Please Mr. Scowcroft, no more pointless platitudes about solving Israel-Palestine

If you want credibility it's not a good idea to propose an Israel-Palestine peace plan in the Financial Times. But Brent Scowcroft's latest offering is a waste of space in any case

The Commentator
On 14 April 2011 08:36

Why some people bother getting out of bed in the morning to spout platitudes about the Israel-Palestine conflict is quite beyond us. The latest totally-out-of-synch-with-reality offering comes from Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to US presidents George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford, suggesting a new U.S. led peace plan.

He doesn’t help his credibility by placing his article in The Financial Times -- a foot-stamping, table-thumping bastion of anti-Israeli hysteria if ever there was one. But it is the content, or rather the lack of it, that really has us startled. It’s a four point plan, and it goes like this:

First: Two states, based on the 1967 lines “with minor, reciprocal, and agreed-upon modifications as expressed in a 1:1 land swap… to take into account areas heavily populated by Israelis in the West Bank”.

Second: A solution to the refugee problem “that is consistent with the two-state solution that does not entail a general right of return to Israel and addresses the Palestinian refugees’ sense of injustice”. Compensation would also be provided.

Third: Jerusalem would become “the undivided capital of both Israel and Palestine, with Jewish neighbourhoods under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighbourhoods under Palestinian sovereignty”. A special deal taking account the demands of both sides would be found for the Holy places. 

Fourth: A U.S. led multinational force would smooth over the transitional period in the lead up to the two-state solution, and President Obama would get the Palestinians to agree to “a non-militarised Palestinian state, together with security mechanisms that address Israeli concerns while respecting Palestinian sovereignty”.

Honestly, if this is the best he can do, he really needn’t have bothered.

Most of what he’s suggesting is uncontroversial. And the reason it is uncontroversial is that most of it has been said before, times without number.

In a puzzling sort of way, Scowcroft seems to be aware of this: “Most of the elements of a settlement are already agreed as a result of the “Clinton parameters” of 2000, the Oslo Accords, and the “road map” of 2003,” he says.

Too true. So why don’t we have a peace agreement already? Answer: because the Palestinians rejected the Clinton parameters and opted for violence – in the form of the second intifada – instead.

And why did they do that? Answer: because the acceptance of a two-state solution involving the long-term existence of a Jewish state runs counter to everything the Palestinians stand for, everything they teach their children in their schools, everything they preach to their faithful in the mosques, and everything they tell the opinion pollsters: a comprehensive survey of Palestinian opinion by the Israel Project last November showed 60 percent of respondents agreeing with the proposition that “The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state”; a mere 30 percent agreed that, “The best goal is for a two state solution that keeps two states living side by side”.

Palestinian leaders refuse point blank to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, and most of their people are right behind them.

Any peace plan that does not address this issue as a central obstacle to peace is, frankly, not worth the paper it is written on. And the fact that Brent Scowcroft ignores it completely means that we can safely toss his “peace plan” into the dustbin of history where it rightfully belongs.

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