Monday, March 26, 2007

The danger in the Saudi Plan

The main danger to Israel as the American "Road Map" plan tends to segue into the Saudi/Arab plan is that basic principles will be set aside for quick results. In the Road Map plan there are specific built-in safeguards that protect Israel at each stage, such as the need for the PA to renounce terrorism at the beginning of the process. But, in the Saudi/Arab plan this is ignored, and the emphasis is of course on Israel making concessions, such as withdrawing to the pre-June 1967 borders and accepting the "right of return" of all the Palestinian refugees.
It will be difficult for Israel to withstand pressure to give up these safeguards, if the US is drawn into an agreement as a result of the up-coming Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia, to accept the principles of the Saudi/Arab plan as opposed to its own Road Map plan. By accepting that there are "positive features" in the Saudi Plan, PM Olmert is setting himself and Israel up for at least a tacit negotiation based on that plan.
Secty. of State Rice spoke well and constructively at the press conference with Pres. Abbas in Ramallah Sunday, but she mis-spoke when after she gave a list of accomplishments (peace between Israel and Egypt and Jordan, discussions on the basis of Oslo and the Road Map, etc.) she then said effectively that noone disagrees with these accomplishments. She is wrong on that count, Hamas disagrees, and Hamas controls the present PA Govt. Also, Iran and its satellite Hizbollah disagree. They are trying to do everything they can to reverse any and all progress. So the idea that there is universal approval of these steps in the right direction, and that all such steps will be in Israel's as well as the Palestinian's favor are deceptive.
What can Israel gain from the Saudi plan, what are these "positive features." The most prominent is that the Arab States guarantee to recognize Israel if she makes these major concessions. But, this requires an enormous step of faith. Would they indeed recognize Israel, would they indeed remain peaceful towards Israel? It is clear that Israel cannot afford to take the steps they demand as first steps in order to gain this acceptance. Better that the Arab States should accept the Road Map plan than Israel should accept their Plan.
Nevertheless, perhaps on the basis of negotiations with them a compromise can be achieved, but not one that requires Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders or to accept the "right of return." For Israel that can only be the starting position. However, it is not beyond human ingenuity to craft compromises that could be acceptable to both sides.


Post a Comment

<< Home