As the Annapolis conference approaches, Israel and the Palestinians (Abbas faction) disagree about whether to try to decide ‘core issues’ (borders, refugees, Jerusalem) or, as Israel prefers, just to produce a general statement of principles.
Abbas is pushing hard for core issues, but the version of his bottom line that he has so far presented is unacceptable to Israel: full withdrawal to 1967 borders including all of East Jerusalem, return of refugees and their descendants to Israel, Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount and Western Wall, etc.
Ami Isseroff thinks that Israel is making a mistake in trying to avoid discussing the core issues, but he thinks that Israel should be the one to lay down the bottom lines. Here are his ideas for an Israeli core proposal:
Liquidation of the refugee problem – This was deliberately created and is artificially maintained as a tool for destroying Israel. This was explicitly stated at a Fateh Web site until not long ago in so many words: “The refugee issue is the winning card that will mean the end of the state of Israel.” Everyone knows it is so, yet the UN, including the EU and the United States, continue to support the UNRWA, which perpetuates the refugee problem, and treats Arab refugees from Palestine differently from every other refugee population in the world. Termination of this situation is a key requirement for peace.
Recognition of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and the right of Israel to exist as the state of the Jewish people - Until today, this right has never been recognized by any Arab country including those who made peace with Israel, and it was not recognized by the Palestinians either. The right of Israel to exist was recognized [this can be disputed -- ed.], but this recognition was a cover for the plan to flood Israel with Arab “refugees.”
Recognition that the Jewish people and the State of Israel have historic rights in Jerusalem – The internationalization of Jerusalem must come off the international agenda. Jerusalem is holy to many religions, but in all history, except for the short-lived crusader state, Jerusalem was only the capital city of one nation – the Jewish nation. We cannot expect that the Palestinians will recognize any Jewish rights in East Jerusalem if the United States doesn’t recognize any Jewish rights in any part of Jerusalem.
A declaration that wanton murder of civilians is illegitimate – The Palestinians agreed to an end to violence in the Oslo accords, but did not keep their word.
The above conditions must be met if there is to be peace. They must be implemented by declarations in Arabic as well as in English for the benefit of foreigners, and more important, by sincere actions. These must include a total cessation of the systematic incitement and racism that is rife in Palestinian society and the Arab world. No more Nakba commemoration parades with posters reading “Haifa,” “Beisan,” “Birsaba,” “Yaffo.” No more maps that show all of Israel as Palestine. No more kiddie shows of children willing to blow themselves up to “liberate” Jerusalem. No more TV shows and newspaper articles about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Jews baking Matzot from the blood of Christian children. No more sermons about God destroying the Jewish sons of dogs and monkeys.
Israel in effect is saying “we are not an obstacle to peace; we are prepared to make an agreement on borders that will allow for a Palestinian state, but we will not accept, explicitly or implicitly (by allowing incitement) your definition of our state as illegitimate”.
These principles have to be Israel’s bottom line, but they obviously aren’t sufficient conditions for a deal. An agreement that won’t be kept is far worse than no agreement at all, just a prescription for war. Can we ask Israel to withdraw from territory that will be difficult or impossible to reoccupy in the event that the Palestinians don’t live up to a commitment to end violent attacks on Israel? How can this be guaranteed when Abbas doesn’t even control Fatah extremists, not to mention Hamas?
It’s hard to understand the logic of the Europeans and others who want Israel to sign on the dotted line on the assumption that that the Palestinians will act in good faith, given their track record until now.
So yes, here are the core principles. But I think an actual deal has to wait for the day that there is some stability on the other side, and a reason to believe that agreements will — or even can — be honored.