Jüdisches Leben in EuropaMit der Hilfe des Himmels

Promises - endlich auf Video!


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Rückzug aus den Gebieten:
Sharons Beitrag zur Stärkung von Hamas
Ein israelischer Rückzug aus den Gebieten ohne Abkommen wäre ein Rückzug zugunsten von Hamas. Jeder Rückzug, der nicht mit der PA vereinbart wurde, übergibt Hamas die Kontrolle, da sie heute der am besten organisierte Faktor auf der palästinensischen Seite ist...

Listen (Yiddish):
, politik/sharon-1j.rm und speziell zu Beilin: politik/sharon-2j.rm

The Wrong Exit from Gaza


Yossi Beilin

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's announcement last week about his intention to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip as well as a small number of settlements in the West Bank has stirred the Israeli political system, with many in the center-left, including most notably the Labor Party, expressing their support.

Such broad public support is not surprising. It is hard not to welcome an offer that promises an end to occupation of the most highly populated Palestinian area in the region. But Israeli enthusiasm - or more precisely, the sheer relief - about a future withdrawal from Gaza should not blind us to the risk inherent in Sharon's plan, or to the alternative course that Israel should take: withdrawal within the framework of a permanent status agreement.

The greatest risk underlying unilateral action is the strengthening of extremists. In acting unilaterally, Sharon discounts the value of those Palestinian pragmatists with whom he could have negotiated such a withdrawal. He also proves those extremists right who argued that there was no point in talking to Israel all along; not because Israel would never budge, but because it eventually will without even exacting a price.

By offering to withdraw unilaterally, Sharon thus risks missing an opportunity to win back any form of recognition for - at the very least - the border to which Israel plans to withdraw, leaving the Palestinians, in turn, without any guarantee that that border will not be violated. And thus, rather than acting to stabilize the conflict, not to say resolve it, unilateral withdrawal risks perpetuating it and perhaps even intensifying it.

It is mind-boggling to watch how Sharon's actions keep rewarding extremists and punishing pragmatists. Yet just as in the prisoner exchange last month Sharon handed over to Hezbollah what he should have handed over to Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, when he was the Palestinian Prime Minister, he now proposes to hand over to Hamas what he should be handing over to the current Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, who is known as Abu Ala.

This is bad for Israelis. It is devastating for Palestinians. And within the context of the global fight against terrorism, Sharon's behavior can hardly be said to be helpful.

The alternative to unilateral withdrawal is clear: withdrawal within the framework of a permanent status agreement.

The terms for such an agreement are no secret to anyone. President George W. Bush laid out his vision for such an agreement in a speech over a year and a half ago. The Quartet (United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia) has drafted a road map aimed at guiding the parties to such an agreement. More recently, a group of Israeli and Palestinian citizens concluded the Geneva Accord that could serve as a model for such an agreement. A shorter version, also drafted by Israelis and Palestinians, is the Ayalon-Nusseibeh Agreement on general guidelines for peace.

Reaching agreement, in other words, is feasible, and the partner, moreover, is very much there. Indeed, as the Geneva Initiative should all too clearly have demonstrated to Sharon, there - still - is significant pragmatic leadership on the Palestinian side. For how long may well depend on whether Israel decides to dismiss this leadership or strengthen its base. One thing is certain: by pulling the rug under the pragmatists' feet, there will be no pragmatists left.

Rather than moving unilaterally, therefore, Sharon should offer to withdraw from Gaza within the context of an agreement. Even if Sharon cannot embrace Geneva, he could begin permanent status negotiations with the Palestinians leadership on all issues as envisioned by the road map. The benefits of such an agreement are decisive: mutual recognition, an agreed border (including in Jerusalem), bilateral security arrangement, a resolution to the problem of Palestinian refugees, and normal relations between Israel and the entire Arab world.

The debate in Israel today is between those who believe in understanding and those who don't. Yet for all the public fears over concluding a permanent status agreement - that it would not be respected by the other side, that it would leave Israel with a hostile neighboring state, and so forth - it is hard not to see that unilateral disengagement leaves Israel at best with what a full-fledged agreement would leave Israel at worst. And while Israel need not be Panglossian in staking its security and livelihood on the best of all possible worlds, nor should it be defeatist in constantly planning, as Sharon tragically does, for the worst.

It took the Israeli right too many years to realize that Israel has no interest in maintaining its grip on the Gaza Strip. These years have cost untold suffering and death on both sides, intensifying friction and perpetuating the conflict. It is a stunning paradox that now the right is willing to face reality, it can only imagine doing so with a kind of defiant resignation when it could easily do so with a full-fledged agreement.

Why turn into a threat what might otherwise hold so much promise?

The writer is a former justice minister and is one of the architects of the Geneva Accord. International Herald Tribune, February 11, 2004, http://www.iht.com/frontpage.html.

A Silent Majority for Peace
By discussing the result of a recent poll conducted among the American Jewish Community between January 12 - 15 2004, D. DeLee, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, challenges commonly accepted ideas about this community’s attitude regarding a more active and evenhanded engagement by the U.S. in trying to broker an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Common Denominator:

Children with Special Needs
Y. Ettinger relates personal stories from the Lod Forum for Families with Children with Special Needs. In this recently launched grass-roots initiative by residents from varied ethnic and religious backgrounds in Israel, family relatives participate in meetings dedicated to the needs of boys and girls with disabilities and address challenges shared by those who care for them.


Settlers in Palestine
In this commentary on the Geneva Accords, B. Michael, columnist for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth, discusses in depth the issue of settlements and proposes creative solutions to what he considers to be a shortcoming of the Geneva Accords: the consent to absorb settlers who are willing to reside permanently in the future Palestinian state, while granting them all of the rights associated with the status of residency.

Common Ground News Service February, 2004
CGNews promotes constructive perspectives and dialogue about current Middle East issues.

From the Common Ground News Service
hagalil.com 22-02-2004



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