Wednesday, May 01, 2002

The Weekly Standard has weighed in with its version of the lie that Arafat's negotiating history demonstrates that he will accept nothing less that the complete destruction of Israel, so it is senseless to negotiate with him. It is true that the late 2000 Barak offer was less awful than the Summer 2000 Barak offer, but it was still unacceptable, regardless of the percentage of the Occupied Territories offered to the Palestinians (not to mention that the percentage of territory numbers bandied about by the Israeli apologists are inflated). Since all the settlements are illegal, why should the Palestinians accept less than 100%, particularly considering the recent (i.e., since 1993) history of what the Palestinians have lost? The late 2000 offer still did not grant the Palestinian state control of its own borders or control of the water under it. What kind of a state would that be? It was not quite as small and broken as the state contemplated by the Summer 2000 offer, but was still a bantustan. The argument made in the Weekly Standard seems to be that the attacks on the Barak offer are being made on the basis of his Summer 2000 offer, and not his generous late 2000 offer, but that is simply not true. Either offer is unacceptable. Any arguments based on Arafat's reaction to the terms of either Barak offer are ridiculous, as neither offer could have been accepted. You also have to remember that by late 2000, the Palestinian attitude towards Barak's bona fides had significantly changed, as they had seen how Barak had allowed Sharon to make his provoking walk on the Temple Mount (and don't forget that the Taba negotiations continued into 2001, when a much more generous Israeli proposal temporarily appeared, and only stopped when Sharon was elected). Until the Israelis stop fooling around making offers they know are unacceptable in order to score propaganda points, they will never get an agreement. If they think Arafat will never accept any offer, why don't they make him an offer of 100% of the Occupied Territories, with control of its borders and water, East Jersulem (which the Israelis need to get rid of anyway, for demographic reasons), a fair treatment of the holy sites, and some form of compensation to be internationally funded to take care of the end of any right of return? After all, if he won't accept any offer, he will turn this one down as well. Only then will they be able to honestly make the argument that Arafat's only goal is the destruction of Israel.