Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Arab League on the road

Posted by Ron Coleman on July 25, 2007

The Arab League is visiting Israel with its unworkable plan. But am I stupid for thinking this is a positive development?

And is it possible that Muslim extremism is at least one of the motivating factors, entirely contrary to what one would think?

I’d like to know John Burgess‘s view.


3 Responses to “Arab League on the road”

  1. My view?

    I don’t think it’s an ‘unworkable plan’, first off. But it will require both sides to be realistic about what they want and what they can live with.

    As I wrote in an op-ed piece for Asharq Alawsat with Dr. David Perlmutter, ‘Both sides will have to swallow poison’, that is, accept things they’d prefer not to accept.

    Among those:

    1. Jerusalem will have to be split in some manner. I’d prefer to see it as an international city, with its upkeep the responsibility of an international body. If the Israelis wish to use their portion as their capital, that’s fine. The Palestinians can do the same. Obviously, not exactly the same geography, though. I think even a rotating government could be worked out, with Israelis and Palestinians holding the various positions on a cyclical basis.

    2. Right of Return will have to be heavily interpreted. Land and property that has been in the hands of particular Israelis since 1948 just isn’t going to be returned. That held in Israeli hands since 1967, with questionable title, will have to be negotiated. Those Palestinians who cannot return (i.e., 95% of them) will need to be compensated somehow and from someone.

    3. As a corollary, those Palestinians who are living in refugee camps in other Arab states and who will not be able to return must be given citizenship in those other states.

    4. Borders can be roughly what they were in ’67, but not exactly. History has changed the facts on the ground. The extent of surface area can be approximately met; the exact line on the map may differ.

    Both sides are going to have to give up their dreams (or the dreams of important elements in their bodies politic) of racially pure lands; ‘Greater Israel’ or ‘Greater Syria’; 100% ownership of all lands to which both parties have historic claims.

    Both sides would benefit from a good dose of historic amnesia, too. There are far too many unstated demands being carried into the discussion. These serve only as rocks upon which the ship of statecraft can be driven to founder.

    Not ‘unworkable’, not ‘impossible’, just really hard.

  2. Well, John, I suppose that if you say that the “unconditional” proposal is, in fact, to be considered as relatively generously as you suggest, then it may indeed by “workable.” Which is not to say politically doable. Clearly the biggest deal-killer at all is anything like a literal right of return, unless perhaps Jews are allowed the same in Arab lands — with comparable compensation.

    In other words, this is the stuff of rhetoric.

    “Greater Israel” has been dead for about 20 years, though, John. Have to make that clear. You’ll notice the wall the Israelis built ain’t so Great, after all.

  3. Ron: I know that the Israeli government, as a whole, isn’t going on about ‘Greater Israel’. There are political parties and actors, however, who do rattle on about it. They can, given sufficient popular support of the moment, scuttle reasonable solutions. And there are Palestinian factions stupid enough to present causes for popular support of the moment.

    I’m not at all suggesting that this is going to be easy. But I do think it’s do-able.

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