Monday, January 22, 2007

Carter and Camp David, where it all began

A Good Article
By Zachary Wales, The Electronic Intifada, 22 January 2007

".....But like most things Israeli and Palestinian, few are taking note of history and what it might mean to an ex-president. Carter is no longer in "the game," which affords him the liberty to speak frankly, unlike Howard Dean, who once hinted at criticisms of Israel before quickly retreating to behavioral protocol. Perhaps then it is fairer to judge Carter's present in light of his past, when political cards were stacked and he spoke with another voice......

It is difficult to believe that the imminent failure of Camp David as a "peace accord" was not obvious at the time it was signed. Prior to the talks themselves, Ariel Sharon, then head of the Ministerial Settlement Committee, told the September 9, 1978 Jerusalem Post: "Make no mistake about it, the government will establish many new settlements. That's what it was elected to do and that is what it will do … These plans are not prejudicial to the prospects of peace …[for] they will permit us to entertain more daring solutions to the question of the Arab population than we can permit ourselves today." [8]

Nor is it apparent that the Accords did much to uphold America's interests in the Middle East. "Carter's signature will cost him his interests in the Arab region," Warren Christopher told the U.S. Department of State in a confidential cable less than ten days after the Accords were signed. [9]

Another crucial point that Carter leaves out is his direct influence on Camp David's adherence to UN Resolutions. Camp David unfolded with the understanding that the PLO was willing to accept UN Resolution 242 on the basis that Palestinian national rights were recognized. The United States, however, rejected this, in part because of the Zionist lobby (which included popular tours made by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Rabbi Alexander Schindler, along with private meetings between Carter's staff and Dayan) and Israel's disapproval. Throughout the talks, Carter cast frequent aspersions on Palestinians and started looking for moderates who would be willing to sign away rights. The policy document that Carter and Dayan produced after a meeting that went from 6:30 pm to 2:30 am, did not mention any Palestinian rights, and took the words "Palestine" and "Palestinian" out of the document altogether, substituting the terms with "Arab" or "West Bank and Gaza." In its entirety, the document contradicted the U.S.-Soviet policy approach that was established in 1977. [10]

Moreover, throughout these talks, Dayan spoke candidly about the idea of "Arab Bantustans," borrowing liberally from South Africa's apartheid model of the time. Added to this were Begin's proposals for the annexation of territories without conferring upon their Palestinian inhabitants either Israeli citizenship or the political rights emanating there from. [11]

When Carter addressed Congress on the outcome of Camp David on September 18, 1978, he said that "the Israeli military government over those areas [i.e. the West Bank and Gaza] will be withdrawn and will be replaced with a government with full autonomy." [12] In reality, "autonomy" became what one historian called a "scheme for continued occupation under a more permanent guise." The Accords provided a series of "transitional arrangements" for the West Bank and Gaza under which Israeli military government and civilian administration would be withdrawn "as soon as self-governing authority ha[d] been freely elected by the inhabitants." The "final status" of the territories would be negotiated by Israel, Egypt, Jordan and representatives from the West Bank and Gaza during the five-year period prescribed for the "transitional arrangements," which were to "give due consideration to both the principle of self-government by the inhabitants of these territories and to the legitimate security concerns of the parties involved." A U.S. official in the Jerusalem consulate later told one historian, "Neither the end of the occupation nor self-determination is fully guaranteed in Camp David." [14]......"

No comments: