Tuesday, June 22, 2004

 

Why Israel is ready for negotiations

Developments: in the Guardian yesterday, Chris McGreal writes that Shimon Peres is making Labor's joining a coalition government with Likud conditional on developing a broader plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mr Peres told the New York Times: "We will not join the government before we should have a joint plan of peace. Policy before portfolios."

Mr Sharon has refused to talk to the Palestinians, claiming there is no one to negotiate with because the leadership will not combat "terror".
However, a Ha'aretz service report on Shaul Mofaz's view of the recent decline in terrorism reports:
The IDF in recent weeks has identified steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to prevent terror activity. The PA has stopped transferring money to the Fatah's military wing - the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and has been exerting efforts, for the first time in a long time, at preventing terror. The IDF believes this activity stems from an attempt by the PA to assess the situation ahead of the implementation of the disengagement plan.
Does this mean that there is a partner for peace? In a perfect world, the confluence of these factors would allow Sharon to reopen diplomatic channels and begin negotiations that would lead to a peace settlement. However, Sharon is probably not going to do that. Does this mean then that Labor will not join the Likud to form a unity government? Indeed, earlier today the Labor Party submitted a no-confidence motion, not over the Gaza withdrawal or the Palestinian issue, but rather on socio-economic grounds. So Labor is unraveling the "safety net" and starting to apply pressure on Sharon and the Likud. It's nice to see Labor being a little bit less passive than I've come to expect, but they can't do too much on their own (since all of the no-confidence motions so far have been defeated). So what's the solution? Although this is probably even more improbable than Sharon initiating negotiations, it seems now to be a great opportunity for President Bush to work towards reopening the peace process. Saeb Erekat is coming to Washington on Friday (I think) to meet with officials from the Bush Administration (I think Colin Powell... not 100% sure). Seriously. This is the perfect time. Or as perfect as you can get these days.

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