Monday, October 20, 2003

IHT: Willaim Pfaff comes out in support of unofficial peace plan: "The Geneva agreement represents an enormous investment of private time and effort by people led by Yossi Beilin, Ehud Barak's former justice minister, and by Yasser Abed Rabbo, a former Palestinian Authority cabinet secretary and information minister. They decided to complete the near-agreement reached at Taba. The hard parts still weren't settled in 2001, and these people decided to to demonstrate that they could be settled. Here is what responsible people can agree upon, they are saying.

"From Oslo to Taba, settlement proposals all started at the beginning. This seemed logical but proved fatal, since every one of them, including the road map, allocated lengthy periods of time for negotiation - "confidence-building" - eventually leading up to the hard problems. The Camp David, White House and Wye Plantation accords were merely agreements to go on trying to agree. They all postponed the real problems, which allowed the people who don't want a settlement to subvert them.

"The Geneva initiative offers a way out - a slim chance. The Israelis themselves have to make this a point of mobilization to save their country. The Israeli majority, one must remember, still favors a just two-state solution if only they can have it. They must be given international support to make this their solution.

"The terrorist groups don't want any plan because they don't want Israel to exist. The Sharon government and the Israeli right have already called this initiative the result of a "secret and illegitimate relationship with the enemy." They say it is an effort "to pull the rug out from under" an imminent Israeli victory over "terrorism."

"European nations should brush aside their historical inhibitions, and American hostility to European interference in the Middle East, and throw their weight behind this plan. It would be the greatest service they could possibly do for Israel and the Palestinians - and, incidentally, for the United States."

The International Herald Tribune is, I believe, owned 50% by the New York Times and the Washington Post. Thus it is interesting to see the penetration of the peace plan to this point.

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