both reasonably secure and allow the creation of a Palestinian state for years sustained the faith of the crucial Israeli center in the peace process. And that is exactly what seven years of negotiations were supposed to deliver: a compromise that recognized the Palestinians' right to a state on the vast majority of the West Bank and Gaza while also accommodating Israel's legitimate need for security. By throwing down what sounds like an all-or-nothing proposal, Saudi Arabia demonstrates that it still doesn't understand why negotiations have always been necessary -- and still are.
Also, Just makes the following welcome distinction:
The Saudi Arabian proposal also appears to dangerously conflate Israel's need for a Palestinian endgame with its need for a settlement with Syria. The two issues could not be more different: Settling with the Palestinians is both a moral and strategic imperative for Israel; settling with a Syrian dictator who has given every indication of being a dangerous anti-Semite is not. Unlike the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the occupation of the Golan Heights has never been a morally dubious enterprise, and it continues to be necessary. Here again, Prince Abdullah's proposal oversimplifies: He assumes that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will also resolve the Israeli-Syrian conflict. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Just's specific points are valid, but his stressing the need for negotiations only hints at the real issue: Even if a peace agreement is reached, the result will not necessarily be peace. The second intifada has destroyed, for most Israelis, the belief that a peace agreement will put an end to conflict with the Palestinians. By turning down the offer at Camp David and starting the intifada as a counteroffer, the Palestinians showed that even the most unrealizable grievance - i.e., the "right of return" - could be a pretext for resorting to armed conflict, in violation of every agreement made in connection with the Oslo process. No realistic peace agreement could be expected to satisfy all Palestinian grievances, and the present intifada has shown that the Palestinians prefer violence to an imperfect peace.
Accordingly, those who look at the Camp David and Taba meetings and think that true peace was almost at hand - such as Yossi Beilin
and the New York Times
- are missing the point; they are confusing the appearance of peace with the thing itself.
As one last aside, Smarter Times
skewers the NYT's proprietary hyping ot the Saudi plan, with the following point which Thomas Friedman knows but his editors have forgotten:
[M]ost of the Arab tyrants are not interested in normalizing relations with Israel. They are interesting in "talking" about it, because it reaps them the public relations benefit of changing the subject away from their own repressive human rights practices and their support for terrorist attacks against Americans.