Dream Team: The Oslo parallels

Deja Vu 

I’ve been catching up on some older documentaries lately, specifically Oslo related. The reason for that is the fact that though it is about 15 years later, it is hard to deny that we are back in Oslo all over again. The Palestinians have manned their PR / negotiation teams with the same cast of characters, rolled out the same demands, heck even the format so far is identical.

In Oslo the main event was the back & forth on the document known as the ‘declaration of principles’, today again the rush is on to formulate a ‘declaration of principles’ for Annapolis. There are a few key differences however.

  • The Palestinians, the US, Quartet envoy Blair, Europe – Pretty much everyone save Israel wants the declaration of principles done before Oslo/Annapolis, in order to be able to move to final status issues at Annapolis itself. This makes the now hovering without a date Annapolis summit more dangerous
  • Instead of a hidden estate in Norway under secrecy, Annapolis will feature every media outlet on Earth increasing the pressure on Israel exponentially, throw in Rice, & the President and the danger levels go off the scale. How often does Israel seek to go against its stalwart ally when its needs are not on par with America, worse a few minutes from Washington itself?
  • Instead of Shamirs, Rabins, & Sharons, we have Olmert, Livni, & Barak. These lightweights are liable to hit the mat before the bikini clad lady even holds up the round 2 card. Instead of a group of Zionists who helped fight, found & dedicate their lives to the state we have a group of self serving pigs determined to hold on to their own gravy train, prestige & egos. One is the most unpopular PM in history, the others are seeking the PM spot above all else. Barak in fact is solely responsible for the Jerusalem dividing shenanigans we see now, thanks to the Oslo extended to Camp David, extended to Taba fiasco.
  • Back in Oslo Israel controlled Gaza, the West Bank and South Lebanon. Today Hamas controls Gaza, No one controls the PA held West Bank, and Hezbollah controls south Lebanon.. Lovely. These are the results of the last time we headed out for this folly, it does not bode well for the results this time to say the least. Barak himself the locksmith who handed the Lebanese keys to Hezbollah, and put Jerusalem on the table disastrously simply cannot be trusted politically, as his domain is the military.
  • Instead of a strong Israel with defensible borders, we have a tarnished post Lebanon II team and a nuclear seeking Iran. While back in Oslo we had a freshly collapsed Soviet Union which let a lot of steam out of the Arab engine, today we have Putin recklessly reviving despotic Arab support in the region and brushing up on his cold war history.
  • Instead of a Terrorist Arafat with full sway over the Palestinian people, we have a Holocaust denier with nearly zero sway over the Palestinian people in Abbas, one who needs to feed on Israeli table scraps just to stay afloat – This keeps getting better & better.

The whole thing stinks, Israel Harel (not the founder of the Mossad who passed away, but a Haaretz columnist sharing the same name) writes today that the whole thing looks like a disaster waiting to happen in the sense that this team representing us in Annapolis is likely to implode in our faces.. I share his concerns, he’s no reader of tea leaves. This is all unfortunately clear as day, which makes it all the more absurd.

Haaretz: Paying a high price

[...] 

The main topic of international debate today is over rights. For that reason, the Palestinians, who never stop speaking the language of rights, have broad support in the world and even in the Israeli left. The language of the rights of the Jews, however, is unfamiliar to Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who were raised in the Betar movement. It is not uttered loudly – it is not uttered at all – not even on the ceremonial level, by those who are cooking up the stew of concessions for Annapolis. They promise us, just as Yossi Beilin and company promised at Oslo, that “there is a partner for dialogue” and “we must take advantage of the window of opportunity” and in order to reinforce the partner “we must make gestures,” and, above all, for the sake of peace, make “painful concessions.” “The partner,” in case you were not paying attention, is the same partner as in Oslo, and the language of gestures and concession is exactly the same language that led to the Oslo disaster.

Abbas’ negotiating team represented the Palestinians in the meetings that led to the Oslo Accords. It is the same team that will be facing us at Annapolis. Yasser Arafat went to the White House to reap the profits and, eventually, the Nobel Peace Prize. This team, headed by Ahmed Qureia, has returned 15 years later to push us into a new corner.

Israel already suffers the image of an opponent of peace. The regular guest at the Prime Minister’s Residence is unsheathing its claws and has stated that unless the 1967 borders are followed precisely, there will be no arrangement. He refuses to talk about canceling the right of return.

What about Israel? As usual, it is bewildered and defensive. If that is the case now, it is a snap to guess how it will behave under the intense media spotlight of Annapolis.

Gone Fishing 

Rice having been here 4 days, now sees the logic in downplaying expectations. Evidently a visit here in reality which is less pastoral than the respected halls of Annapolis jolted her out of her reverie. The two sides are far apart, the Palestinians have nothing to give yet demand the world, while Israel the ally here, is being crunched and is likely to split like a wine grape.

The legacy of Annapolis won’t be peace, it will be concessions and the final stroke of this government. Just ask Barak, the last time he played peacemaker on the beaches of Taba he got his govt handed to him on a platter & a nice long 10 year vacation – Booted out on his tuchus by the Israeli electorate while Israel faced a new intifada.

Israel’s public itself is not even paying attention, unlike last time there is no wave of euphoria, no massive peace camp with marches & music. You have to walk miles to find someone who actually believes Annapolis is about peace around here.

UPDATE: Back to reality; Rice lays it out on the table.
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Sec. RiceSec. Rice on her plane out of Tel-Aviv gave statements to reporters, they are quite encouraging and touch on a number of the issues raised above. Chiefly, a return to the Roadmap meaning commitments must be met before rushing to statehood, she recognized past failures & their effects on Israeli security. She also importantly distanced possible declarations from their resolution, meaning core issues raised by the parties will require negotiation, movement, resolution, verification & time – Not raw demands that are a fait accompli.

YNET has the story:

Rice lowers expectations ahead of peace conference
Yitzhak Benhorin Published: 10.18.07, 22:22 / Israel News

WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that Israel and the Palestinians would have to implement the diplomatic plan known as the road map en route to a permanent peaceagreement. Speaking to reporters on her flight from Tel Aviv to London, Rice hinted that to advance the peace process, Israel would have to freeze settlement growth and dismantle illegal outposts, while the Palestinians would have to take apart terror infrastructures.

Sources in Washington said the secretary of state’s comments indicate a “back to reality” attitude on her part. Rice said that her Mideast trip focused not only on obtaining a declaration of principles, but also on implementing the Road Map. “Obviously, this is the beginning of a process and it’s the most serious process that they’ve had in some time (Israel and the Palestinian Authority),” she said.

“And so I talked not only about the document but also about how they could, in advance of any meeting that would take place, enhance confidence that they are indeed moving to a new set of conditions. And that means carrying out phase one of the Road Map obligations. It means confidence-building measures that might be taken. So we spent a great deal of time, a good deal of time, on that issue as well.”

Rice also expressed her thoughts on the possible threats Israel may face should it withdraw from the territories. “If, in fact, they’re going to be asked to withdraw from the West Bank at some point, what does that mean for the security of Israel?That’s a fair question. It really is,” she said. “And so one of the things that I take back is that we are going to need to spend a lot of time thinking about how this (Palestinian) state, if we are fortunate enough to be able to bring it into being, how it is going to relate to the security of its neighbor and vice versa.

They (Israel) had the withdrawal from Lebanon and it brought instability in Lebanon. They had the withdrawal from the Gaza, and look what happened in Gaza,” said the secretary of state. National Security Advisor Steve Hadley is expected to arrive in Israel next week, while Rice is scheduled to return to the region in November.

Rice said there was significant progress made regarding the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but stressed that the declaration of principles, which will apparently be presented at the upcoming Annapolis peace conference, would not resolve them. “It couldn’t completely do that in seven weeks, eight weeks, nine weeks. It couldn’t conceivably do that. So all this document is trying to do is to demonstrate that they believe that they have a basis for pushing forward on the resolution of those outstanding issues,” she said.

This is the 1st time of note we have heard pragmatism re-inserted into these discussions from the US perspective. Peace is a worthy goal, it must also be a workable peace, a practical peace & a real peace. These comments should hopefully bring both parties (who am I kidding, I mean the PA) back to earth. They’ve been talking a big game about ‘not attending’, apparently they don’t read the Hashmonean or they would know all my whining of late is precisely because you do not dis the Secretary of State of the United States of America lightly.

Rice’s comments are big step towards Israel avoiding that type of territory entirely, we will see what Mr. Abbas has to say.

[tags]Israel, PA, Annapolis Sumit, Oslo Accords, Taba Accords, Camp David II[/tags]