Peace, No Process
are in the midst of a cultural war between the West and Islam, and Israel represents
the West. We hold a mirror to the Arab countries' failure.
Prof. Asher Susser, Mideast Expert,
Tel Aviv University
will never be peace, only a compromise
a conflict-managing but no conflict-solution."
Dr. Litwak, Islamist, Tel Aviv University
wasn't long ago that Amos Oz, one of Israel's widely respected and most vocal
writers, declared that there was still hope. "We expect a painful separation
[of the two peoples], a division of their small house into two even tinier dwellings.
The time has come," he remarked. So, it seemed that despite the terrible
upswing in violence since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000
dubbed by Israel The Thousand-Day War and by Palestinians the
Al-Aqsa Intifada the peace
process between Israel and the Palestinians was again within reach.
after various cease-fires were repeatedly broken, all efforts to reach peace were
abandoned again; even Amos Oz seemed to have given up hope. As
many as a quarter of all Palestinians contemplated, whether the struggle for independent
statehood should be superseded by a struggle for equal citizenship or a secular
one-state solution by turning Israel into a country with a Muslim majority. "The
only question is how long it will take, and how much all sides will have to suffer,
before Israeli Jews can view Palestinian Christians and Muslims not as demographic
threats but as fellow citizens," summarized Michael Tarazi, a legal adviser
to the PLO, in an op-ed in the New York Times (Oct. 4, 2004).
Yasser Arafat died. His passing sparked an eager willingness to talk peace with
Abbas (a.k.a Abu Mazen), who won the presidential elections that took
place on Jan. 9, 2005 after he had temporarily taken over the reign of Fatah after
Arafat's death (and who, according to the New York Times, refused to talk
to Arafat in the last 16 months of the late Palestinian president's life), took
immediate steps to regain Israel's trust. He called for an end to the incitement
and a halt of the armed struggle, calling the Intifadah "a mistake."
daily Ha'aretz quoted Abu Mazen on Dec. 16: " 'The use of weapons
in the current Intifadah is damaging and must cease.' That was the important message
that [the] PLO chairman delivered in his first statement on the subject following
the death of Yasser Arafat. It was not the first time that [Abu Mazen] made such
a statement, but its importance this time is derived from his position, and the
anticipation that it will be received with understanding and acceptance, by a
majority of Palestinians the same majority that in recent public opinion
polls has expressed the view that the negotiations with Israel should be resumed....
Abu Mazen's remarks...were spoken to Asharq al-Awsat, in Arabic
as Israel has often demanded, to the Arab and not only the Palestinian public.
It was meant for every Arab and Palestinian movement and school of thought, inside
and outside the territories, including Iran and Hezbollah, so that they know the
intentions of the person who will be running the PA."
Egypt, along with the United States, Russia and the European Union expressed willingness
to take another shot at solving the Mideast conflict once and for all.
to an editorial in the centrist Yediot Aharonot (Dec. 22, 2004) in Tel
Aviv, "Arafats death, the elections planned in the Palestinian Authority,
the democratic reform and liberalism that they have promised to implement and
an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza
have created a historical opportunity for
an economic and humane solution to the refugee problem in the natural and only
place possible: a future Palestinian state. The de-Arafatization process has been
religious, right wing daily Hatzofeh, however, holds on to the belief (Nov.
24, 2004) that the post-Arafat Palestinian Authority leadership is more
sophisticated, but not more moderate.
on February 8, 2005, Palestinian President Abu Mazen and Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon met in Sharm el-Sheikh and declared a cease fire.
didn't last. Again.
Second Intifadah has officially ended.
went wrong during Arafat's reign?
the height of the second, armed Intifadah, a
summit at Aqaba was held on June 4, 2003, between then-Palestinian Prime Minister
Mahmoud Abbas, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and U.S. President George
W. Bush to revive the peace process. It opened up new possibilities, and, at first,
it seemed that the get-together would make all the difference.
peace accords started to circle, were discussed, dismissed, and evaluated again.
But could Bush's proposed Road
Map (see chart below) be the right answer to end decades of mistrust
and violence? Could the unofficial Geneva
Accord, a blueprint for a permanent status agreement, signed in October
2003 by prominent Palestinian and Israeli intellectuals and former politicians,
restore trust in the region?
the resignation of the first Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud
Abbas (a.k.a Abu Mazen), on Sept. 9, 2003, and Israel's determination
to eliminate Hamas, the envisioned peace road turned into a bridle path. "Abu
Mazen made a fatal mistake, which sealed the fate of his 100-day leadership,"
commented Tel Aviv's centrist Yediot Aharonot. "As a patriot and a
leader, he had the courage to tell the Palestinian people the truth."
The Road Map
I (was to be carried out immediately):
PA: End terror and violence; normalize
Palestinian life; build Palestinian institutions.
Israel: dismantle settlements
erected since March 2001; freeze settlement
activity; make efforts to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians.
II (was to be completed by December 2003):
Transitioncreate an independent
Palestinian state with provisional borders.
III (was to be completed by 2005):
Permanent status agreement and end
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Settle outstanding issues (return of Palestinian
refugees and the final status of Jerusalem).
June 29, 2003, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah (by direct order of Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat)
declared a temporary cease-fire
(hudna) with Israel. But it collapsed on August 12, when Fatah and Hamas
carried out suicide bombings in Rosh Ha'ayin, and, hours later, near the entrance
to Ariel (a large settlement in the West Bank), killing two Israelis. Hamas
claimed that the attacks hadn't been coordinated between the two militant groups
and denied that they marked the end of the cease-fire. Islamic Jihad had already
broken the hudna on July 7, by killing a 65-year-old Israeli woman inside
on Aug. 19, 2003, a suicide bombing on a crowded bus in Jerusalem killed 23 Israelis,
including six infants and children, and injured more than 100, among them 40 children.
Hamas took responsibility for the attack. Israel declared all-out war on Hamas.
It began eliminating its leaders one by one, and debated whether to deport Arafat,
because, according to Yediot Aharonot (Sept. 7), "[Arafat] led, and
is leading, his people from chaos to chaos, from pain to suffering, because only
under conditions of destruction and pain can he be sure that the Palestinians
will look to him as a god, a savior, and the sole keeper of the seal."
March 22, 2004, Hamas' founder and spiritual leader Sheikh
Ahmed Yassin, dubbed by Israelis the "Palestinian Bin-Laden,"
was killed in an Israeli missile strike.
to Israeli authorities, Yassin had been responsible for 425 suicide attacks since
October 2000 that killed 377 Israelis and injured 2,076.
vowed, "to open the gates to hell" in revenge. On April 17, 2004, Israel
killed Yassin's successor, Abd
Sept. 11, 2003, the Israeli security cabinet decided to expel Arafat, and stated
that the chairman was "a complete obstacle to any process of reconciliation
between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel [would] work to remove this obstacle
in a manner, and at a time, of its choosing."
word leaked that the Israeli government had also considered killing Arafat. Again,
Israel came under harsh criticism, especially from the U.N. Security Council.
The conservative English-language Jerusalem Post was the first Israeli
newspaper to officially endorse assassinating Arafat. In their editorial (Sept.
10) the editors argued: "The world will not help us; we must help ourselves.
We must kill as many of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders as possible, as quickly
possible, while minimizing collateral damage, but not letting that damage stop
us. And we must kill Arafat, because the world leaves us no alternative....Killing
Arafat, more than any other act, would demonstrate that the tool of terror is
unacceptable, even against Israel, even in the name of a Palestinian state. Arafat
does not just stand for terror, he stands for the refusal to make peace with Israel
under any circumstances and within any borders."
Israeli public seemed to favor ousting Arafat once and for all. According to a
Yediot Aharonot poll, published in the paper on Sept. 12, 37 percent of
the polled Israelis wanted to see Arafat killed, 23 percent wanted to see him
expelled, 21 percent wanted to continue to isolate him, and 15 percent wanted
to see him released and negotiations to continue.
Mazen's successor, handpicked, yet again, by President Arafat, was Ahmed
Qureia (left), a.k.a Abu Ala, the man who represented the Palestinians
in the secret meetings with Israeli politicians in Oslo in 1993 that culminated
in the historic Oslo Accords. But shortly after Arafat swore him in on Oct. 7,
2003, Qureia hinted that he was already on the verge of quitting.
Wants Out: Quagmire in Gaza
May 2004, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposed unilateral
disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of some Jewish
settlements in the West Bank was rejected by his own Likud Party in a non-binding
confidence vote on May 2. On April 14, U.S.
President George Bush had met Sharon's plan with approval and had
also called the Palestinian refugees' right of return to what is now Israel and
the evacuation of Israeli population centers in the West Bank "unrealistic."
the end, however, 59.5 percent of Likud members voted against the plan, in what
could become Sharon's most humiliating moment in his career. Only barely 40 percent
showed up for the vote. In stark contrast, roughly 60 percent of the general public
in Israel is in favor of a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.
(At the end, however, the "Gaza Disengagement Plan" was approved by
the government and the evacuation began on Aug. 15, 2005. At that point, 62% of
the public was in favor of the plan and 31% were opposed to leaving the Gaza strip
(Yediot Aharonot opinion poll, July 2005).
was determined that Israel leaves the Gaza Strip by the end of 2005, with or without
support from his coalition. He even would be willing to bring the Labor party,
under Shimon Peres, into the government. And indeed, in December 2004, a broad
government was formed, with Shimon Peres as deputy prime minister. The path to
leave the Gaza strip as planned seems now cleared.
Aviv's mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot defined the results of Likud's
referendum as "an earthquake" and said that the magnitude of Sharon's
defeat was a political fact that cannot be denied. "If Prime Minister Sharon
wants to keep the disengagement plan alive, he will have to face a head-on clash
with most of his party." The paper decried "Sharon's arrogance and irresponsibility
the current political stew has burned the pot, room for new and unexpected political
groupings is reopening
.The unification of forces that agree on the 'land
for peace' formula into a large political alignment will force those who champion
'don't uproot that which has been planted' to find a new political home for themselves."
refuted allegations that he considered resigning. His "disengagement plan
lite," as it is referred to in Israel, will now encompass two, not four,
settlements in the West Bank and only three settlements in the Gaza Strip.
the day of the vote, Palestinians gunned down a pregnant mother and her four
daughters in Gaza.
May 15, more than 150,000 people attended a peace rally at Rabin Square in
Tel-Aviv under the slogan Leave GazaStart Talking. The event
began with a minute of silence for the 13 Israel soldiers killed in Gaza
that same week. Israel is still trying to locate some of the remains, which were
taken by Palestinians after the assault.
its May 17 editorial, Tel Aviv's liberal Ha'aretz noted on the peace rally
in Tel Aviv: "The lesson to be learned from the mass demonstration...is that
a wide swath of the Israeli public is hoping for a change in our relationship
with the Palestinians and does not accept Likud members' decision to reject the
disengagement plan. This message fits with Ariel Sharon's stated intent to bring
the plan, in a new guise that does not change its substance, to the cabinet for
approval in another two to three weeks....Public responsibility and political
wisdom both obligate the Likud and its leaders to listen to the public's deepest
feelings, to grasp the dimensions of the opposition to Israel's continued presence
in the Gaza Strip and Gush Katif and to give impetus to the prime minister's initiative
to withdraw from these areasand thereby effect a major change in the conflict
with the Palestinians. If the Likud's ministers...do not understand this by themselves...,
they will reach the necessary conclusion in another way: by observing the growing
list of the fallen in Gaza and the public outcry that it elicits."
Paralyzed Arafat and Anarchy in Gaza
Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat has started crumbling. With corruption
pervading at all levels of the Palestinian Authority, we don't see any reason
for its continuation in power. The Palestinians themselves have started questioning
the need for its existence. Arafat and other members of the Palestinian Authority
are not willing partners in the Middle East peace process.
the contrary, they have become a burden on the Palestinian issue and Arab countries,
especially Egypt, Jordan and Palestine itself. Arafat has invested the blood of
Palestinians for his personal benefits
It won't be possible for us to gain
from the Middle East road map for peace if this man remains in power." (July
The Arab Times, Kuwait
2004 brought anarchy to the Gaza Strip amid what amounted to the worst leadership
crisis within the Palestinian Authority (PA). Ariel Sharon's declaration that
Israel would leave the Gaza Strip unilaterally next yeareven against the
wishes of members of his own governing coalitionthrew the PA into turmoil
much earlier than expected.
would an Israeli pullout leave Gaza? Palestinians found themselves scrambling
to face up to the rampant corruption within the PA and its security forces, which
are all under the wing of one manthe
Ra'is, Chairman Yasser Arafat.
did his predecessor, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia submitted his resignation
to Arafat, on the grounds that the prime minister's position had an extremely
narrow mandate, without any clout and real authority to introduce political changes,
combat corruption and execute greater control over the PA's security forces (which
are controlled by Arafat).
July 16, the PA declared a state of emergency. On July 20, Arafat refused to accept
Qureia's letter of resignation.
The government was left in limbo. Arafat
refused to cede his absolute power.
On July 21, the Palestinian Parliament
voted 43 to 3 in a non-binding measure, urging Arafat to accept Qureia's resignation.
The vote amounted to a highly unusual move by the parliament against its chairman,
Arafat, and a challenge to his dwindling authority.
sides were locked in a stalemate. Government officials were kidnappedamong
them, on July 16, Gaza's police chief Ghazi al-Jabali, who was later released,
unharmed. Legislators, critical of Arafat, were physically attacked. To top it
all off, the people of Gaza took to the streets, fed up with the government's
cronyism and demanded that the PA clean up its act. The protests were sparked
after Arafat appointed on July 17 his nephew Musa Arafat as new head of
Gaza's security forces, replacing al-Jabali. Musa, too, is widely known as being
corrupt; his appointment was met with disbelief and anger.
July 27, Qureia rescinded his resignation after Arafat granted him limited powers
to carry out reforms and agreed to investigate corrupted officials. The prime
minister promised "actions on the ground." Qureia's authority, however,
would be limited to the internal security forceswhile Arafat would retain
control over the bulk of the security personnel: the intelligence service and
the armed forces.
stubbornly refused adjusting to the democratization of the PA. Last year, he reluctantly
accepted pressures from abroad and from within the PA to create the prime minister's
post, which was first filled in June 2003 by Mahmoud Abas (Abu-Mazen) and in September
2003 by Qureiaafter Abu Mazen's resignation in protest of Arafat's strong
influence over the prime minister's post.
denied the possibility that it might get involved in the internal quarrels of
the PA. "This time, it's entirely the PA's emergency situationnot ours,"
wrote Yael Gvirtz in Tel Aviv's centrist Yediot Aharonot (July 18). "Israel
is better off sitting quietly at the sidelines and not enter the internal battlefield
of the PA."
Israel also realized that the latest events could leave a power vacuum that would
give way to the emergence of new militant Islamist groupsalongside Hamas
and Islamic Jihadmaybe connecting the Palestinian question in Gaza with
the events happening in Iraq. It seemed that the PA was in real danger of collapse,
and the internal turmoil could have easily spread over into the West Bank. Sharon
is now determined as ever to go ahead with the Gaza pullout as soon as possible.
The events in Gaza were, and still are, proof to him that there isn't anyone to
talk to in Gazaand that there isn't anything to talk about.
crisis was centering on two opposing groupArafat and Muhammad Dahlan
and his renegades. Dahlan is Gaza's former PA minister of security, who resigned
last year in protest of Arafat's opposition to revise Gaza's security forces.
Ever since, Dahlan had been one of Arafat's most vocal critics and he has become
the head of the opposition, advocating free elections within Fatah (the political
wing of the PA), as well as sweeping reforms.
front of our eyes, Sharon's dream is coming true," wrote Nachum Barnea in
an op-ed on Yediot Aharonot's front page (July 18). "The Palestinian
Authority is losing its last bit of authority. Arafat is still wiggling a little,
but his followers are fleeing in all directions. As Winston Churchill once said:
'This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps,
the end of the beginning' [as part of a speech given on Nov. 10, 1942]."
of United Nations Member States' Language in Relation to Israel and Palestine
as Evidenced by Resolutions in the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly,
published by the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom (UNA-UK),
Israel Killed Ahmed Yassin," Israel Foreign
Security Council Resolution 1515 (November 2003), endorsing the road map
official statement on U.N. Resolution 1515
to Mideast Peace Process, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Foreign Affairs: Key Documents
information on the Geneva Accord and full text (in Hebrew)
the Geneva Accord: "Accord
Offers Best Chance for Peace," by Jimmy Carter, Nov. 3, 2003
a Middle East Peace, April 2003
Map Unveiled, Assailed, May 2003
Map Revived, June 2003
(World Press Review)
and the Palestinians" (BBC)
of the Mideast Conflict (BBC)
and Facts: A Guide to the Israeli-Arab Conflict (Jewish Virtual Library)
Arab-Israeli Conflict (International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism)
Road Map in Hebrew (Ha'aretz)
of the Speeches Held at Aqaba (Ha'aretz)
of Conflict" (CNN Special Report)
Nations: "Question of Palestine" Resolutions/Analyses on the Mideast
conflict and the road map
on the Road Map (The Council on Foreign Relations, New York)
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
European Taxpayers' Money: Supporting the Palestinian Arabs, A Study in Transparency",
reactions to Abu Mazen's speech at Aqaba (The Middle East Media Research
of recent terrorist attacks in Israel (Anti Defamation League, New York)
and Israeli Fatalities Sept. 27, 2000Aug. 12, 2003 (International
Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism)
ReleaseVeering Off the Road Map" (Eli Kazhdan, Jerusalem Center
for Public Affairs)
Security Council Resolutions (U.S. Department of State)
General Assembly Resolutions 1947 and 1948 (U.S. Department of State)
Separation As Road Map Insurance"
(Gerald M. Steinberg, Jerusalem
Center for Public Affairs)
Borders For Israel"
(Dore Gold, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Map of Israel
"Frontline" "Israel's Next War?"
on Israel's most right-wing settlers, on the eve of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.
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