Thursday, June 19, 2003

"Oslo Lives": A fisking Unlike some similar writings from others, this Jpost op-ed by German parliamentarian Friedbert Pflueger actually precedes each of his EU platitudes with a mild attempt to address the concerns and beliefs that most Israelis have regarding the current conflict:

Was it a mistake for Joschka Fischer to visit him in April 2003, thus bolstering his position in the midst of an internal Palestinian power struggle? This may well be the case. But there is also an argument in favor of Fischer's meeting with Arafat namely, that Arafat's engagement, as pater patriae, remains an essential part of the peace process.

Assuming that Pflueger maintains some awareness of the situation here, he can't really believe that Arafat "remains an essential part of the peace process". More likely that Fischer was seeking either to placate German Muslims and Arab nations; or to demonstrate that Europe doesn't simply follow Washington's diplomatic steps.

In any case, there must be greater transparency within the Palestinian executive branch. In the first months of 2002 the Israeli army discovered documents in Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah indicating that EU funds had been misappropriated to sponsor terrorist-related activities. Two journalists from the German weekly Die Zeit traced the flow of EU funds to the radical movements in a remarkable dossier ("Arafat bombs, Europe pays," June 6, 2002).

At that point the European Union should have suspended direct payments to the PA.

Although it is still important that we provide assistance, particularly humanitarian aid, to Palestine, transparancy is critical and examples of the detrimental impact of this type of support are many.

One particularly problematic example is Palestinian schoolbooks. These educational materials, partially funded by the EU, continue to preach hatred. In these texts the state of Israel does not even exist, nor do Israeli towns appear on their maps.

Rectifying the EU approach to Palestinian rejectionism and extremism requires a real policy shift, not a call for "greater transparency". Pflueger speaks like a true bureaucrat. Can Europeans really wonder why Israel abhors the idea of "international monitors" who would respond to Palestinian shootings and Kassam rocket firings with (at best) appeals for more bureaucracy?

In truth, Pflueger probably intends these paragraphs as a prelude to what he thinks the real problem is:
Israel's settlement policy is one of the biggest barriers to developing mutual trust and creating an atmosphere in which negotiations can take place. The destruction of Palestinian homes to make room for additional settler housing must be halted. The Israeli government must take action on, and be willing to consider difficult solutions to, the settlement question. Furthermore, Jerusalem should grant the Palestinians their own state. Palestinians must also regain the right to earn their living in Israel.

So there you go: the settlements are the issue - not Palestinian (and Arab) rejectionism.

And notwithstanding Pflueger's sympathetic warmup, Israel must withdraw from the West Bank/Gaza (without conditions it seems) to create a Palestinian state and maintain open borders. Why not make an attempt to convince skeptical Israelis how this could possibly work as long as the Palestinian Authority "combats" terrorist groups by offering to share power with them?

What is Pflueger's remark about the "destruction of Palestinian homes to make room for additional settler housing" referring to? Is he talking about the IDF's punitive destruction of the homes of suicide bombers? Is he talking about the separation of Palestinian farmers from their land by the security fence? Conceivably he could mean this (to my knowledge unparalleled) IDF action in Hebron, but more likely he gets too much of his information from pro-Palestinian prevaricators.

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