Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thomas Friedman Should Just Knock It Off

Dr. Aaron Lerner reminds of us of Rabin's Forgotten Speech, his last major policy address where he details the red lines that he established in terms of what he was--and was not--willing to negotiate for peace in the Ratification of the Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement

Here is Dr. Lerner's summary of that speech:
o No Palestinian State: "We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority."

o No return to '67 borders: "The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines."

o Control of Jordan Valley: "The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term."

o Gush Katif as model: "The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif."

o All settlements remain intact during interim period: "I want to remind you:
we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth."

o (During interim period) "The responsibility for external security along the borders with Egypt and Jordan, as well as control over the airspace above all of the territories and Gaza Strip maritime zone, remains in our hands." [emphasis added]
You can see that though Rabin had certain requirements in mind when he joined in the Oslo peace talks, today those requirements are no longer recognized nor respected--and one of those red lines, building in the settlements for natural growth, may be erased before the year is out. One expects positions to change in the course of negotiations, but what has happened is that Israel's specific expectations have been replaced by vacuous assurances that Israel's security needs will be met.

That is not much of a bargain.

It is one of the reasons that Thomas Friedman's op-ed, Just Knock It Off, accusing Israel of acting like a spoiled child, misses the mark:
First — I know this is a crazy, radical idea — when America asks Israel to do something that in no way touches on its vital security but would actually enhance it, there is only one right answer: “Yes.” It is a measure of how spoiled Israel has become that after billions and billions of dollars in U.S. aid and 300,000 settlers already ensconced in the West Bank, Israel feels no compunction about spurning an American request for a longer settlement freeze — the only purpose of which is to help the United States help Israel reach a secure peace with the Palestinians. Just one time you would like Israel to say, “You know, Mr. President, we’re dubious that a continued settlement freeze will have an impact. But you think it will, so, let’s test it. This one’s for you.”
What kind of sovereign country is expected to snap to attention at the demands of the Obama administration? Netanyahu suggested the settlement freeze himself the first time, independently, in order to get Abbas back to the table. Abbas took his sweet time doing so--and without offering anything in return (he already has said he cannot make any concessions)--and now Abbas has declared that Bibi's generous offer is now a requirement for Abbas to negotiate. And Friedman wants to reinforce Abbas's expectation that this settlement moratorium is just coming to him?

Friedman claims that all that Israel can ask is to test Ababs and the PA:
Israel has an overwhelming interest to really test — that is all we can ask — whether this Palestinian leadership is ready for a fair and mutually secure two-state solution.
If that is true, how is Abbas being tested by allowing him to make an offer into a demand? If Friedman is actually serious about testing whether the Arab leadership in the West Bank is ready for a two-state solution--wouldn't it make more sense to see if Abbas puts an end to incitement against Israel?

Of course, the fact that Abbas has not put a stop to inciting hatred against Israel may explain why Friedman has not suggested that for his test. After all, Friedman admits that "Abbas is weak and acts weaker," yet he lets that observation slide while focusing his op-ed against Netanyahu.

Somehow, according to Friedman, a weak leader like Abbas together with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an outsider who is resented as an outsider by many, have put together "a government that is the best the Palestinians have ever had."

The next thing you know, Friedman will be claiming that Abbas is a moderate and a true peace partner.

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Anonymous said...

It is so refreshing to hear you speak out on behalf of Israel and tell Friedman where to go.

NormanF said...

Tom Friedman has been anti-Israel going back to his stint in Israel when he served as the New York Times correspondent there. He advocated Israel negotiate with the PLO long before it entered the Israeli political mainstream. We have seen how well that suggestion worked out.

Twenty years on, he has learned nothing about the Middle East and refuses, like Aluff Benn, the correspondent at Haaretz, to acknowledge its not Netanyahu, who is not seeking peace, but Abu Bluff.

One would think reality would make them a little wiser. No such thing here. And that says it all.