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MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 7/12/00:
   The Camp David II summit is more an attempt to provide a massive smokescreen to
obscure the realities of what has taken place in the area west of the Jordan
River and thus to make it possible for Yasser Arafat and "Authority" to get on board for a large multi-year multi-billion buy-out of what once was called Palestine.
   Those realities were recently outlined by a columnist for a small newspaper in Florida.  It's the kind of honest and forthright analysis you won't find in the pages of the Washington Post or the New York Times; and don't expect to see the author on network TV.
    But also certainly don't count on "the truth" at this point.  All the big boys are working overtime on masking precisely that.  And don't count on "collapse" either.  Masking the truth more than ever is designed precisely to prevent that result -- along with a great deal of money and much CIA assistance.

                   ONCE TRUTH IS ON THE TABLE,

                   By Columnist Charley Reese

If you took a map of the West Bank and painted in red those areas that have been turned over to the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank would look like it had a bad case of the measles.

Whether there will be peace depends on connecting all those dots so that Palestinians can form a state out of a whole territory. For that to occur, Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza will have to be either dismantled or turned over to the jurisdiction of the Palestinians. In addition, East Jerusalem must be returned to the Palestinians, and Palestinian refugees now living in foreign countries must be allowed to return or be compensated for their lost property.

Now you know why I do not believe that there is going to be peace. I do not believe that the Israeli government has any intention of dismantling all the settlements or turning them over to Arab jurisdiction. I do not believe that the Israelis will entertain even the idea of returning East Jerusalem to Palestinian control. And I do not believe that the Israeli government has any intention of providing for either return or compensation to the Palestinian refugees.

Once this truth is laid on the table, the charade of peace negotiations will collapse. Yasser Arafat's gamble that the United States would ultimately pressure Israel to make concessions will have been lost.

The original flaw of the Oslo process and the original sin of the American position is that two parties, one enormously powerful and the other as weak as weak can be, cannot negotiate. That is so because the weakness of one party makes the stronger party not predisposed to make any concessions while the weaker party has no means of forcing the other to make a concession.

Because the Palestinians have nothing, they have nothing to offer in the way of a concession.  Only parties of roughly equal power really can negotiate.

If the United States had at least been neutral, that would have helped, but because the United States made it clear from the beginning that it would back Israel, negotiations were doomed from the start.

After all these years, the Palestinians have limited authority over disconnected portions of their own land. They have no control over the water. They have no control over what Israel can do in the Occupied Territories. And they have no leverage. Any attempt to enlist the help of the United Nations is summarily blocked by the United States.

In virtually every case a Palestinian wishing to travel from one area of Palestinian authority to another must pass through Israeli-controlled territory. That effectively means that they can travel only with Israeli permission.

The only card Arafat can play is to insist that Israel lay on the table its final position right now. That way, everyone can see that Israel has no interest in a valid peace deal, and the conflict can resume.

It will be very difficult for Egypt and Jordan to maintain their peace treaties once it is clear that, once more, the Israelis have shafted the Palestinians and are stubbornly refusing to relinquish land to which, under international law, they have no valid claim.

Hamas, a Palestinian organization that has stood aside more or less while Arafat played his hand, will say, "OK, you tried your way, and it failed; now we'll try our way."

No one should take any pleasure in the prospect of more bloodshed. No one should delude himself that bloodshed can be avoided if good-faith negotiations and the rule of law are tossed into the trashcan.

Israel and the U.S. government are systematically blocking all the roads to peaceful resolution of the just claims by the Palestinians. The blood will be on their hands.

      Column in The Orlando Sentinel, 7 May 2000.

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