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Reply #121: Thank you for posting the links. My concern is this, when you said [View All]

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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-22-09 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #116
121. Thank you for posting the links. My concern is this, when you said
earlier to the Democracy Now interview: "I did read the exchange, BTW, and even if you wish to believe Barak left early due to elections - that's fine."

I am flabbergasted by this, if I wish?? Those words were said by Ben Ami himself yet you believe Ross's version.

Maximalist? demands by Arafat you say, I don't think you read the interview.

*snip from Democracy Now interview:

Finkelstein: Come 1981, as pressure builds on Israel to reach a diplomatic settlement in the Israel-Palestine conflict, they decide to invade Lebanon in order to crush the P.L.O., because the P.L.O. was on record supporting a two-state settlement. As Dr. Ben-Amis colleague, Avner Yaniv, put it in a very excellent book, Dilemmas of Security, he said, The main problem for Israel was, and now Im quoting him, the P.L.O.s peace offensive. They wanted a two-state settlement. Israel did not. And so Israel decides to crush the P.L.O. in Lebanon. It successfully did so. The P.L.O. goes into exile.

Along comes Israel with a clever idea. Mr. Rabin says, Lets throw Arafat a life preserver, but on condition. And Dr. Ben-Ami puts it excellently, that the P.L.O. will be Israels subcontractor and collaborator in the Occupied Territories, and Im quoting Dr. Ben-Ami, in order to suppress the genuinely democratic tendencies of the Palestinians. Now, its true, exactly as Dr. Ben-Ami said, that Israel had two options after the Iraq war. It could have negotiated with the real representatives of the Palestinians who wanted that full two-state settlement in accordance with the international consensus, or it can negotiate with Arafat in the hope that hes so desperate that hes going to serve as their collaborator and subcontractor in order to deny the Palestinians what theyre entitled to under international law.
The Israelis chose Arafat, not only because Arafat himself was desperate. They chose him because they thought he would deny them what they were entitled to. He would suppress all resistance to the occupation. And then, finally, the day of reckoning came with the Camp David talks. It turned out Arafat was not willing to make those concessions to deny Palestinians what their rights were under international law, and I think thats where the impasse occurred at Camp David and at Taba.

snip* Ben Ami:
As far as the second part of Dr. Finkelsteins presentation is concerned, I agree. It is based on what I say, and the only thing I would add to it is that international law was the last or the least of Arafats concern. He didnt give a damn about international law. It was not whether or not the agreement was based on international law or not that concerned Arafat. In my view, this is my interpretation of a man I met many, many times. I might be wrong, obviously, but this is my firsthand interpretation of this man. He was morally, psychologically, physically incapable of accepting the moral legitimacy of a Jewish state, regardless of its borders or whatever. Arafat was incapable of closing or locking the door of his endless conflict between us and the Palestinians. And this is the bottom line.

I mean, in Taba, it had nothing to do with international law. In Taba, what happened was that Arafat really believed that Bush son is a replica of Bush father, and Bush father was known in the Arab world as more friendly, or at least partially deaf to Jewish concerns. This was his image in the Arab world. I remember a visit I made to President Mubarak. After we left office, I said Everybody speaks about military intelligence, Mr. President, but we all failed in our political intelligence. You wanted the election of President Bush. We wanted the election of Al Gore, and then we ended up with the most friendly president to the state of Israel ever in the White House. So this was the conviction of Arafat, that he can still get a better deal from President Bush. His concerns were of a political nature more than anything else, and this is where he failed again, because Arafat had always a sense of somebody who knows everything. I mean, he thought of himself as a great strategist, and this is where he failed time and again, and he betrayed the cause of his own people, because at the end of the day, today, the Palestinians are becoming the second Kurds of the Middle East, a nation that is moving away from the chances of having a state.

SHLOMO BEN-AMI: Yes, Hamas. I think that in my view there is almost sort of poetic justice with this victory of Hamas. After all, what is the reason for this nostalgia for Arafat and for the P.L.O.? Did they run the affairs of the Palestinians in a clean way? You mentioned the corruption, the inefficiency. Of course, Israel has contributed a lot to the disintegration of the Palestinian system, no doubt about it, but their leaders failed them. Their leaders betrayed them, and the victory of Hamas is justice being made in many ways. So we cannot preach democracy and then say that those who won are not accepted by us. Either there is democracy or there is no democracy.

Lets now turn to, just quickly, the last issue. Its going to be hard for a lot of your listeners, because even though I have read two dozen books on the topic, I keep getting things confused. Camp David accord talks are in July 2000. Clinton parameters are roughly December 23rd, 2000. Taba, in January 2001. Now, Dr. Ben-Ami says Camp David, I can understand why the Palestinians turned down. Unfortunately, in his book he keeps referring to Arafats unyielding positions, even though now he acknowledges Palestinians made concessions at Camp David. In fact, as I said, all the concessions, within the framework of international law, came from the Palestinians.

Lets now turn to those Clinton parameters. Dr. Ben-Ami accurately renders their content. I dont think he accurately renders in the book what happened. He states in the book that at Taba, Israelis accept excuse me, at the time of the Clinton parameters, the Israelis accepted the Clinton parameters. Arafat didnt really accept the Clinton parameters. He said he did, but he didnt. What actually happened? What actually happened was exactly as what was announced by the White House spokesman on January 3rd, 2001, the official statement was both the Israelis and the Palestinians have accepted the Clinton parameters with some reservations. Both sides entered reservations on the Clinton parameters. Dr. Ben-Ami leaves out in the book both sides. He only mentions the reservations by the Palestinians.

Wait, one last point. One last point. Dr. Ben-Ami left out another crucial point in his account. He doesnt tell us why Taba ended. It ended officially when Barak withdrew his negotiators. It wasnt the Palestinians who walked out of Taba. It ended with the Israelis walking out of Taba, a matter of historical record, not even controversial.


Okay, well. You see, as somebody who was a part of those who prepared the Israeli document that was submitted to President Clinton, I can say that the bulk of the document was an expression of our the comparison that we made between our initial positions and what was reflected in the Clinton parameters. It was not a series of reservations. It was basically a mention of the difference, the way that we have gone. This was an attempt to impress the President, more than an attempt to say that these are reservations, sine qua nons. There were no real reservations in our document, whereas in the Palestinian document, there were plenty of them, with the refugees, with the Haram al-Sharif, with what have you. I mean, it was full of reservations from beginning to end. Ours was not a document about reservations, it was a statement, basically, that said these were our positions, this is where we stand today. we have gone a very long way, we cannot go beyond that. This was essentially what we sent.

Now, with regard to Taba, you see, we were a government committing suicide, practically. Two weeks before general elections, the chief of staff, General Mofaz, who is now the Minister of Defense, comes and in a I say that in the book in something that is tantamount to a coup detat, comes and says publicly that we are putting at risk the future of the state of Israel by assuming the Clinton parameters, and we accept them, we assume them. And then I go to Cairo and I meet President Mubarak, and President Mubarak invites Arafat to see me in Cairo, and I say to Arafat, We are going to fine tune this in a meeting in Taba, if you wish. And then we go to Taba, and we negotiate in Taba. And in Taba, Prime Minister Barak instructs me to conduct secret negotiations with Abu Alla. Within the negotiations, we had the second track trying to reach an agreement, and he even agrees to all kind of things that he was not very open to before that.

Now, this was the end. We saw that we are not reaching an agreement, and we need to go back, even if for the electoral campaign. I mean, we were a week before the elections. I mean, we were practically nonexistent. Our legitimacy as a government to negotiate such central issues as Jerusalem, as Temple Mount, the temple, etc., was being questioned, not only by the right that was making political capital out of it, but by the left, people from our own government. Shlomo Ben-Ami is ready to sell out the country for the sake of a Nobel Prize. This is what Haim Ramon said, one of the labor ministers, so it was unsustainable. We could not go any longer. So, to say that we now the whole thing collapsed because we put a helicopter at the disposal of the Palestinians to go and see if we can rubricate some basic peace parameters on the basis of our negotiations, that they didnt want it, Arafat didnt want it.

Anyway, the thing is that we need to understand that with all frankly, with all due respect for the requirements of international law, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, a peace process is a political enterprise. And there are things that governments can do and things that they cannot do, because if you do things that leave you without political support, then you can do nothing. You can write poetry, not make peace. And we have been writing poetry ever since, because we are not in office. We have been advancing all kind of peace dreams.

It is only when you are in office and you have a political support that you can move ahead. This is the only way that peace is done. We have done our very best. We went to the outer limits of our capacity for compromise without disintegrating entirely our home front, and this is an exercise that Sharon decided not to make, precisely because he learned from our experience.

He said, Listen, we are not going to do that. I am going to be unilateral. I dont believe in negotiations. Its very bad, but this is the lesson that he learned from the sad experience of the collapse of the peace process in the last year of Clintons presidency.(end)

At one point during the interview Ben Ami states: "There is no way there is no way we can fully compensate the refugees and the Palestinians, but we need to do our very, very best to find a way to minimize the harm that was done to this nation."

I hope Netanyahu is listening to that voice. /
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