Friday, May 22, 2009

Will Obama's Peace Plan Take Into Account That Olmert Is No Longer Prime Minister

Imagine how much easier things would be for Obama is Olmert was still around:
Barack Obama to unveil peace plan in Cairo

US President Barack Obama is expected to outline a far-reaching proposal for a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement in Cairo next month that will flesh out the Saudi-initiated Arab Peace Plan proposed in 2002 in a way that makes it more palatable to Jerusalem but also requires the Jewish state to make major concessions.

Under the Obama proposal, Palestinian refugees would not be permitted to return to Israel, but they would be permitted to return to the Palestinian state that would arise on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Those who continue to reside in Arab countries where they have been largely confined to refugee camps for 60 years would be given citizenship of those countries, ending their refugee status.

On the critical question of Jerusalem, Mr Obama will support the Arab demand that Palestinians be permitted to establish their capital in East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967. However, the walled Old City at the heart of Jerusalem, where the principal holy sites of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are located, would become an international enclave and fly the UN flag.

The Palestinian state would be demilitarised, maintaining a significant police force to keep order but not an army that might pose a security threat to Israel.

The pre-Six Day War borders between Israel and the Palestinian territories would be modified, but only by mutually agreed territorial exchanges, not unilateral annexation.

The proposal was reported by the prestigious Arab-language newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, which is published in London. The paper said the plan would be unveiled by Mr Obama when he gives his much-touted address to the Muslim world in Cairo next month. [emphasis added]
Far be it that I contradict "the prestigious Arab-language newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi," but that's not what Netanyahu said:
Last night I returned to Jerusalem, our capital, from a very important visit to Washington, capital of the United States. It was very important for me to come back to participate in this ceremony and say the same things I said in the United States:

United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem has always been - and always will be - ours. It will never again be divided or cut in half. Jerusalem will remain only under Israel's sovereignty. In united Jerusalem, the freedom of worship and freedom of access for all three religions to the holy sites will be guaranteed, and it is the only way to guarantee that members of all faiths, minorities and denominations can continue living here safely. [emphasis added]
On the anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, MKs from five factions representing both the coalition and the opposition submitted a bill on Thursday that would require a supermajority vote within the Knesset to enact any change to Jerusalem's borders.

Coalition chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) submitted the amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capitol of Israel, Thursday morning. The amendment would require a special majority of 80 MKs to approve any change to the capital's borders.

...The current law requires a simple majority - 61 votes - in order to shift the capital's boundaries. The bill's sponsors argued that the amendment would "fortify the unification of Jerusalem, to ensure its future and to maintain the security of its residents."

Likud Party officials emphasized that the current law defines the area of Jerusalem as the area determined on June 28, 1967, and forbids the transfer of any authority over Jerusalem to any foreign entity - diplomatic or administrative - without a majority approval from the parliament.
Maybe there is a new attitude after all.

We support negotiations and we are trying to come up with a solution for coexistence, but we are done groveling.
Israeli Ambassador Gideon Meir:
There is a new government that was elected by the Israeli people and it is the people who have made it clear that they are fed up. For 16 years we made concessions, giving up land for peace and peace did not come. The key word is negotiation. This means that the two parties talk and both make concessions. But what do we have until now? Israel gave up land and in return all it got was more war, more terror.
We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and we got Iran on our borders through Hizbollah, which is its proxy. In 2005 we pulled out of Gaza and we got Iran there through its other proxy, Hamas.

We Israelis have concluded that we want a different approach and are re-thinking government policy in this regard.
Obama may have thought that with a receptive Olmert, peace was so close that all that was necessary was a firm nudge. Now, however, he is dealing with a Prime Minister who reflects the feelings of a broad swath of the Israeli population that are fed up with making concessions--of being the only ones to make concessions.

We will have to wait to hear what Obama says in Cairo, although elsewhere I read that he did not intend to lay out his peace plan at that time.

But at some point, Obama is going to have to lay out what he is going to expect--to demand--from both Israel and the Palestinians. And that is when it will first start to get interesting.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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