Some people will never get it, especially Yossi Beilin, chairman of Israel’s left-wing Meretz-Yachad party, who said recently,
The rejuvenated Arab initiative, the Arab Quartet (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), and US willingness to help the process along are making possible a diplomatic step forward. Rejection is liable to cost Israel heavily. Olmert, who entangled Israel in a failed war in Lebanon, is now taking it upon himself to pass up a rare opportunity for significant diplomatic progress. This is unforgivable. — Yossi Beilin, on the Meretz USA web site
The Arabs say that the proposal must be accepted as it is written, with no changes. Olmert has called the original Saudi initiative ‘interesting’ and has indicated that he would be willing to talk to the Arabs about it. Why is this position unforgivable? Does Beilin want him to say “yes, I agree with the Arab proposal as written, send the 5 million refugees over tomorrow?”
Beilin, one of the prime movers of the failed Oslo peace process, has been consistently wrong in assuming that concrete concessions by Israel will lead to peace. In 1995 he signed an extra-governmental peace agreement called the ‘Geneva accord’ with Palestinian Authority minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. The Geneva accord, financed primarily by European nations, called for almost complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, and included a fiendishly ambiguous statement about the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. It never received government (or even opposition) support.