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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2009 arrow September 1, 2009

September 1, 2009
September 1, 2009: Reports from Jimmy Carter on The Elders and Gershon Baskin from Jerusalem
The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition
Encountering Peace: President Obama: Pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace

Aug. 31, 2009
Gershon Baskin , THE JERUSALEM POST

President Obama's popularity in Israel is at an all time low for a US president. Only 4% of Israelis believe that the president is pro-Israeli, according to a survey published last week by the Jerusalem Post.

President Obama does not face elections in Israel so perhaps he does not need to be overly concerned with this statistic but in order for Obama's Middle East peace plans to succeed, the Israeli public must have a "buy-in".

Israeli society really does want peace, even if at the same time it expresses attitudes which are against making concessions to the Arabs, and in particular to the Palestinians. Israelis - like Palestinians - have lost confidence in peace processes and of hopes that there is a partner for peace on the other side. As the Oslo process lingered on far beyond the dates of the agreements and violence increased, people in the region and across the globe lost their patience and their belief that Israeli-Palestinian peace was possible.

The US position has always been that Israelis and Palestinians have to want peace more than the third parties do. Well, the people in the region do want it, they just don't know how to do it and have lost faith that it is even possible.

The recent reports of increased law and order and economic growth in the West Bank brought a glimmer of hope to the Israeli public, but then came the Fatah convention which was perceived as backtracking to the days of Palestinian rejection of Israel's right to exist.

IT IS TIME to face reality - Israelis and Palestinian cannot do it by themselves. If President Obama is successful in creating the conditions for a renewal of negotiations, they will surely fail soon after they begin. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas will not get beyond the first substantive discussion on any one of the main strategic issues: security, borders, Jerusalem or refugees. It is not because they don't want to - I strongly believe that both Abbas and Netanyahu want to bring peace and security to their people - they are simply not capable of seeing eye-to-eye on any of the main issues.

President Obama will have no choice but to advance the negotiations by putting the US's own vision of peace with a detailed plan on the table. Certain fundamental elements, if included in the plan, will increase the certainty of Israeli public support. The problem, of course, is that these very elements would weaken the support for the plan on the Palestinian and Arab streets.

The following 10 points would bring balance and clarity that could help in ensuring public support on both sides:

1. For Israelis, the key is that the right of return will be to the Palestinian state and not to Israel. Some of the refugees could be resettled in areas that will be part of the territorial exchange in lands that were previously under Israeli sovereignty. There is a fundamental contradiction between the "two-states for two peoples" solution and the right of return to Israel. Acceptance of this principle removes the urgency of the Palestinian declaration that Israel is the State of the Jewish people (which in any event already appears in the Palestinian Declaration of Independence from November 1988).

2. Israeli acknowledgment of its part of the responsibility for the creation of the refugee problem and for the suffering of the refugees is the key to Palestinian acceptance of the right of return to a future Palestinian state. It would be helpful if a group of experts - Israeli, Palestinian and international - worked on designing the language that Israel could adopt to do this.

3. Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must know that they will have sovereignty over the Haram al Sharif (Temple Mount) including the control of access to their holy places. They will agree to accept the limitations on construction, excavations and tunneling if Israel also accepts the same limitations.

4. Israel must have sovereignty over the Jewish Quarter and over the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Security arrangements must be defined and guaranteed in Jerusalem with the development of a bilateral model of security supported by international parties as well.

5. There must be a timetable with clearly-defined benchmarks for implementation. For Israel there must be a "performance based" approach alongside the timetable with the US determining performance accountability and monitoring the schedule for implementation.

6. The creation of a joint (Tri-lateral - Israel, Palestine and US) mechanism for combating incitement and text books is essential. This should begin with an invitation to Washington of the two education ministers.

7. Security concerns must be addressed on both sides of the conflict, since the security of both are co-dependent and intertwined. One side's suffering generates tomorrow's aggressors on both sides. There is no such thing as mutually exclusive security - that is a hoax of the past. Hungry Palestinians means more brutal attacks. Terrorized Israelis means a faster finger on the trigger, and greater likelihood of dehumanizing treatment.

8. Since Palestinian security performance is central to the continuation of the process, the Palestinian security forces must be given the best chance of performing possible, more areas of the West Bank must be placed in the hands of the Palestinian security. It is time for the US to establish a tri-lateral joint command and operations room where Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation can be expanded and monitored at the same time.

9. Gaza is not part of the deal at the present time. The plan should include new government elections for the State of Palestine once it is recognized by Israel and/or the members of the Quartet. Participation in elections should be based on all political parties recognizing the State of Palestine within its recognized borders.

10. Regional support is also essential and the inclusion of Egypt and Jordan, at first, and then additional Arab states will give greater credibility to the plan on both sides.

These ten principles contain the keys for gaining the support of the Israeli and Palestinian streets for the peace plan.

President Obama should not be deterred by the noise that those who oppose peace on both sides make. The majority of Israelis and Palestinians really do want peace and if these principles are accepted, President Obama will be perceived as being pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian and pro-peace.

The writer is the Co-CEO of IPCRI, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information www.ipcri.org
Copyright 1995- 2009 The Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com/

 
"There is a virtual consensus across the international community not just as to what needs to happen, but how...which was not the case a couple of years ago," Tony Blair

 “The Security Council reiterates its commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations built upon previous agreements and obligations. The Council reiterates its call for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders.”-UN Security Council President speaking on behalf of the Council, May 11, 2009




Trip Report by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on the Elders Visit to the Middle East:
August 22-29, 2009
Aug. 31, 2009

Rosalynn and I arrived in Jerusalem before the other Elders, and on Monday we met with Ahmed Tiki, an Arab-Israeli who is a member–and deputy speaker–of the Knesset. He reminded us that 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Arabs:  they hold about 10 percent of the legislative seats, are severely restricted from acquiring additional property or traveling to Palestine, have only six percent of government jobs, and no Arab is among the 600 employees of the Central Bank.


Hagit Ofran, director of Settlement Watch, and her associates in Peace Now, monitor the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. She reported that, despite talks about a "freeze," settlement expansion was continuing apace, which we later observed ourselves.


Former High Court Justice Michel Chesin gave us an interesting analysis of lawsuits and rulings regarding confiscation of Palestinian land and routing of the segregation wall and fence. Some rulings are not honored.


Egyptian Consul General Yasser Othman reported on recent activities of his nation in pursuing an exchange of Israeli Corporal Shalit for a number of Palestinian prisoners, and of efforts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas political factions. He helped to schedule a meeting by the Elders with President Mahmoud Abbas.


Emily Schaeffer, a young American-Israeli human rights lawyer, described some of her firm's efforts to protect Palestinian families from confiscation of their property and other abuses. She especially described a four-year, nonviolent protest in the small village of Bil'in, in which thousands of demonstrators have been involved – Palestinians, Israelis, and people from other nations.


That evening we joined Elders Desmond Tutu, Fernando Cardoso, Ela Bhatt, Mary Robinson, and Gro Brundtland, and CEO Mabel van Oranje. Our purpose was to learn as much as possible about the complex region in order to use our influence to promote human rights and the ongoing peace process.


During the next few days we met with Israeli President Peres, Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, youth groups and civic leaders from Israel and Palestine (with a video conference with Gazans), top officials of the World Bank and U.N. agencies, religious leaders, ambassadors, Israelis suffering from the conflict, experts on Palestinian-Israeli relations, and Israeli business and professional leaders. It was interesting that the most forceful comment from these leaders was "Israel's worst mistake is establishing settlements in the West Bank."


In addition, we visited Yad Vashem (holocaust museum), Qalandia (one of the largest of 600 checkpoints that restrict Palestinian movement), and two villages in Palestine: Bil'in and Wadi Fukin. At the former, about half the town has been cut off by the segregation fence, which remains in place two years after the High Court ordered that it be moved. Across the barrier is an enormous illegal settlement, obviously under continuing expansion. A nonviolent demonstration is conducted every Friday, and we visited the grave of one of the young demonstrators killed by a teargas canister fired into his chest at close range.


The Palestinian citizens of Wadi Fukin and the nearby Israeli village of Tsur Hadassah are working in close harmony to protect their small, shared valley from the ravages of rock spill, sewage, and loss of land from a huge settlement on the cliff above, where 26,000 Israelis are rapidly expanding their confiscated area. It was heartwarming to see the interracial harmony with which the villagers faced common challenges and opportunities.


Our final event was a lively televised roundtable discussion among the Elders and some of the people with whom we had become acquainted during the week. It will be shown on The Elders Web site.


Three of us (Tutu, Robinson, and I) had visited Gaza, and we received current information on the abysmal situation there. The stranglehold has created a walled-in ghetto inhabited by 1.6 million Palestinians, 1.1 million of whom are refugees and receive basic humanitarian assistance from UNRWA. Israelis prevent any cement, lumber, panes of glass, seeds, fertilizer, and hundreds of other needed materials from entering through the gates. This means that no repairs can be made on schools, hospitals, business establishments, or the 50,000 homes that were destroyed or heavily damaged by the assault during January of this year.


However, some supplies come through a large number of tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt in the south. One of our most intriguing discussions was with a young man who leads 24 workers in digging the tunnels. All of them are at least 20 meters deep, just 55 inches high and 40 inches wide, and up to a half-mile in length. The work is extremely uncomfortable and dangerous, but he said, "They are the only jobs we could find."


The all-pervasive abuse of Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza was very disturbing to all of us, but perhaps the most disgusting examples are in East Jerusalem, also part of Palestine.  Three months ago I visited with a family who had lived for four generations in their small, recently-condemned home, and were laboring to destroy it themselves to avoid much higher costs if Israeli contractors carried out the demolition order. On Thursday night we took a gift of food to 18 members of the Hanoun family, who had been recently evicted from their home of 65 years. The Hanouns, including six children, are living on the street, while Israeli settlers now occupy their confiscated dwelling.


The Elders do not represent any government or official agency, and the group is not involved as mediators or negotiators. Before leaving our hotel in East Jerusalem, we sent a brief report of our observations to President Barack Obama, who has assumed the difficult role of leading the peace effort in the region. We pray that someday the harmonious example of Wadi Fukin and Tsur Hadassah can prevail along the peaceful border between the two sovereign nations.

http://www.cartercenter.org/news/trip_reports/elders-middle-east-aug2009.html?printerFriendly=true

   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
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Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
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