Monday, November 5, 2007

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What if there was a peace agreement and no one came?

The Christian Science Monitor's Ilene Prusher reports that Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has put the status of East Jerusalem on the table at the US-sponsored "international meeting" on the Middle East in Annapolis.

This would appear to be good news, since there isn't going to be a peace unless the Palestinian Authority can claim its capital to be in East Jerusalem.

Whether the Palestinians who live in these neighborhoods actually want this to happen is another question entirely, according to Prusher:

Those feeling skittish about the city's potential partition aren't just Israelis – who traditionally take the position that Jerusalem should be Israel's united capital – but also Palestinian Jerusalemites, who fear that their standard of living will fall if they come under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

"I don't want to have any part in the PA. I want the health insurance, the schools, all the things we get by living here," says Ranya Mohammed as she does her afternoon shopping in Shuafat.

"I'll go and live in Israel before I'll stay here and live under the PA, even if it means taking an Israeli passport," says Mrs. Mohammed, whose husband earns a good living from doing business here. "I have seen their suffering in the PA. We have a lot of privileges I'm not ready to give up."

Nabil Gheet, a neighborhood leader who runs a gift and kitchenware outfit in the adjacent town of Ras Khamis, also resists coming under the PA's control.

"We have no faith in the Palestinian Authority. It has no credibility," he says, as his afternoon customers trickle in and out. "I do not want to be ruled by Abbas's gang," he says, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas....

In a poll issued last year by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, 39 percent of Palestinians supported and 59 percent opposed a compromise in which East Jerusalem would become the capital of the Palestinian state, with Arab neighborhoods coming under Palestinian sovereignty and Jewish neighborhoods coming under Israeli sovereignty. Among Israelis, the survey noted, about 38 percent would agree and 60 percent would disagree with such an arrangement.

posted by Dan on 11.05.07 at 07:28 PM


It will be fun to watch Abbas in a speech urging these PA people in East Jerusalem not to go for Israeli citizenship! What will be more positive – native Palestinians opting for Israel or Palestinian leadership having second thoughts start mending their ways so that larger Palestinian population does not desert the whole dream of Palestinian state? It is hard to tell which is more bizarre.

Well, it is unlikely that situation would come to such possibilities any time soon. As some experts have already diagnosed, situation is not ripe for the Palestinian issue to get resolved. Even if relative success in Iraq can translate into some credibility for Bush Administration, it will be a while before Bush can cash out any of that ‘political capital’. By the time Iraq translates into something meaningful achievement for Bush, he will be on his way out. And of course there is ever present possibility of sudden blow ups to halt any accumulation of credibility to Bush. His administration has created enough of time bombs by actions and omission of actions (anyone for Pakistan?) that any single day can be a literal hell for his administration.

Add to this, oil prices are in no way letting the leverage Iran has via Hezbollah / Hamas. Further, there is still no solid backing behind PM Olmert so as to think that these Israeli initiatives are fully sold to Israeli Public. And then there is the divide of Hamas and Abbas.

The only thing going for the peace momentum is slow but surely tightening nose around Hamas. May be Rice’s peace initiative is just smoke for behind the screen arm twisting going on for Hamas – both to take away people’s attention from the suffering in Gaza as well as to show Hamas that there is a possibility of better day tomorrow if they listen. To that extent, well keep on talking. Words and photos of summits do not cost anything. Otherwise there is nothing hopefully concrete which can come out of this proposed gathering. There have to be more meaningful ways to strengthen Abbas administration in West Bank than just a conference. The proposed conference simply gives the impression of ‘hail Merry pass’ by Rice.

posted by: Umesh Patil on 11.05.07 at 07:28 PM [permalink]

The Palestinian Authority is a mess because Israel has been so intent on destroying it for the last 10 years. So it is no wonder they have no power, money and are in total disarray. The international community rejected their fair and honest elections and bankrupted the PA. Sharon destroyed all the security establishment before he, luckily, went into a coma. And there has never been an opportunity for the Palestinians to actually govern themselves. Thus, they are in absolute poverty, totally controlled through a blockade and checkpoints and a giant Apartheid wall. Again, it is no wonder that people in Israel, who have access to the outside world, who's schools and hospitals have never been closed, who have never had occupation forces impose curfews enforced on them... would prefer things to stay that way, even if they don't identify with "their" government. East Jerusalem is still occupied territory, it's just that the Jews have not had the chance to impose the same vicious conditions on them...

But, more importantly, this article is all the more proof that a two-state "solution" will never happen. It is in the interests of everyone to move to a one-state solution. A one-state solution was the best way to break South African Apartheid system. And while Israel's occupation of Palestine is more violent and more brutal and more complete than anything that was ever seen in South Africa, the answer is the same. A one-state solution is the best chance to correct historical wrongs and insure fairness for all. I hope more people give up the fantasy of a "two-state". these are two people's on one land. they can't be separated. It's just time to institutionalize that and impose the same rule of law over all of them.

posted by: Joe M. on 11.05.07 at 07:28 PM [permalink]

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