Reprinted from The Jerusalem Post

Reconsidering The Past

By Yosef Goell

(November 27) - There is at least one point on which the left-wing doves are right: A mere escalation of the Israeli military response to the Palestinian attacks and "permitting the IDF to win" will not solve the problem.

Where they are totally wrong is in their insistence that a return to negotiations on the basis of magnanimous Israeli concessions, a la Camp David 2000 plus, will provide such a "solution." It stands reiteration ad nauseam that deeply embedded national conflicts of the sort we have with the Palestinian national movement have no "solutions." The best one can hope for is the sort of managed, restrained antagonism we have had with Egypt for the past 21 years, as evidenced by the withdrawal of the Egyptian ambassador last week.

A cursory worldwide check shows that real national conflicts are not amenable to compromise. Their intensity can be made to abate until, hopefully, they gradually fade over many generations and centuries.

The one exception I can think of is the relationship between Germany and France at the end of World War II. The ability to progress to a "solution" in that case was made possible by the near total destruction of Nazi Germany in 1945 and the massive suffering that several generations of British, French, Germans, Poles and Russians had undergone during the first half of the 20th century. This forced the leaders of both parties to look for imaginative and magnanimous solutions.

We are not in such a situation. In considering our next steps it is essential first that we jettison the lie that what we are involved in is a "peace process" and a "historic reconciliation" between the two peoples who inhabit this land. The late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and his fellow converts may have believed that these self-delusions and outright lies were necessary to sell an unpalatable agreement to the Israeli public. But lies remain lies, and are eventually uncovered by dramatic events.

This does not mean that we can or should resort to military and economic repression of the Palestinians. But it does mean that in the absence of any prospects for a "real peace," all concessions and agreements should be judged in light of the assumption that the violence will continue for a long time to come.

It is essential that Prime Minister Ehud Barak make the mental leap from his reiterated insistence that we teach Arafat that he has gained nothing from resorting to violence to a determination that before negotiations are resumed Arafat and the Palestinians learn that they have lost, and lost profoundly.

This means not returning to where we left off at Camp David four months ago, but to Oslo 1993.

One of the main arguments in support of taking the present opportunity to retract the excessive Israeli concessions of the past seven years was an off-hand remark on a television interview last week by the deputy head of the national security council, Maj.-Gen (res.) Gideon Sheffer. He blithely pointed out that in the present intifada, Arafat has not put into use the gigantic stockpiles of arms he has amassed in contravention of his Oslo commitments. This means he is saving up for the likelihood of many future intifadas, whenever he or his imminent successors are frustrated at the negotiating table.

Israel's demand that the Palestinians hand over those illicit arms stockpiles will most likely be met by derisive laughter. But two can - and should - play at that game. At the present time, Israel must take speedy action to make two points: rescinding some of the territorial concessions to Area A which are under total Palestinian jurisdiction and the right to hot pursuit after terrorist perpetrators in Area A.

The best place to carry out a rollback would be in the Jordan Rift Valley. Israel should reoccupy the entire valley, including the town of Auja, with the exception of the tiny enclave of Jericho.

Once those points have been made it should be possible to return to renegotiating the implementation of the Oslo principles of mutual recognition on a much more realistic basis.



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