Not much to say here, but WOW. Dov Weissglas was once Ariel Sharon’s right-hand man. He was the one who informed the world that the hidden agenda behind the Gaza withdrawal, in his own formulation was to put “formaldehyde” into the peace process.
Lara Friedman, of Americans for Peace Now circulated this op-ed that Weissglas published in Hebrew only in Yediot
Ahronot yesterday. You can read her intro and the full piece by clicking here. I reprint the op-ed in its entirety here to increase its circulation. When a figure like Weissglas, whom no one would confuse with a “liberal,” a “leftist” or a “peacenik” says this it shows how clear the way out of the Israel-Palestine conflict really is.
It is time for Americans who care about Israel, Palestine or both to come together to push our government not to simply advocate ephemeral “negotiations”, but talks that are based on the parameters we all, including Weisglas, understand will be the realistic solution to this conflict. No more general talk of peace, but specific demands on both sides to accept these parameters, which so closely mirror those of former President Bill Clinton.
If Weissglas, the closest thing we have today to Ariel Sharon, can advocate such a step, surely concerned Americans can, and so can our current President.
He Who Wants and He Who Doesn’t
Yediot Ahronot (p. 21), August 1, 2010
by Dov Weissglas
In recent days the possibility has arisen that the Palestinians will acquiesce to direct talks on the final status arrangement. Not out of a genuine desire, but rather to increasing American-European pressure, and their concern that they will be seen as peace rejectionists.
The Palestinian refusal to conduct direct talks with Israel does not stem from satisfaction with life under the occupation or any loss of interest in attaining a state of their own, but rather from the grave doubt they have with respect to the Israeli government’s desire as well as ability, in its present composition, to reach the difficult decisions necessary for a viable political solution.
There are those who believe that things should not be made easy for the Israeli government and that it should not be given a gift. As they see it, the Israeli government is in desperate need of peace talks; this is the expectation from it both externally and internally, and that due to the expected cost of any settlement, it will fail to reach any decisions in negotiations.
If so, why help them for nothing? Others are concerned that the failure of such talks will have difficult political and security repercussions for the Palestinians: an undermining of the relative stability in Judea and Samaria as well as the weakening of the Fatah (which is weak in any case), compared to Hamas and others opposing a settlement.
The Israeli government does indeed have a great interest in talks. In the internal sphere — most of the criticism directed against it is due to its poor set of achievements in the field of the peace process. The public, although it is said to have shifted to the right, largely hopes for renewed negotiations and a two-state solution, with all that this entails: the ending of the occupation, the evacuation of settlements, and the division of the land. Those who are not keen on reaching such an agreement are also concerned, and justly so, that the continued gridlock may undermine the security situation (which anyway is shaky), and bring about the renewal of terror attacks. There is no doubt that the government, and particularly the party in power that hopes to get reelected, is afraid of standing for reelection without having scored any achievement in the political sphere. The political-security issue has been at the top of the Israeli debate forever.
And externally, too: the government also understands that the vast devaluation of Israel’s standing is the result of the continuation of the occupation, the harming of human rights in areas under IDF control, the settlements and the actions taken by the settlers. All these have caused Israel to deteriorate to a political low, the likes of which it has not seen for many years.
In the course of the second Intifada, the mad years of the suicide bombers, a Palestinian Authority tainted with terrorism and corruption, armed gangs and anarchy, and the vices and failures characteristic of Palestinian life, the Palestinians’ demand for sovereignty was an easily dismissed joke. Today the situation in the West Bank is utterly different: the Palestinian Authority has nearly stopped terrorism, checked the anarchy, rid the streets of armed gangs, instated law and order, and is combating corruption. The world has begun investing again, tourists have returned, the economy is flourishing.
Unlike Arafat and his questionable cronies, the Palestinian Authority in its present composition is accepted around the world as a serious and responsible government, which is seeking a settlement. This is where the anger and impatience directed at Israel stems from. Israel appears to be a peace rejectionist.
This is why Israel is seeking direct talks whereas the Palestinians are not. If Netanyahu is successful in forcing Abu Mazen to begin discussions, he must under no means be allowed to fail. The outline of the possible solution is clear: the establishment of a Palestinian state, the evacuation of most of Judea and Samaria with some territorial swaps, devising a joint control arrangement in Jerusalem based on demographic principles, and the resettling of the Palestinian refugees within the borders of the Palestinian state.
The present government, like any other government, will be unsuccessful in substantially altering this outline. The sooner it makes the painful decisions necessary for its implementation, the sooner Palestinian suspicions will evaporate and chances will grow for a successful outcome to talks.