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"All right, we'll call it a draw."

I think it's safe to say that Israel -- and the world -- is far better off with Ehud Olmert as that nation's prime minister, and not me.

Much of the world is all abuzz about the latest resurgence of a certain "peace plan" being pushed by Saudi Arabia. It proclaims itself as the "answer" to the intractable differences between Israel and the Palestinians, and much of the Arab world is lining up behind it. There's only two little flies in the ointment, though;

1) One of the "non-negotiable" terms it contains is the Palestinian "Right To Return," meaning that Israel has to accept a potential couple of million new citizens immediately, with full voting rights -- which will be the kiss of death for the nation of Israel. Israel has repeatedly said that that particular notion is a deal-breaker.

2) The whole negotiating process was conducted without Israel's presence, and not one party even pretending to present Israel's case and defend their interests in the negotiations.

Had I been in Olmert's shoes, I would have paraphrased a certain fugitive whose name escapes me at the moment: "They tried me in absentia, convicted me in absentia, and sentenced me to death in absentia. If they can do all that without my presence, then they can carry out the sentence without my presence as well." In other words, if the Arabs are so intent on creating a peace plan without Israel's involvement, then let them implement it without involving Israel.

Olmert, though, actually has responsibilities and more political and diplomatic sense than I. He's taken a better step: he's invited the heads of all the nations who put together this plan to a summit in Israel.

Stripped of all its pretty language, the Saudi plan pretty much boils down to this:

The Israelis concede to remove all settlements in the West Bank, return to its 1967 borders (giving up the Golan Heights and the West Bank), and allow millions of Palestinians to become citizens of Israel. In return, they get "normalized" relations with their neighbors.

The cynic in me translates that as "the next time we go to war with you, we'll have diplomats in Israel to deliver the declaration."

Basically, the Arab League is asking for everything that they've tried to win by war numerous times -- and failed each time. So instead of just trying to take what they want, they're asking this time -- and none too politely.

The latest sticking point is the "Right Of Return," yet another case of the Palestinians taking something from the Israelis and perverting it to their own ends. In Israel, the term means that Jews, traditionally the most persecuted group in history, can always find one place that they will be accepted. For the Palestinians, it's an attempt to conquer Israel by the time-honored process of "one man, one vote, one time." It's little different from their attempts to liken their fate to the Holocaust (which they usually deny happened) or the proclamation of the Temple Mount -- the holiest site in Judaism, site of the First and Second Temples -- as "the third holiest site in Islam" and built two mosques on top of it, and now ban Jews from setting foot on the site. (Funny how Jerusalem is never mentioned, not once, in the Koran. You'd think that if it was so holy, it'd have shown up at least once or twice. It's all throughout the Jewish and Christian bibles.)

Is there a simple, fair solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? One that gives both sides what they want? I think not. But I think it's instructive to look at 1948, when the current situation pretty much got its start. (Yes, I know it's gone on for centuries, but the current status quo can be argued to have started then.)

We often hear about the 800,000 Palestinian refugees who fled Israel as the Arab nations attacked, telling them to get out of the way while they drove the Jews into the sea. After that, they could go back and have the entire region to themselves.

They're still waiting.

This was just the first in a long history of the Palestinians choosing to back the wrong side. Some of the more notable examples are cheering for Saddam Hussein in the first Iraq war (a move that got them kicked out of Kuwait after the war) and rejoicing the 9/11 attacks.

But we don't hear about another 800,000 refugees from the same era. That's roughly the number of Jews who fled Arab nations to the new state of Israel. Do you hear them whining about everything they left behind, about their confiscated properties?

Nope. Because instead of becoming permanent victims, they became citizens. They helped to literally make the desert bloom. As I've said before, they got handed lemons and didn't just make lemonade, they started a lemonade franchise that they built into a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate. Because they refused to become victims.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, became a society of permanent victimhood. This was easy, because so much of the world wanted them to be that. For the Arabs, it gave them a perpetual grievance against the Israelis. (Note that the Arab nations like the Palestinians as a concept, but not as people. Note how not one nation offered them citizenship, welcomed them as brothers, and in fact have killed more Palestinians than Israel ever has.) For the United Nations, it gave them an opportunity to prove how "humanitarian" they are, by settling up refugee camps for them, creating a permanent group of wretched poor they could tend to. And the Palestinians, seduced by this global welfare state, accepted it.

So, just what is Secretary of State Rice doing, offering support for the Arab League's plan? I suspect she's pushing the Churchillian notion of "jaw, jaw is better than war, war," and hoping that they can be persuaded to keep talking and eventually find a solution that all parties can accept.

I'm a cynic. I don't think that's gonna happen. But Rice and Olmert not only have a lot better information than I do, but they're far more experienced in such matters. They might be right.

I just hope Israel follows the classic advice of "hope for the best, but plan for the worst."


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Comments (22)

Olmert has always been hand... (Below threshold)
Robert the original:

Olmert has always been handicapped by being the one that is not Sharon. By the way, the Sharon plan to put in the fence and give away Gaza is looking better every day.

Having utterly failed to govern Gaza and failing to live up to agreement made by the PLO, the coalition government PLO/Hamas will be a great reason for Israel not to make further agreements.

"We gave up Gaza in exchange for recognition and an expectation of peace. As soon as the transfer was done, the Palestinians dropped the recognition part and started lobbing bombs"

Gaza had to go anyway and now Israel has a case.

Netanyahu is looking good for the next government and the Saudi's know they're not getting anything out of him, so that's why the push now.

I'm certainly a pessimist a... (Below threshold)

I'm certainly a pessimist about the long term prospects for lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Jerusalem will always remain the biggest sticking point, with Israel absolutely unlikely to ever give up this historic capital given to them by God. And even though the Koran never mentions Jerusalem by name, Palestinians will not drop their cultural claims to the city that came after the years of the Roman occupation of the region.

Further, the Jewish prophet Ezekiel wrote what would prove be the Old Testament book of the entire history of the Jewish people and Israel, and it ends with a huge future war with Persia(Iran) and it's allies that Israel only wins in a massive bloody war over Jerusalem that kills as much as 2/3 of all mankind on the Earth.(Ezekiel 37-39)

There is little real room in this cold reality to believe that any temporary patchwork of peace agreements will resolve the long term problems between Israel and the Palestinians. Only a final war will resolve this conflict.

Those who believe history a... (Below threshold)
kim:

Those who believe history are condemned to repeat it.
=================================

Paul, I agree with you to a... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Paul, I agree with you to a certainty. This is a spiritual war, like it or not. It will not be solved by words. The hate is strong. Abrahams bastard some who was banished from the promised land went and formed Islam, to put it simply. Abraham son, born or Sarah, started the "father of all nations" in particularly one of the 12 tribes of Judah, Israel. From Israel, came Jesus and thus Christianity. Like it or not, Jews are the chosen people of God according to the bible. This war that is going on now is just a continuation of a family squabble that has been going on for centuries. The reason sensible people do not get this is they are looking at it through their reasonable minds, not through the prism of faith. Things will play out. Persia is the key. Jerusalem is key to the fulfillment of their destiny. This, of course, is put in the simplist of terms. ww

Paul,While I may d... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

Paul,

While I may disagree with you over some of the specifics (and will not debate them here), I agree that Israel will survive any attacks against it for the forseeable future. What amuses me is how Israel's critics always decry the "Jewish Lobby" here in the US, yet overlook the actual words and actions of Israel's enemies.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, bars Jews from entering the land. Yet Israel, who has only one holy site (the Temple, which has not been rebuilt-yet), lets Arabs and Muslims come and go and even become members of the Knesset! What was that someone was saying of the Israeli "theocracy"?

ww, you botched the family ... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

ww, you botched the family tree. Israel (nee Jacob) was the father of the twelve. The descendants of three of his sons (Judah, Levi and Benjamin) are today known as Jews.

As for Persia being "key", ignore the TV holy rollers with their evolving topicality and rapture doctrines.

Rome "which is Babylon" is the key viz. Jerusalem. Obviously, the players are still offstage, and since the occupation of Jerusalem will be an inside job, it's best for the US to steer clear that we aren't implicated.

Another reason to avoid entangling alliances.

Why do you wish to repeat h... (Below threshold)
kim:

Why do you wish to repeat history, oh ye little of too much faith?
====================

Respectfully disagree with ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Respectfully disagree with BryanD. I stand by my assertion. ww

Kim, We're all on ... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Kim,

We're all on the same spaceship so buckle up!

It's gonna be a bumpy ride!

ww, fair enough, but changi... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

ww, fair enough, but changing our "Days" and "Commandments" (which would be a sign of anti-christ) was never effected from Persia. Rome is the key as the counterfeit Jerusalem and seat of God. (VICARIUS FILII DEI, "infallibility", etc.) Of course Persia will be involved tangentially, but so will everyone else.

Don't forget your towel.<br... (Below threshold)
kim:

Don't forget your towel.
===============

Kim: Man, you're a crappy c... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Kim: Man, you're a crappy commentator :)

Where's jhow?

I don't know any racial gro... (Below threshold)

I don't know any racial group can withstand the pressure from Arab neighbouring countries like the Jews. Maybe thousand years of persercution in foreign lands does give them strong mentality!

Israel is here to stay and Arab states are better get used to it!

This "right of return" issu... (Below threshold)

This "right of return" issue has many flies in its ointment. In fact, it's swarming with flies. Any land sold outright by a Palestinian to a Jew since the end of WWII has never been recognized by the Palestinians as a legitimate sale. They want that back too.

This "right of ret... (Below threshold)
This "right of return" issue has many flies in its ointment.

This "right of return" issue is utter horseshit. I think Israel should start claiming a "right of return" on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who have been expelled from Arab lands over the last hundred years. Sauce for the goose, and all that.

There really is a pretty si... (Below threshold)
JD:

There really is a pretty simple solution to this problem.

Israel should tell the Pallies (and their Arab League string-pullers) to STFU otherwise the tanks start rolling, the planes start flying, and the bombs start dropping.

The only language the garden variety Arab understands is shards of metal propelled by explosive charges.

It is long past time that the Israelis be allowed to respond to the Arabs in their own language.

The Hypocrisy of the Arabs.... (Below threshold)
Eric:

The Hypocrisy of the Arabs. Why is it OK to have 50+ Moselem states in the world and not 1 Jewish one?

The world needs to know the truth about the so called "refugee" problem: There were 800,000+ Jewish refugees created by the same war that created 800,000 Arab Refugees, so lets call it even and get on with life.

I also see very little mention of the fact that today there are 1.3 million Arab (Moselem) citizens of Israel. How many Jewish citizens are there in the other 50+ Moselem countries?

Don't ever ask say these things to Jew-Haters. It really makes them angry.

Israel's dilemma is that it... (Below threshold)
cthulhu:

Israel's dilemma is that it is poised between becoming victim to a genocide or conducting one.

Each bombing, each provocation -- each roadmap, treaty, or accord...pushes closer and closer to the edge.

And every time Israel is pushed, they try to find a third way. And this prolongs the conflict.

Ever Again.=======</... (Below threshold)
kim:

Ever Again.
=======

"The whole negotiating proc... (Below threshold)
Melvyn:

"The whole negotiating process was conducted without Israel's presence"
Actually, it's even worse than that. The whole "negotiating" (can you negotiate if there's only one side there?) process was carried out in Riyadh. Israelis are banned from entering Saudi Arabia!
Question: What's more incredible than the Saudis openly mocking the very notion of "peaceful relations"?
Answer: Getting positive press around the world for pretending to do the very opposite.

Update: It doesn't matter if the Israeli in question works for the UN - you're still not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia:
http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60D1FFE39540C768EDDAA0894DF404482&n=Top%2fNews%2fWorld%2fCountries%20and%20Territories%2fSaudi%20Arabia

Saudi Arabia, the biggest f... (Below threshold)
al:

Saudi Arabia, the biggest financial supporter of terrorism, just ahead of Iran, shouldn't be proposing any peace plan.

Watch that new king; he jus... (Below threshold)
kim:

Watch that new king; he just might be a little different. He seems to be aware that much of the kingdoms's oil producing lands are settled by Shia.
======================================




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