Global Leaders Call for Action on Arab-Israeli Settlement…….

I admit that one must be an optimist in order to succeed in impossible endeavours, but as it stands right now, there is no one to do business with in the Palestinian Authority. New elections would have to be called, in order for the following to ever have a chance at succeeding.

Brussels / Washington / New York / London / Amman, 4 October 2006: 135 respected global leaders — former presidents, prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers, congressional leaders and heads of international organisations ­– have today joined in a call for urgent international action to comprehensively resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Their statement (full text and signatories below) says there is a “desperate need for fresh thinking and the injection of new political will” if the conflict, “with all its terrible consequences”, is ever to be settled. They say that ideally there would be a new all-in international conference to kick-start detailed negotiations, but that whether or not this can happen soon, there should be:

  • International support for a Palestinian national unity government, with an end to the political and financial boycott of the Palestinian Authority;
  • Talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, on both the immediate issues of mutual security and revival of the Palestinian economy, and on the core final-status political issues;
  • These talks to be mediated or sponsored by the Quartet (UN, US, EU and Russia) — reinforced by participation of the Arab League and key regional countries — who would also initiate talks on the outstanding issues between Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

The long list of names include many of those whom I dare say, do not cause me to be the least encouraged. The only person on the list that I could trust, happens to be a person I have met personally met and talked with on a few occasions, Minister Max Jakobson (Finland). Seeing that Jakobson is included as well as former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, Chairman of the International Crisis Group, does not allow me to dismiss this intiative outright. I will have to put this on the back burner and mull it over for a while. More here. KGS

Update; Tundraman (co-blogger on this blogsite) weighs in with a few observations.

I cannot imagine how such a conference would work in practice, or get anything done. The first problem is that there is a low-grade civil war among the Palestinians. We should ask, “With whom should Israel negotiate, when the Palestinians themselves are fighting each other?” Second, we should ask, “Give a precident for negotiation, without preconditions, with a government that doesn’t recognize one’s right to exist?” And, what would a treat with Hamas mean when they don’t recognize the power of previous agreements? These are insurmountable obstacles.

I guess that the leaders who have signed the declaration see different things in it and thus sign it for different reasons. It is vague enough to allow for different interpretations. The basic, underlying rationale for the vagueness of whole initiative may be the “dilemma with the hen and the egg” – which one is first? At least some of them may simply see that preconditions are not realistic, and therefore they turn the whole issue upside down. A very pragmatic interpretation of the initiative is therefore that

  • (a) it just calls for putting the solving of this conflict high on the international political agenda, and
  • (b) it sees as a GOAL, rather than as a precondition, the “security and full recognition to the state of Israel within internationally recognized borders” and the recognition of all the treaties and resolutions which are listed in the beginning of the declaration (“The outlines of what is needed are well known, based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 338 of 1973, the Camp David peace accords of 1978, the Clinton Parameters of 2000, the Arab League Initiative of 2002, and the Roadmap proposed in 2003 by the Quartet (UN, US, EU and Russia)”.

For them, therefore, it really does not matter in which way the desired end result is achieved, as long as it is achieved. Do they (at least some of them?) possibly have a point there…? End.

I agree that it’s extremely difficult to determine the motives of every signee to the declartion, some perhaps, have a longing for name recognition while others actually want to see closure to the conflict during their life time. Others may simply want to be included in order to help mitigate any damage their abscence might create. At any rate, the document is vague enough to be interpretated in just about any way the signee wants it to be. The fact that the PA is virtually useless as a legal entitey means that a long road is ahead for all parties concerned, before this declaration can even be considered much less used. KGS

Update: Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports that :

Abbas dupes US:
“Recognition” is functional, not inherent

“Abbas: Hamas must recognize Israel,” announced the headline on the lead story in today’s Jerusalem Post. The article went on to report that “PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas vowed to fire the Hamas-led government before the end of the month unless… they accepted Israel’s right to exist. Abbas made his pledge in a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who expressed Washington’s full support for the PA chairman and his Fatah party in their confrontation with Hamas.”

Al Avai adds: [I think this is important… Abbas is the “best” we have, yet he’s still not very good. Did even the PLO ever really change its charter? No. Does Abbas talk out of both sides of his mouth? Yes. Is there a difference between “functional” and “inherent” recognition” vis-a-vis Israeli security? There are no guarantees in any case. At least Hamas says what it means. Rice naturally engages in wishful thinking, hoping to con the original con artists. She did not grow up in the souk, however.]

I remember ME foreign correspondent, Rony Smolar talking about the PLO vote in Ramallah (on whether the PLO should recognize Israel), not a single representative interviewed afterwards could pin down exactly what was voted on, everyone had a different story to tell, or none at all. This was of course after months of intense pressure from the Clinton administration (and Yitzak Rabin) to firmly recognize the Jewish state before any further steps could be taken. I am still not convinced that Arafat/PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. KGS

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