Saturday, May 18

To Complete the Trilogy . . .

. . . of Middle East related posts, here is an interesting story courtesy of The Volokh Conspiracy and confirmed by the L.A. Times.

Like Volokh Conspiracy reader Jonathan Zasloff, I find it curious that a peace plan closely mirroring the Camp David accord and proposed by Labor Party leader and Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer has been met with silence by the New York Times, The Washington Post and comparable European papers of record. When one of the Times's own columnists drew up a peace plan with the help of an Arab potentate it received pages of ink every day for several weeks, but when a high-profile profile Israeli politician like Mr. Ben-Eliezer "unveil[s] his own peace package that would share Jerusalem with the Palestinians and grant them sovereignty over most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip" (L.A. Times) and advocates "Israeli withdrawal from the "vast majority" the West Bank and Gaza (i.e. 97%+), dismantling of dozens of settlements, maintaining only those settlements close to the 1967 borders, land swaps to make up for territory lost, and giving the Palestinians a capital in East Jerusalem" (Mr. Zasloff, from TVC), they can't muster the energy to hoist a quill to support, criticize or even neutrally report it. Mr. Ben-Eliezer's plan was first made public on Wednesday and I had to learn about it via the blogosphere?

I agree with Mr. Zasloff that something about this doesn't seem quite right (and I don't mean Arafat's chin whiskers):

Why the silence? There's an obvious reason: the international press (particularly the Guardian and the Independent) are heavily invested in the idea that the "brutal Israeli occupation" is the cause of the current war. It's so simple, they say: end the occupation and peace will break out.

When major Israeli political figures essentially offer to end the occupation in exchange for the Palestinians recognizing the right of a Jewish state to exist, but are met with silence and rejection from the Palestinians, it doesn't compute. So they keep telling their readers about how the occupation has caused all the problems and pretend as if the story never happened.

According to this theory, Ben-Eliezer should be a hero now. Palestinians should be praising him to the skies. But they aren't, for a very good reason: They aren't fighting for an end to the occupation. They are fighting for an end to Israel.

There simply is no Palestinian peace movement to talk to. It is deeply embarrassing for the Palestinian leadership to keep rejecting repeated Israeli peace offers because it exposes their true goals. So they just ignore it and hope that everyone else does, too. And thanks to the press, the strategy appears to have worked.

For a local take on the plan, see The Jerusalem Post, which adds that "Ben-Eliezer's plan calls for initiating complete security separation from the Palestinians, with a wall but without setting a border or withdrawing the IDF until a diplomatic agreement is reached along the lines of the Clinton-Barak plan, but more conservative on the Jerusalem issue" (from Lexis, also available on the Jerusalem Post website for subscribers, in a story entitled "Netanyahu: I will defang PA state threat," May 15, 2002).