By Aaron Lerner

1. Will the PNC meet to amend the Charter?

No. Members of the PNC will be invited to participate in a meeting of several bodies. While everyone in the PLC and almost all the ministers are also in the PNC the meeting is not described as a PNC meeting, nor is there any indication that a vote will actually take place to complete the amending of the Charter.

2. Is there any commitment on the third withdrawal?

No. Israel's position is worse now. Before Israel alone would determine the extent of the withdrawal, now a joint Palestinian/Israeli committee will.

3. Will the missiles and other illegal weapons held by the PA be destroyed or otherwise removed?

The text of the agreement is not clear on this issue.

4. What happens to the weapons that the PA does seize?

The text of the agreement is not clear on this issue.

5. Will the size of the Palestinian Police be reduced?

Israel will get a list of police but it isn't clear if Israel can exercise its veto option on recruits or if the PA will reduce the size of its force to the agreed limits.

6. Will there be extradition?

No. The PA is only required to "respond" to requests, not honor them.

7. What happened to the security plan?

Israel won't even be advised of the plan - only the US. The US will monitor it.

8. What happens if the PA doesn't honor its obligations?

In most cases, the PA is only required to "report" and the various committees "monitor". There is no clear mechanism for reaching operative conclusions about PA action and acting on those conclusions. [There are already reports from the PA in which they insist that Israel must carry out the withdrawals even if the PA fails to honor its obligations.]

9. Was Pollard really going to be released?

Yes. President Clinton did promise Prime Minister Netanyahu. There was no misunderstanding. Clinton simply decided to renege on the understanding. That is why Netanyahu held off the signing for a number of hours until he folded.

10. Why did Netanyahu fold?

News item: (Ha'aretz 23 October, 1998) US May Hold Up Aid To Israel. The US asked Israel to investigate two incidents during which Israeli soldiers shot at Palestinians, within the framework of the Leahy Act which allows the US to cut funding to armies which brutally violate human rights. This was the first time such an inquiry was made by the US to Israel.

11. Are you claiming that Netanyahu does not have intestinal fortitude?

Yes. That's not to say that he wouldn't jump on a hand grenade to save the lives of others. But there are many ex-officers who would readily sacrifice their lives on the battlefield but won't come close to that kind of risk with their political lives. It should be noted that while in the case of the agreement itself, Netanyahu may have managed to actually convince himself that it is a good deal, the Pollard incident is a clear cut loss.

12. But won't the withdrawals halt if the Palestinians don't honor their obligations?

The Clinton Administration is now intimately involved in monitoring compliance and given its track record will bend over backwards to give the PA a passing grade. Stopping the withdrawals means facing Clinton and Netanyahu demonstrated at Wye that, ultimately, he can't.

13. What is the ramification regarding final status talks and negotiations with Syria?

Netanyahu has demonstrated that he can't withstand pressure - he knows it, Clinton knows it and the Arabs know it.

14. But, in the final analysis, wouldn't it be better for Netanyahu to carry out the final status talks and negotiations with Syria than, say, Ehud Barak?

This is a choice between someone who has already crossed his red lines under pressure and someone whose red lines are far from ideal but have not yet been crossed. Ehud Barak enjoys the negotiating advantage that no one - Clinton, the Arabs or Barak himself - knows what he will do when he faces pressure. Barak enjoys a second advantage: when he reaches his red lines, he can rest assured that the Right will back him without hesitation or political calculations.

15. But if Netanyahu insists on compliance won't he earn the support of his detractors from the Right?

It takes 61 votes to bring the government down and the opposition is only short two votes. Even if Netanyahu convinces most national camp MKs to support him the likelihood is extremely high that at least two will vote against him since, as the Berenstain Bears put it, "trust is one thing you can't put back together once it's broken."


Dr. Aaron Lerner is the Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
POB 982 Kfar Sava
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-9-7411645

[October 24, 1998]

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