The Jerusalem Post, Jun. 3, 2003


By Arthur Cohn

It seems to me and many other Jews abroad that the latest developments in the political scenery of the Middle East reflect an enormous victory for terror, and for Yasser Arafat personally. While in the Oslo Accords all the difficult questions Jerusalem, refugees, settlements were to be discussed after a lengthy process, and before the establishment of a Palestinian state, now suddenly a provisional state will be proclaimed before the main issues are resolved. Even before a Palestinian state comes into existence, Israel has to dismantle "illegal" outposts and curtail expansion of settlements, even for natural population growth.

How can it be that the main issues will be discussed only after a Palestinian state is proclaimed and recognized by the international community?

What has Israel then to offer in exchange for a final settlement?

As usual, the Palestinians promise to fight terror. That is exactly what Arafat committed himself to in 1993, as it was the main Israeli goal of the Oslo Accords.

Does anyone really expect that the initiators of the road map (Europe and the UN Israel's "old friends") will really insist on the full elimination of the terror infrastructure? Nor is it likely that Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) will arrange even a temporary armistice until a Palestinian state is established. Afterwards, expect him to allow a fresh wave of terror to be launched from a much better position to bolster further Palestinian demands.

Arafat endeavored for years to internationalize the Arab-Israel conflict, knowing full well the advantage such a step would bring, given the UN and the EU's anti-Israel bias. There is no question that he has now succeeded. The involvement of the international community in this new peace process is frightening.

It is also regrettable that this type of road map could get America's approval. It is a plan that does not hold the Palestinians to any clear requirements. They are not even expected to put a full stop to the incitement in their schoolbooks and media. Moreover, there is not even a clear demand that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized.

From a Diaspora perspective, it is difficult to understand how the Israeli government, working closely with President George W. Bush and his top advisors, couldn't find a way to influence the road map to avoid its terrible shortcomings.

And one asks oneself: How is it possible that after its energetic anti-terrorist moves in Afghanistan and Iraq, America could reward terror in the Israeli-Arab conflict?

For years, Arafat never mentioned the word "peace" in Arabic in connection with Israel. It seems that he and his successors aren't expected to use it in the future, either. The basic elements of a real peace are entirely lacking in the road map, which is simply an international dictate for a political agreement that does not require of the Palestinians any true readiness for peace with Israel.

As the prestigious Swiss newspaper Neue Z rcher Zeitung recently commented, "The present plan toward peace in the Middle East could be a recipe for a new disaster."

During the 55 years of Israel's independence, many bad peace proposals have been made but not realized. This one is fundamentally different. The road map is being advocated by powerful international forces the UN, the EU, Russia, and the US and what is even more important and, unbelievable as it may sound, it has been accepted by the Israeli government.

The writer is a film producer based in Switzerland whose films include The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Central Station and One Day in September.

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