Thursday, November 06, 2003

"Geneva" peace plan building momentum: "Already this 'virtual agreement' is building momentum. The Israeli op-ed pages are full of it; soon the document will be sent to every Israeli household, so that citizens can read it for themselves (an idea inspired by the mass distribution of Northern Ireland's Good Friday agreement). Public meetings to explain the accord have been standing-room only. Among the Palestinians, the indications are similarly positive: when al-Ayyam printed the Geneva text in Arabic for the first time at the weekend, the paper sold out; a reprint is on the way. Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk have shown interest in attending the signing ceremony in Geneva later this year."

"Geneva is not a revolutionary document. It merely takes the solution most assume to be the only one possible - partition of Palestine into two states, one for each people - and spells out the details."

"Proof of the accord's significance has come in the vehemence of its condemnation by Sharon and his ministers. They have denounced it, branding Beilin and friends as virtual traitors for daring to contact the enemy "behind the government's back at a time of war". More serious [?] criticism has come from those who should be allies. Former PM Ehud Barak told me yesterday that Geneva was "the peace of ostriches, a plan that only serves Arafat". For him, signing a deal while terror continues rewards violence: "It is capitulation," he said."

"But the greatest role belongs to the people of Israel and Palestine. For too long polls have shown both sides desperate to make a deal, yet backing leaders who hesitate to do what's needed. Israelis and Palestinians need to break through that paradox. They need to read this agreement, word for word, and then, if they can live with it, demand that the politicians make it happen. Neither side can say any longer that there is "no partner on the other side". Geneva shows there is. All it takes is the will."

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