In any agreement, one expects to find a balance. A balance between value asked, offered, accepted, received. These are pretty much the basic tenets of contract law around the globe. Normally this is for goods and services measured against some financial price tag. Before the advent of stable currencies (oxymoron intended!) barter was king of the day. When discussing peace agreements between belligerents, the concept of balance is not so clearly defined, especially when one is facing defeat, and the other has victory in hand. The Treaty of Versailles in 1918 is an example of a punitive treaty that wounded a national pride that helped a Austrian painter surge to the political leadership of a nation seeking an answer to the unbalance created a decade before. And we all know how terribly that ended for the World at large, and for the Jews in Europe in particular.
Now word filtering out of Egypt, thanks to the Palestinians supposedly leaking information to Associated Press, talks about easing of the blockade on Gaza, possible a water channel through to Cyprus with neutral inspectors ensuring that no weapons enter the area, whilst the seaport is built, reconstruction of Gaza, money flowing to pay the Hamas “government” in Gaza, easing of movement controls through border posts, all benefits the Palestinians want.
The $62 000 dollar question looms like a white elephant in the corner of the room during cocktail hour. What does Israel get in return?
Top of the Israeli demands should be an acceptance by ALL Palestinian parties (yes, all 26 of them must sign), the Israel has the right to exist. A symbolic gesture, but one of huge importance in blunting the teeth of the terror groups.
The disarmament of Gaza would seem to be of paramount importance, or it should be. Obviously such a process would need to be stringently monitored by trustworthy observers, against pre-agreed time frames. The concept of “to be negotiated later” as is being reported from Cairo would be the heights of stupidity if accepted by Israel. If one is dealing with a nation State, there is a governing group who can be held accountable. When dealing with a terrorist group such as Hamas, Fatah, the Islamic Jihad, and whoever feels a religious urge to die trying to exterminate Israel, the water tends to become murky very quickly when the negotiating table is packed away.
I have read Naomi Chazan‘s “Three questions” to Bibi and find them to be couched in a language that is not likely to get a response from anyone, not a meaningful one anyway. My curiosity lead me to read the last 6 months of her blogs, and although clearly well presented arguments and points, preaching liberal ideology when the country has placed its faith in what I measure as a centre-right government, lead by a rather hawkish Prime Minister, is not helpful.
Instead of merely asking Bibi 3 questions and castigating his historical stance on issues, why Ms. Chazan did not pose three solutions, along with her 3 questions, only she can answer. Adding long terms issues to a short term problem, during a cease-fire in hostilities, is tantamount to throwing squibs during Iron Dome reactions to incoming Hamas rockets.
The solidarity shown by Israelis as a nation, since the kidnapping of the 3 lads has been nothing short of amazing. The world’s reaction to events since then, has seen a rise in antisemitism on a scale similar to the 1930’s in Europe. World media has not been unbiased in its reporting, presenting a very slanted version of events…so be it. Israel cannot fight terror by pandering to CNN, Fox, Sky, BBC and whomever else has cameras around the terrorists bases, especially when they only report the actual truth once they leave that area, if ever. Liberal inspired divisions at this critical time empowers the enemy, such divisiveness being seen as home-front weakness. The loss of reputation on the international front is disappointing at most, but is clearly given too much weight by liberals and the “second guessers”.
Another point that should definitely be on the Israeli demand sheet, should be the penalty clauses normally found in contracts. Breaches need to carry a price, a high price. Dispute mechanisms need to be factored in to allow for swift arbitrationally binding decisions on allegations of breaches. this is as important as anything else that Israel receives, because simply put, the degree of confidence in the Palestinians to keep their word, given their factionalised existence, is fairly limited. It helps naught if the PA controls Rafah and the purse strings, and Hamas breaches the truce agreement by firing rockets again, or usurps power in Gaza again. It needs to be clearly understood that it is a one for all, all for one deal. Any breach, penalties kick in until the breach is remedied with punitive actions against whatever group has breached the truce conditions.
To throw a cat amongst the Palestinian pigeons, a demand for their proposed borders for their two state solution should be laid on the table within 12 months. This does not commit Israel to accepting the two state solution, but merely allows the Palestinians to present their proposals, bearing in mind they need to accept that Egyptian and Jordanian Peace Treaties borders are binding on Israel, an honorable signatory to both those agreements. Shift the monkey onto your opponents back. Make it clearly understood, not my circus, not my monkeys.
Much of what i have written above, I learned by closely following the 1992/1993 negotiations in South Africa, which saw a minority hand over control to its sworn enemies, and reading the various books written by the various players in that whole constitutional creation process. The philosophies embodied in that time, are still relevant today, seeking a smooth resolution of a long term problem, with a view to a long terms peace in the region.
In closing, I pray that HaShem spread his protection and grace across the people of Israel in the middle of this time of uncertainty, awaiting midnight Wednesday, hoping for a solution to end the terror.