Reports in the New York Times and Washington Post that the Obama administration is considering presenting its plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have created a lot of buzz and pushback from supporters of Israel.
However, the reports do not address the fundamental question: what would the plan mean for Palestinians and Israelis? In a sentence, it would mean the continuation of a pattern where the Palestinian leadership agrees to major concessions to secure an agreement with Israel, an agreement that would have little basis in international law
The basic outline being talked about is based on the so-called “Clinton Parameters” that were presented after the breakdown of the Camp David talks.
Here’s Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera English’s senior political analyst, on what the “Clinton Parameters” mean:
After US president Bill Clinton failed in 2000 to get Ehud Barak, the Israeli premier and Yasser Arafat, the PLO chairman, to sign a comprehensive agreement at the Camp David summit, he made clear where he stood.
Sharing of Jerusalem; no right of return for the Palestinians; a return to the 1967 borders with mutual adjustments to allow Israel to annex big settlement blocks; and a demilitarised Palestinian state.
That’s how Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security advisor, conveyed them to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius before his meeting with Obama, along with other former national security advisors.
Bishara rightly points out that the terms presented above wouldn’t be “fair or just,” because they would relinquish the “right of return” for Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Nakba, a right “enshrined in international law and international humanitarian law, and isn’t for Obama to deny, nor even for Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO chairman, to give away.”
And a demilitarized Palestinian state? With Israel keeping a presence “in fixed locations in the Jordan Valley under the authority of the International force for another 36 months” and having Israeli “early warning stations” inside the West Bank (as the “Clinton Parameters” state)? That doesn’t sound like an end to the occupation.
Also not considered is the fact that, as Dr. As’ad Ghanem, writing in Haaretz, says, the current Palestinian Authority, with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the helm, “is seen by the Palestinians as an American puppet. His government is not legitimate, even according to the Palestinian constitution.” A Palestinian government with no legitimacy agreeing to an American-imposed peace plan won’t do any good, especially with a Prime Minister who has been sharply criticized for apparently giving up the right of return to areas within Israel.
Helena Cobban, blogging at Just World News, has also criticized the potential Obama peace plan:
Clearly, it’s time for something new. Like taking the whole issue back to the U.N. Security Council where it rightly belongs, and where it should and can be addressed on the clear basis of international law and international legitimacy. No more of this unworkably-complex business of redrawing loopy boundaries around illegal Israeli settlements and requiring millions of Palestinians to simply sign away their rights.