FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Meaning of Annapolis

by Col. DAN SMITH

“An occupying army cannot expect to find friendsbut [it must] give the uninvolved population every opportunity to have some kind of a quality of life.”

MGEN Yair Naveh (Ret.), Israeli Defense Force, Defense News

Last week, as participants in the latest international peace conference on Israel- Palestine prepared to wend their way to Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, in Tel Aviv senior Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officials were wrapping up a three-day headquarters exercise focusing on urban terror. Media reports said the drill was the largest in eight years to test reactions to and prevention of terror incidents.

The IDF “won” the exercise, which should have heartened Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after the debacle in summer 2006 when Hezbollah stood its ground in southern Lebanon against attempts by the IDF to break the back of the U.S. – designated terror organization. Nonetheless, “unidentified sources” who participated in the drill concluded–again–that this type of warfare is extremely costly, people-intensive, and highly interactive with the local population.

Albeit unstated, the results also pointed to the need for political, economic, and environmental action to reduce and if possible eliminate the causes of terror.

Such results, if they were conveyed to Prime Minister Olmert, would have been in line with his state of mind as he prepared for Annapolis. On November 4, he spoke publicly about the coming summit, invoking the memory of Yitzhak Rabin whose courageous steps in the 1990s toward finding a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians was cut short by an Israeli settler’s bullets.

Olmert also spoke of Bill Clinton’s 2000 summer-autumn effort to find a breakthrough–which collapsed, and even of Ariel Sharon’s 2005 unilateral “Disengagement” plan. In the end, Olmert said the goal must be “two states for two peoples” and that he would not entertain any negotiation about “the right of existence for the State of Israel as a Jewish state.”

This phraseology was picked up by President Bush in his opening remarks at Annapolis: “This settlement will establish Palestine as the Palestinian homeland, just as Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people.” And again moments later Bush reiterated the formula: “And the United States will keep its commitment to the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people.”

This emphasis strikes me as unwarranted and unnecessarily divisive — almost amounting to a pre-condition. Palestinians as a whole probably don’t care whether Israel deems itself a Jewish state; their interest is in attaining their own viable, independent, and sustainable homeland.

In his remarks, President Bush read the text of the agreement struck between Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The agreement declares that the two parties will attempt to “conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues including all core issues without exception.” Tellingly, the agreement makes no mention of any of the three “core issues”: borders, right of return, and the status of Jerusalem.

Perhaps the most telling remark from Bush, one which indicates just how much of an uphill fight Abbas faces in the coming months, was on the core issue of borders: ‘Palestinians must show the world that they understand that, while the borders of a Palestinian state are important, the nature of a Palestinian state is just as important.”

For Olmert, what he did not say was as telling as what was said. While he mentioned Jerusalem twice, neither context was the present or the future. Olmert pledged the Israeli negotiators “will not avoid any subject [and] will deal with all the core issues.” He speaks of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, but not UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 194 (December 1948) which speaks of Jerusalem as an international city and of the return of refugees who could be either Palestinians or Israelis who had fled the warfare that engulfed present day Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Although the text of UNGA Resolution 194 does not specify a “right” of return, Israelis do not see it as relevant–a position at odds with the Palestinians. From the Palestinian perspective, too much reliance on UNGA 194 as the basis for a “right of return” could backfire when the issue is the status of Jerusalem whose “eastern” part Abbas wants for the capital of the new Palestinian State but which Olmert may not be able or willing (or both) to cede any more than he could make it an international city.

Abbas, who spoke after Bush and before Olmert, voiced the bottom line for the Palestinians: “I must defendthe right of our people to see a new dawn, without occupation, without settlement, without a separations walls, without prisonswithout assassinations, without siege, without barriers around villages.”

These are the agonies endured for six decades by Palestinians at the hands of Israelis as well as, somewhat surprisingly, at the hands of fellow-Arab neighbors. Deftly, Abbas turns the recitation of these failures into a mirror that he holds up to Israelis to show them how “occupation” — “our [Palestinian] holocaust that has been running for too long”–has changed Israel and those who live therein. (It is something George Bush should note.)

I wish both sides success.

Col. DAN SMITH is a military affairs analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus , a retired U.S. Army colonel, and a senior fellow on military affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Email at dan@fcnl.org.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail