Mideast Apartheid? Peace?

Tanya Reinhart





The Hebrew daily 

‘Yediot Axaronot’ 23.3.00.

(Notes added for Z-net commentaries.)


and twenty Palestinian intellectuals issued a message addressed to the Israeli

and Jewish public. "The majority of Palestinians, including the

undersigned, believed that the time was ripe for concluding with the Israelis a

historic agreement", they open, but instead, "the historic settlement

is becoming a settlement between Israelis themselves, not a settlement with the

Palestinians". That’s because at the present, the balance of power is in

Israel’s favor. "It is clear that the Palestinian negotiator, whose hands

are tied by the overwhelming balance of power working against him, may be

coerced into accepting a humiliating and degrading settlement."


an interview to Amira hass in Haaretz (13.3.00) some of the signers add that we,

the Israelis, always believe that we are omnipotent. That’s precisely how we

felt at the eve of the Yom Kippur war in 1973. But if we go on making ourself

hated by the whole region, at the end we will remain five million heroes against

more than too hundred million Arabs.


proportions in the Arab world are similar to those of the white in South Africa.

Now it may seem to us possible to establish here an Apartheid regime and

imprison the Palestinians in their fenced "states". But in the long

run, our options are precisely as there: join the region in peace, or perish.

The Palestinian intellectuals offer us the option that the black left has

offered to the whites in South Africa – join. "We extend our hand to you to

make a real and just peace, not the militarist peace of coercion, the generals



are just two roads leading to peace: A Palestinian states in the borders of

1967, whose capital is Jerusalem, or the road taken in South Africa – a

democratic state shared by both nations. A third road does not exist. "the

settlement the Israeli leadership is seeking to impose on the Palestinian

negotiator could not be a settlement with the Palestinian people… We will

neither support nor accept it"


writers of these words will be labelled here ‘our enemies’, because they reject

our peace proposals. Our columnists explain daily that the art of negotiations

requires toughness. So it is obvious and natural that we should try to squeeze

out of the Palestinian empire as many concessions as we can.


squeezing has no limits. In 1995’s Beilin-Abu Maazen plan for the final

settlement, it was agreed that Arafat will renounce, on behalf of the

Palestinians, any claim on Jerusalem, and the Palestinian institutions will move

to the village Abu-Dis, bordering with Jerusalem. In return, Arafat will be

allowed to call Abu-Dis the capital of the Palestinian state. When Arafat

declares he will never give up on Al-Kuds (Jerusalem), he means Abu-dis (1).

Already since 1998, he was led to believe that Abu-Dis will be declared ‘zone A’

(Palestinian self-administration), in the nearest "withdrawal".


for Barak, this is not enough. Abu-Dis was not included in the last package. Now

he demands that first Arafat will agree that Israel will annex officially all

areas of Israeli settlements surrounding Jerusalem, and then, maybe, he will get

Abu-Dis, and declare from there the formation of the state of the Palestinian

ghettoes (2).


thing with Syria. For years it has been clear that as long as we do not give up

the Golan Heights and make peace with Syria, there will be no quiet in the

north. But behind the eyewash concerning Israel’s readiness to concessions, the

only official document – the Shepherdstown document – clarifies that Israel does

not agree to evacuate the Golan settlements, or allow Syrian sovereignty of any

area in the Golan (3). It appears that Barak seeks to impose on Asad the same

kind of "peace" he offers Arafat. And if Asad refuses, this means he

does not really want peace, and the Israeli army stands ready for the battle.


is the most dangerous prime minister in the history of Israel. Already in 1982

he proposed to extend the Lebanon war to a total war on Syria. Then he explained

(in a memorandum to Sharon) that the best way to do that is without sharing the

plans with the government. Today he is consulting only with the heads of the

army and the security services. Never had the army as much grip on Israeli

politics, as in the times of Barak.



to an extensive poll reported in ‘Yediot’ (March 10, 00), 60% of the Jewish

Israelis are willing ot return all of the Golan Height and evacuate all

settlements for peace with Syria. A similar percentage supported in the polls

evacuation of settlements in the West Bank. But this majority has no voice,

since we do not have intellectuals of the magnitude of the Palestinian

intellectuals. Faced with the apartheid regime established in the West Bank and

Gaza, our intellectuals are still thrilled and moved by "the historical

compromise" we brought about with the Palestinians. As for Syria, what can

we do, given that Asad has not yet managed to prove that he really, but really,

loves Amos Oz (4).





E.g. in ‘Haaretz’ 5.5.98 (Akiva Eldar) it is reported that "Yaser Arafat

accepts the idea that the capital of the Palestinian state will be Abu-dis,

neighboring Jerusalem, and sees the understandings included in Beilin-Abu maazen

agreement as a realistic option for the final agreement with Israel".

"In a meeting with the Middle East section of the foreign affairs council

whose center is in New-York… Arafat was asked if it is possible to reach an

agreement with Israel also on the question of Jerusalem. Arafat: ‘Certainly, it

is possible to accept the idea of Abu-Dis, which belonged to Al-Kuds also under

Jordanian rule"


Haaretz, March 10, 00. Headline: "Barak offers Arafat: A state in return to

annexation of 10% of the West Bank"; Text: Barak offers "a limited

agreement by which Israel will recognize a Palestinian state declared in parts

of the West Bank and Gaza. In return, Israel will annex 10% of the West Bank…

(mainly the settlements surrounding Jerusalem…)". "Barak assumes

that if future negotiations will be carried out between two sovereign states,

the likelihood that they will be accompanied by violent activity will be



The full draft of the Shepherdstown document, leaked out by the Israeli

government, appeared in ‘haaretz’ and ‘yediot’ on 13.1.00. More details can be

found in Reinhart’s "This ain’t the road of peace", January 16, ZNet



In an interview in Haaretz’ weekend magazine (17.3.00), Amos Oz explains that

Asad shows no sensitivity to Israeli emotions – to "our sense of isolation

and humiliation". "Asad is doing his best to humiliate us, as if it is

not the Golan he wants, but that Barak will go out to him wearing underwear,

with his hands up.." Hence Oz declares that although he is in principle for

peace with Syria, he will not support it now.




 ‘Yediot’, Mar 30 , 2000


nothing is going to come out of this peace. Only three months ago it looked so

feasible: to bring the soldiers back home, to stop renovating shelters in the

Galilee, to forget about the northern border, and afterwards, peace like with

Egypt – including, if you wish, visiting the unseen Syrian landscapes. But

that’s not what will happen.


are two narratives about what happened in the Clinton-Assad summit in Geneva.

Ours – the only one heard in Israel (and on CNN) – is that Assad just doesn’t

want peace. "The masks have been unveiled", said Barak, "the

Syrian position is not ripe for the decisions which are necessary in order to

reach a peace treaty". Assad is insisting on those 500 meters in order to

humiliate us and derail the process.


second narrative can be witnessed in Robert Fisk’s report in the British

"Independent": "The two men held three hours of talks, through

interpreters, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, with the Syrian leader

patiently explaining he was not going to fall into the same ‘peace’ trap as the

Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. He will not make peace

with Israel before guaranteeing the return of all of the occupied Golan,

captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Mr Arafat signed a peace

settlement then failed to gain a majority of the occupied West Bank or a capital

in Jerusalem."


this narrative, the dispute is not over the 500 meters at all ("it was

conveyed on behalf of Assad that he is willing to compromise on the withdrawal

line, and even to full Israeli control over the whole of the Kineret coast,

while continuing to negotiate water rights"). The dispute is over the model

of the peace. There are two models in our history: in the Egyptian model, all

stages of the withdrawal and guarantees were finalized before the treaty was

signed (the later discussions concerned the autonomy for the Palestinians). The

withdrawal was set to spread over three years, and only after 2/3 of Sinai was

evacuated, embassies were set up. The Taba issue remained. Both sides held it

precious, and the Israelis used to spend their vacations on its shores. That’s

why the decision regarding it was left for the end.


the Arafat model, the Oslo agreement was signed with almost nothing agreed upon,

besides Israeli declarations of principle about willingness for a withdrawal.

Seven years later, it turns out that the Palestinians have halted the Intifadah,

but Arafat didn’t get anything of what was promised to him in the west bank.

What was realized was the autonomy plan which the Palestinians always rejected.


is saying that he will agree to a Sadat style peace, and not to an Arafat style

one. Barak is demanding that he will first sign, open embassies and fight the

Hizbollah. And then, if we will be satisfied, we will withdraw. This is the

Arafat model. Barak does not agree to the Sadat model.


there is no peace. But without peace, Lebanon is the Israeli Vietnam, and life

in the northern towns is hell. But it’s ok, there is an answer: ‘unilateral

withdrawal’. The US is threatening Syria that it is supporting this plan, and

has already begun to pressure Arab leaders to support it as well. It is a little

hard to understand why one needs to threaten anyone to agree to an Israeli

withdrawal from Lebanon – what everybody in the region has been demanding all

along. But "unilateral withdrawal" is the code name for a plan which

Sharon has already proposed three years ago: we will withdraw unilaterally while

creating some kind of provocation (such as, not fully withdraw) and then, with

the first missile, we will go on a total war. The world will be on our side,

because we have withdrawn. Since our soldiers are no longer there, it would now

be possible to burn the earth from the air.


and others have mentioned this "Kosovo plan" several times. This is

what is being prepared in the north. And if it will prove necessary, "we

will also attack Syrian targets".


and Sharon are counting on the fact that Assad is currently weak, and his army

is not what it used to be. So this time there will be no missiles and no sealed

rooms. Maybe they are right, but who wants to check? And if they will succeed

this time, how long will it last? Making peace by the Sadat model would make

much more sense. There is still time to stop this summer’s war.





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