Chomsky: Do We Face a Real Confrontation with Israel?
Continued from previous page
Some deride the "long-dormant Palestinian fantasy," revived by Abbas, "that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees" (Jackson Diehl, WP, May 29). He does not explain whether refusal to participate in Israel's illegal expansion - which, if serious, would "force Israel to make critical concessions" -- would be improper interference in Israel's democracy.
Diehl also refers to a recent Olmert peace plan of unprecedented generosity offered to Abbas, which he turned down, though it yielded just about everything to which Palestinians might reasonably aspire. Others have also confidently referred to this mysterious plan and its rejection by Abbas. Efforts to unearth the plan have so far been unavailing. The only sources detected in an assiduous search by David Peterson are comments by Palestinians in the Arab media that appear to be part of internal conflict about power sharing, not the usual source for Western commentators. Eliot Abrams dates the plan to January 2009 ( WP, April 8, citing unspecified press reports, while also falsifying earlier plans for which records exist; June 3 response to query about his sources).
If there were any truth to this tale, one can be confident that it would be trumpeted by Israeli propaganda and its enthusiasts here, as a welcome demonstration that Palestinians simply will not accept peace, even the most moderate of them. It is highly dubious on other grounds. For one thing, Olmert was in no position to offer any credible proposal, having announced his resignation as he was facing indictment for serious corruption charges. The alleged plan is also hard to reconcile with the steady ongoing expansion of settlement under Olmert, vitiating even far less forthcoming offers.
Returning to reality, all of these discussions about settlement expansion evade the most crucial issue about settlements: what Israel has already established in the West Bank. The evasion tacitly concedes that the illegal settlement programs already in place are somehow acceptable (putting aside the Golan heights, annexed in violation of Security Council orders) - though the Bush "vision," apparently accepted by Obama, moves from tacit to explicit. What is in place already suffices to ensure that there can be no viable Palestinian self-determination. Hence there is every indication that even on the unlikely assumption that "natural growth" will be ended, US-Israeli rejectionism will persist, blocking the international consensus as before.
It might be different if a legitimate "land swap" were under consideration, a solution approached at Taba and spelled out more fully in the Geneva Accord reached in informal high-level Israel-Palestine negotiations. The Accord was presented in Geneva in October 2003, welcomed by much of the world, rejected by Israel, and ignored by the US.
There is a "land swap" under consideration, but a radically different one. The ultra-right Israeli leader Avigdor Lieberman, now Foreign Minister, proposed to reduce the non-Jewish population of Israel by transferring concentrations of Israeli Arabs (specifically, Wadi Ara in the Galilee) to a derisory "Palestinian state" - over the overwhelming opposition of the victims, to be sure. When first advanced, these ideas were denounced as virtually neo-Nazi - which is a little odd; they were first proposed by Democratic Socialist political philosopher Michael Walzer, who wrote 30 years before Lieberman that those who are "marginal to the nation" (Palestinians) should be "helped to leave" in the interests of peace and justice. These ideas have now shifted to the political center in Israel, and are praised by New York Times Israel correspondent Ethan Bronner, who writes that the left likes Lieberman's "willingness to create two states, one Jewish, one Palestinian, which would involve yielding areas that are now part of Israel" in a land swap ( NYT, Feb. 12) - a polite way of saying that Israeli citizens of the wrong ethnicity will be transferred by force from a rich first world country to "fried chicken."