Monday, October 13, 2003

On Army Radio this AM, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was doing his best to dismiss the whole "Geneva discussions" business: it's "entirely virtual", the Israelis involved are not elected representatives etc. He's correct of course, but that won't matter at all to the Europeans, Kofi Annan etc.

Oslo architect Ron Pundak was asked how these "agreements" managed to attain consent from the Palis when the Clinton plan did not. Pundak's answer was that the Clinton plan was 1) too general on issues like Jerusalem 2) had Israel receiving 3% of territory for which it offered nothing in return. Pundak's response is preposterous: if such were really the case, Arafat would have had no reason to walk away from Camp David. Moreover Clinton would never had permitted him to do so. And it's well known that the Pali list of objections to the Clinton plan included foremost what the Palis call the "right of return" for descendents of 1948 refugees.

And Pundak was evasive when interviewer Udi Segal tried to understand the details in the "agreements" regarding the refugee issue. As I wrote yesterday, it sounds like their solution is that Israel should accept an unspeciifed number of descendents of 1948 refugees into its pre-1967 borders, without it being called the "right of return". I'm certain that if Palestinian officials describe these discussions to their own people, they will insist that the "right of return" has been preserved.

When (or if) at sometime in the future there is a "real" attempt at a permanent solution agreement, it will involve a certain amount of ambivalence and risk-taking. The fact that Ron Pundak ecstatically describes the "agreements" as "a classic win/win situation" and seems to harbor no doubts whatsoever about Pali intentions makes the whole thing even more questionable.

More: In the US there is apparently a law called the "Logan Act" which specifically outlaws the type of thing that Beilin and co. have done here.

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