Friday, November 16, 2007

Talking in circles

Provocations and misunderstandings abound, but Israel as a state for Jews only remains the heart of the problem

By Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly

"While on his way to Jerusalem for another round of talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Alaa) and members of his negotiating team were held at an Israeli army checkpoint and kept waiting for nearly half an hour. The affront, which may have been deliberate, infuriated the former Palestinian Authority prime minister....

In fact, the incident serves as an allegory caricaturing the protracted talks between the two sides, notwithstanding the numerous bilateral meetings and several "bridging" but effectively futile visits to the region by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice is due to return next week to check on progress, that is if there is any......

More to the point, it is very clear from statements made by Israeli leaders, including opposition leader Benyamin Netanyahu, that Israel would eventually contemplate preventing its non-Jewish population from exceeding a certain threshold in order to prevent Israel from losing its "Jewish identity".

Such manifestly racist policy might take the form of defranchising Israeli Arabs, expelling them, or imposing a limit on how many children an Arab couple can have.

"These are impossible and manifestly racist demands. We can't possibly agree that a million and a half Palestinians who are citizens of Israel won't have a permanent right to live on their ancestral land. This is like saying that the native Americans have no permanent right to live in America."

Arab leaders in Israel are also vehemently opposed to any suggestion that the PA recognise Israel as a Jewish state. Contrary to Olmert's assertions, Ahmed Teibi, an Israeli-Arab lawmaker, said he had received "clear assurances" from PA President Abu Mazen, Abu Alaa and other Palestinian negotiators that the PA "will never ever recognise Israel as a state for the Jews."

"There is complete harmony in our respective positions in this regard," Teibi told the Weekly, adding that Israel is using this issue for "political wrangling"."


And of course Teibi trusts the word of such "honorable" men such as Abu Mazen, Abu Alaa. If he does, I have a bridge I would like to sell to him.

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