Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Don't hold your breath

Haven't we been down this road before?

In the last days of the Clinton presidency, Slick Willy thought he had an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Palestine would become a state at last, with full control over Gaza, 94% of the West Bank (also called Judea and Samaria) and custody if not outright ownership of most of the holy sites in Jerusalem. In return, Jews and Christians would have full access to sites not just in Jerusalem but also in Bethlehem (site of the Church of the Nativity) and Hebron (the Cave of the Patriarchs, burial place of Abraham and Sarah among others; and holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians).

By all accounts it was a sweetheart deal. Yasser Arafat, fool that he was, said no.

What sunk the agreement? Stubbornness from Fatah? To a large part, yes. But another factor, I believe, was the huge "Israel lobby" (i.e. Christians who subscribe to the Kingdom Now philosophy), who insist that there is no West Bank, no Gaza; in fact they believe Jordan and the western part of Iraq has no right to exist; they believe it's all Israel. Dominionists also have joined the Armstrongists who support the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Many older than I have a clear memory of 1969 when a disciple of Herbert Armstrong tried to destroy Haram al-Sharif to try to speed up Jesus' return to the Earth.

Abu Mazen, the current President of Palestine, now admits Arafat's stubbornness cost his people dearly, and whatever state emerges, whenever it happens, will be way smaller than what was offered seven years ago. No shit.

So don't hold your breath with this week's talks at Navy. There isn't going to be a Palestinian state anytime soon, not until Mazen can get at least what was offered to Arafat, and that's a long ways away.

Obviously, nothing will ever please some Palestinians; let along Hagee, Roberts and Flurry. But here are some guidelines I'd go by:

1. The borders have to come along or very close to the 1967 ceasefire line. If Israel is to keep any settlement, there has to be a land swap in return; the ideal is to get close to contiguous areas or if that is not possible at least a corridor between Gaza and the West Bank.
2. Fair compensation for dispossessed Palestinians. Giving them their land back is impossible; that would mean the end of Israel. Other countries like Canada may have to contribute to a fund to finance this but it must be done.
3. Full access to holy sites for any who wish to go there, provided they come in peace.
4. Real security guarantees. Once the borders are finalized, Israel just can't execute an incursion when it wants -- that would be considered an invasion anywhere else.
5. The United States must stop subsidizing Israel. The foreign aid transfer is presently $3 billion. No other developed country provides aid to another developed state except in times of a natural disaster -- not even Canada.
6. Iran must recognize Israel. Period. If it will not, it must completely dismantle its nuclear weapons, in return for Israel doing the same (with international inspections to confirm this).
7. Israel must be permitted to nominate judges to the International Court of Justice. Its continued exclusion is complete nonsense. (After all, if the Vatican wanted a seat, it'd get one.)
8. The "Israel lobby" must once and for all pony up to provide housing for their Christian brothers and sisters who just happen to be Palestinians as well. Their current blindness on this key count already condemns them to damnation.

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