- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2001

Israels Foreign Minister Shimon Peres arrived early this week to inform the administration of Israels inconclusive talks with Egypt and Jordan on their joint plan to end the Palestinian violence. Mr. Peres has been welcomed in the White House and has conducted conversations with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and, of course, President Bush. Mr. Peres had a receptive hearing in Washington, as the "pope" of the Oslo peace process. How could it be otherwise?
The essence of the Egyptian-Jordanian proposal is the creation of a framework for mutual steps to be taken by the parties. It calls for a freeze on new settlements and the end of violence. Like Madrid and Oslo, the emphasis is being put on cooperative building blocks toward peace. The Israeli demands are missing from the Egyptian-Jordanian proposal. That means no mention of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafats failure to implement more than eight agreements based on the same proposition that peace will be achieved only if Israel surrenders its settlement policy.
Hiding behind the veneer of an explanation that Mr. Arafats reason for rejecting President Clintons and Prime Minister Ehud Baraks most generous offer for concessions was that Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace. The Oslo negotiations and agreement from 1992 to 93 did not deal with settlements only land for peace, which was the main strategic reason for Mr. Rabins acceptance of the Oslo agreement. In fact, it was tacitly understood at the time that most Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza would be incorporated into Israel as part of a peace treaty.
The Egyptian-Jordanian proposal does not include Israels security imperatives that must be accepted by Mr. Arafat. In fact, the small print calls for Israel not to "use weapons that are prohibited in international law," making the use of Israeli weapons subject to war crimes charges. This is totally unacceptable, even to the most peace-oriented Israeli government certainly the Sharon government. In fact, Ariel Sharon earlier dismissed the Egyptian-Jordanian proposal as unsatisfactory. Mr. Peres persuaded him to reconsider and send the proposal back to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah, with amendments. Those two leaders are reviewing the amended proposal.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa has already rejected one of the amendments, which is Israels refusal to freeze settlements. Israel is willing to stop building new settlements, but will continue to expand existing settlements, as has been Israels practice for some time, including the Barak government. Thus, Mr. Peres arrived in Washington hoping to convince President Bush and his administration to help persuade Egypt and Jordan to accept the Israeli amendments. A daunting task indeed.
The Israel left that was discredited in the 2001 elections, their utopian Oslo vanquished at Camp David, thanks to their "best friend," the rejectionist Mr. Arafat. The left now is trying to undermine the Sharon-Peres diplomatic efforts by independently negotiating with the European Union, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the Palestinians on a plan for peace that was written by Oslo colleagues Minister Yosi Beilin and Arafat Deputy Abu Alla. In fact, they are already finishing a draft, in book form, of the principles of negotiations, the issues, and the specific forms of agreement implementation on Jerusalem, borders, refugees the works. Minister Beilin has the ear of Javier Solana, the EU "foreign minister," and is consorting with EU socialist leaders.
The modified Egyptian-Jordanian proposal is a non-starter. It violates Mr. Sharons doctrine on peace and security. Mr. Sharon distrusts Mr. Arafat. He wants action, meaning a total end to violence, which Mr. Arafat has conditioned on the acceptance of the Egyptian-Jordanian proposal for peace. Mr. Arafat has used language to deceive the international community about his intentions. He portrays himself as seeking peace if only Israelis will end retaliation. For Mr. Arafat, security means warfare with Israel, both diplomatic and military. For him, the present Palestinian uprising is a war for independence. The use of violence is strategic commitment on the part of Mr. Arafat. In fact, no less than the former foreign minister in the Barak government, Shlomo Ben-Ami, wrote in the daily Maariv on April 20 the following: "The root of the problem is that at Oslo we negotiated with Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian people, not with Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian population and territories." Ben-Ami concluded that Arafat is a revolutionary and is not a partner for peace. This from the most dovish member of the Barak government.
What is meant by the leader of the Palestinian people (not the leader of the Palestinian population and territories) is the right of return of some 5 million Palestinians. Not only to the Palestinian territory,but to Israel proper as well. For Mr. Arafat, the issue is not territory, but ideology anchored in the Palestinian Charter. It calls for the settlement of Palestinians in all the Palestinian territory, i.e. including Israel. Despite all claims by the Palestinians that the Charter has been annulled, the most pernicious paragraphs (especially on the right of return) are as alive as ever.
The Palestinian state, by all definitions of political science and sociology, is a failed state. It is composed of corporate, feudal baronies in Gaza, Ramala, Nablus and Bethlehem. It has no institutionalized political structures or political parties. The Palestinian Authority, its so-called administrative and legislative body, is Mr. Arafats playground. There is no true democratic representation in the PA. In the absence of stable political parties, the Authority is undermined by extremist groups. We should be aware that our involvement in the Palestine issue can create for us a Kosovolike situation that would result in the American need to protect the corrupt security baronies from each other and protect Israel from their continued violence. America should stay out.

Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.


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