Ex-President Jimmy Carter's National Security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Democratic congressman Stephen Solarz have come up with yet another Middle East peace plan – this one, as published in the Washington Post, relies heavily on a dramatic Barack Obama peace odyssey to the region with a party of Arab leaders and Quartet (US, Russia, EU and UN) members climaxing in a dramatic speech "to all the peoples of the region" from the Old City of Jerusalem.
This would be "the culminating event in the journey for peace."
If the US offer is rejected by either side or both, the two writers advise the United States "to seek the UN Security Council's endorsement of its framework for peace, thus generating worldwide pressure on the recalcitrant party."
debkafile's analysts agree that the Brzezinski-Solarz extravaganza deserves Hollywood's finest director. The only trouble is that it pretends to be a serious peace plan when, even as a script, it is full of holes which fly in the face of the facts.
Perhaps President Obama's failure to visit Israel despite his trips to Arab capitals, including his outreach to the Muslim world from Cairo – which was not matched by any gesture toward the Jewish world – can be glossed over for now. But just the airy proposal to send Arab rulers to Jerusalem is enough to discredit the plan in advance.
Not only is it inconceivable that the Saudi king, the Syrian president, the Iraqi prime minister – or any other Arab rulers – would consent to set foot in the Jewish state, but even Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah, both of whom enjoy the fruits of peace accords with Israel, have never accepted invitations to visit Israel.
The Saudis even rejected out of hand any suggestion of allowing Israel civilian over-flights when President Obama asked for a token gesture to smooth the road to peace diplomacy.
A bubble without substance
Who should know better than Carter's former adviser that the most perfect peace plans burst like bubbles without solid substance? Yet the duo opened their article with this quarter-truth:
"More than three decades ago, Israel statesman Moshe Dayan… declared he would rather have Sharm el-Sheikh without peace than peace without Sharm el-Sheikh. Had his views prevailed Israel and Egypt would still be in a state of war. Today," the writers go on to infer, "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu… is conveying an updated version of Dayan's credo – that he would rather have all of Jerusalem without peace than peace without all of Jerusalem."
The two writers naturally omitted the very facts which undermined their argument:
The remark Dayan tossed off in a different period did not prevent him from joining the government of Likud leader Menahem Begin in 1977 in order to undertake a secret mission in women's disguise to an Arab country to meet Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's secret envoy. He then delivered Begin's offer to return all the Egyptian land Israel captured after it was attacked by Egypt – in return for peace.
Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai was naturally part of the offer – of which, incidentally, the Carter administration in which Brzezinksi starred knew nothing.
The Likud leader's peace initiative laid the foundation for Anwar Sadat's extraordinarily brave pilgrimage to Jerusalem, his speech to the Israeli Knesset, his private prayer for peace from the mosques of Israel-held Temple Mount and the first Arab peace accord with Israel.
Can Carter's former adviser Brzezinski or former congressman Solarz produce a single Arab ruler prepared to accept the current Likud prime minister's peace messengers and hear what they have to offer – much less meet him in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the world as he has proposed?
Yet both writers adopt wholesale the position advanced most vocally of late by Jordan's King Abdullah (whose reign depends heavily on Israeli protection) that Israel is the foremost enemy of peace in the region and must be squeezed harder for more concessions.
Palestinians turned down four previous Israeli offers of a state
Their projected peace plan has the effect of good advice to the Palestinians and their Arab patrons to sit tight and wait for President Obama to table his "framework for peace" at the UN Security Council as a mandatory resolution. This would force Israel's hand and then all their wishes wouldl drop in their laps without the need to face Israel in negotiations.
This proposition is gainsaid by another fact of life which both Brzezinski and Solarz choose to ignore and which every objective, informed Middle East observer knows:
The Palestinians – today as always before – are secretly opposed to the independent state on offer.
In the 33 years since the Begin-Dayan peace initiative, four Israeli leaders have offered the Palestinians the lion's share of the areas Israel captured from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 war.
In 1993, Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo framework accords which permitted Yasser Arafat to end his exile in Tunisia and establish himself at the head of a ruling administration with military and intelligence branches on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He had the kernel of a state which he used for nothing more than to develop terrorist attacks against Israel.
In 2000, Ehud Barak, then prime minister, sat opposite Arafat at Camp David and in the presence of US president Bill Clinton offer the Palestinian leader 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 98 percent of the West Bank for permanent peace.
Arafat rejected the offer there and then and, two months later, in September, unleashed his suicide terror offensive against Israel.
In 2005, Ariel Sharon unilaterally pulled every last Israeli civilian and soldier our of the Gaza Strip and handed it over to the Palestinian Authority – only to have it fall a year later in June 2006 in a putsch staged by the Iranian-backed, extremist Hamas, exposing southwester Israel to a systematic missile offensive.
In 2007, Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) 94.4 percent of the West Bank for a Palestinian state. Abbas turned him down.
In the fourteen months since Binyamin Netanyahu has been prime minister, he has been consistently snubbed every time he proposed restarting peace talks, even after he reluctantly accepted the Obama principle of a two-state solution to the conflict. He even accepted proximity talks as an interim measure for getting negotiations going.
Abbas demanded that the 10-month settlement construction freeze on the West Bank be extended to Jerusalem and the US president backed him up on this proviso, preferring to pressure Israel to give in than the Palestinians to relent.
No need to talk: Obama will deliver
The result is that Israel faces an ultimatum – by Washington: give the Palestinians what they want, or forget about negotiations.
So why on earth do the Palestinians need to bother with diplomacy when the Obama administration is more than willing to fetch and carry for them? And if anyone is threatened with UN sanctions for intransigence, it is not the Palestinians, but Israel, because the world body can raise an automatic majority for condemning Israel at any time – especially if Obama as has been hinted withholds the US veto.
The Brzezinski-Solarz "peace plan" as published in the Washington Post is based on three principles:
First, compensation for, and the resettlement of, the Arab refugees in the Palestinian state but not in Israel.
Second, the genuine sharing of Jerusalem as the capital of each state and some international arrangement for the Old City.
Third, a territorial settlement based on the 1967 borders with mutual and equal adjustments to allow the incorporation of the largest West Bank settlements into Israel.
There is nothing new in these three principles, all of which have been accepted as bases for negotiations by all Israeli governments from the 1993 Oslo accords until the present day. Israel has always insisted, however, on maintaining control of its own security with defensible borders, a proviso guaranteed by the powers after 1967, which for obvious reasons the Palestinians have never accepted.
debkafile asks therefore: Why not go along with their all-or-nothing demands? Let us for the sake of argument accept the writers' claim (without solid proof) that the "Israeli occupation" harms US national interests and objectives in the region, and tell the Palestinians they are free to go ahead and establish their own state right away without further palaver with Israel.
Iran ignored as a menace
Every inch of the Gaza Strip – 100 percent – is already in Palestinian hands and more than 70 percent of the West Bank, so there is no reason for delaying statehood in the areas they already control. It would enjoy American support and Israel could be persuaded to offer guarantees against attacking the new state – unless of course it reverts to being a jumping off base for terrorists or turns itself into a forward military position for Iran, Hamas or Hizballah.
This reversal of the conventional agenda for Middle East diplomacy may prove to be a productive opener for fruitful negotiations. On the other hand, It might bring out the truth for the fifth time: According to debkafile's most reliable informants, statehood on the basis of the pre-1967 lines is not what the Palestinians are after. Every Palestinian leader has spurned this solution and today, Abbas and prime minister Salam Fayad are carefully avoiding building the administration, economic and industrial rudiments of independent an independent state.
To find this out, Brzezinski and Solarz need go no further than former UK prime minister Tony Blair who spends time in Ramallah and is a frequent visitor to Washington as the Middle East Quartet's special envoy, charged with overseeing the creation of Palestinian organs of state.
In off-the-record conversations with US officials, including Barack Obama, Blair has complained that the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is neither willing nor able to establish the infrastructure of independent statehood.
The Brzezinski-Solarz peace plan therefore rests on the flimsiest possible premises, is unsupported by any serious research into past or present factors. It appears to be designed to clothe Israel, rather than the Arab-backed Palestinians, in peace rejectionist garments, as a service to key elements of the Obama administration, such as his national security adviser James Jones.
In so doing, the two world-class strategists failed to notice the biggest peril looming largest over the Middle East and America's regional interests: Iran's pursuit of a nuclear bomb, its threat to wipe Israel off the map and its growing power to radicalize the Palestinians of Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.
If Israel bows to every single Palestinian demand, will the Iranians roll up their nuclear and hegemonic plans and give obeisance to Barack Obama?