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Friedman Attacks Zionist Colonialists On West Bank But Wants Them To Stay
Source Steve Zeltzer
Date 01/01/05/16:31

January 2, 2001 New York Times

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Three Blind Eyes

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Tne good thing about the creative compromise
President Clinton has put on the table for Israelis
and Palestinians to consider is that at least we now

know what the only realistic final deal looks like: Israel

gives up most of the West Bank, but keeps most of the
settlements and all of Jewish Jerusalem and gets an end to

the conflict; the Palestinians get most of the West Bank,
all
of Gaza, a slice of Israel's Negev desert and all of Arab
Jerusalem, but have to give up Palestinian refugees'
returning to Israel. Now that we know
what the deal looks like, the only question left is: Will
either side be able to take it?

Israel says maybe, the Palestinians say maybe not
although Mr. Clinton will try to change
that when he meets today with Yasir Arafat. But this will
take more than a little persuasion.
Because three issues negotiators have long turned a blind
eye to are now going to haunt them.

The first is the behavior of the Palestinians with their
latest uprising, Intifada II. To listen to
Palestinians, they had to mount this Intifada II because
the Palestinian street just couldn't take
the pressure of Israeli occupation another day. To be
sure, the lingering Israeli occupation of
the West Bank was onerous for Palestinians. But all the
Palestinian explanations ignore a
simple fact: they were dealing with an Israeli prime
minister, Ehud Barak, who was trying to
break the cycle and who, at Camp David, had put on the
table a sweeping Israeli proposal for
a Palestinian state. Violence was not the Palestinians'
only recourse.

But how did Mr. Arafat respond to the Barak offer? First
he went on a world tour trying to
generate pressure on Mr. Barak for more concessions, then
he winked at Intifada II. "The
street made me do it," Mr. Arafat indicated. What Mr.
Arafat never did was talk to Israelis
go to them directly, explain why he needed 100 percent,
and demonstrate to them why, if they
accepted, Israel would be so much better off. Oh, that's
not Yasir Arafat, say his apologists.
He's not Anwar el-Sadat. Too bad. Mr. Sadat got 100
percent for a reason. Why should
Israelis now believe that if they give Mr. Arafat a state
in the West Bank, when he gets in
trouble next time, say because he can't run a modern
country, he won't trigger another
uprising against Israel and say, "Sorry, the street made
me do it again"?

Intifada II has crushed those in Israel who argued that
the Palestinians had made a strategic
choice for peace. So, as Israel mulls the Clinton
compromise, the Israeli opponents of this
deal are now more energized than ever, and the Israeli
advocates of the deal are deflated and
depressed, with a little voice in their heads saying,
"Well, if the Palestinians say they had to
mount Intifada II because Israelis understand only force,
not persuasion, maybe we should
deal with them the same way give them a dose of Ariel
Sharon."

The second blind eye is the one that many Israelis, U.S.
diplomats and American Jews turned
for years toward Israeli settlement activity. The Israeli
occupation of the West Bank began in
self-defense, but it gradually mutated into a traditional
colonial occupation driven at its
core by dangerous religious and nationalist fanatics,
seething with contempt for Arabs. Jewish
colonialism was no different than any other. It involved
the brutal suppression of another
people and the stealing of their land. Some 40 Jewish
settlements that were placed (often by
Mr. Sharon) deep inside heavily populated Palestinian
areas must be uprooted in the Clinton
compromise, but doing so now could trigger civil strife in
Israel.

The last blind eye was turned toward the real political
debate within the Arab world today. In
Israel, virtually every party favors a peace deal with the
Palestinians, and the debate is over
how much to compromise. In the Arab world, the debate is
over whether to compromise
with one group rejecting peace with Israel on any terms,
and others advocating peace with
Israel, but only if the Palestinians get 100 percent of
what they want. So no Arab or
Palestinian leader has prepared his people for the Clinton
deal, the only deal that is possible
a deal in which neither gets 100 percent. Too many Arab
regimes today are frail and
illegitimate, and cannot settle for anything less than 100
percent. They are too afraid of their
own people. Big problem.

The peace process has gotten as far as it did by turning a
blind eye toward these three realities
and by assuming that in the crunch the lure of and
pressures for a deal would overcome
them. Alas, it may be the other way around.

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