by: Jeff Pozmantier on April 9th, 2012 | 6 Comments »
What didn’t happen at Camp David will happen at Blue Heron. But Palestinian and Israeli peace won’t happen before 2016: There are too many anarchists, terrorists, militarists, “sectarianists,” political apologists and lots of other “ists” — yes, even including journalists and columnists — that have too much vested in the Israel-Palestine blame recycling industries to allow peace to break out any sooner.
These industries have been built to endure any and all good news threats, so settling on 2016, the last year of the second Obama administration, and the third year that the Affordable Care Act will have been in full implementation mode, seems more realistic. (Of course, if the Supreme Court is suddenly asked to pass judgement on whether Middle East peace has a deleterious effect on pro- and anti-Israel-Palestine interstate commerce, all bets are off.)
Jumpstarting the peace non-negotiations is now less about the issues and more about the people. The evils that have been taught, learned (and witnessed), often at early ages, have to be unlearned. If your early education includes reading, writing, and reciting the land, refugee, security, terrorism talking points, it takes time to accept that your learned enemy can also be your friendly neighbor, albeit the one who may still occasionally play loud music at odd hours. Politicians, militant groups and countries who are reflexively anti-Israel or anti-Palestinian will also need time to recalibrate their hatred and focus on other scapegoats. The world-wide population afflicted with confirmation bias will also need time to deal with what may be an existential psychological threat to their basic way of thinking.
But mark it down: 2016 is when a peace agreement is reached. There, in idyllic Martha’s Vineyard, at Blue Heron Farm, a 28 acre retreat owned by Lord Norman Foster, the British designer of Hebrew University’s Brain Sciences Center, Obama will once again enjoy a vacation with his family, but this time he will add Middle East peace to his agenda.
Hidden from Fox News and MSNBC — still America’s Right and Left cheerleading squads — and far from media distractions like Newt Gingrich’s recently announced “Palestine is really Palestine, Texas” plan, and Keith Olbermann’s dismissal from the Nickelodeon News Minute because he refused to show up for work after complaining that the big second hand on the Mickey Mouse clock ran fast and that it was unfair to “slime” conservative and liberal celebrities equally, Obama and his special Middle East team, including former President Bill Clinton, will help Palestinians and Israelis reach their “promised land.”
That promised land will include a division of West and East Jerusalem and Palestinian control of approximately 96% of the West Bank, excluding large settlement blocs. Timelines will be established for the transfer of specific areas. Bypass roads will be built to help with travel. The agreement will allow Israel, along with other countries, to have a security presence that diminishes as certain established parameters are fulfilled. Israel will also agree to admit up to 100,000 “refugees” over a ten year period, subject to their passing a security screen.
Now that was easy wasn’t it? So you ask: Why has it taken generations of Israeli, Arab and Palestinian leaders eight decades of negotiating? So I answer: Perhaps for many leaders in the ersatz leaders’ club, an uncomfortable stasis has always trumped the risk of venturing into what they see as a politically scary abyss that only seems to deepen with each passing missile, bomb, and settlement.
Maybe all we ever needed was a Passover and Ramadan-celebrating President, freed from election constraints and willing to push his own “endorsed” plan — referred to euphemistically by some commentators as the U.S. TAKE IT OR WE LEAVE PLAN, a plan no less or more radical than any plan both sides had already largely agreed on in previous years. Plus, this plan offers the added kicker of various U.S security and financial guarantees and the full support of the Arab League, who, while largely ineffectual in 2012, was now, behind the leadership of more democratically elected governments, much more influential.
This vision is, no doubt, more inciteful than insightful to those who prefer to believe that is always “their” — you fill in the “their” blank — fault.But there will always be a “their” as long as the world’s worst negotiation continues. We are now at Day 23,341. But why count days when we should be counting generations? (By the way, that wasn’t a rhetorical question.For fans of precision, go to the www.bumpspot.com website to get the negotiation length down to the hours, minutes and seconds. But don’t email me that I’m off in my count because the clock shouldn’t start until this or that year or hour, or that I need to consider time zones or faulty negotiating clocks. If you disagree, then just get your own clock. Unlike land areas, there are many time-telling devices to buy or share.)
The 2016 final plan was largely drafted decades ago and is a modestly changed version of the one Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last discussed before Abbas and Olmert were swept up in the Middle East’s infectious anti-leadership/lost election epidemic back in 2008. (Olmert also caught the indictment flu in 2009, but the symptoms manifested in 2008 and weakened his negotiating position.)
The plan now comes together in 2016 because more sides have actively joined the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating party. It took far too long, but by 2016, the Quartet (U.S., U.N., Russia and E.U.), and Arab League have finally begun to act like the primary actors they are, and with Turkey’s, Jordan’s and Egypt’s assistance, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have finally begun to recognize that now is the best time for each of them to make the sometimes painful concessions necessary to move forward.
It also helped that Fatah and Hamas, behind Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leadership, were effectively united in 2013. Plus, after much debate, Hamas agreed to formally operate within thePalestine Liberation Organization’s political framework, effectively agreeing to forswear violence, support all past Middle East agreements and accept Israel’s right to exist. While Israel’s Likud Party leadership was deeply skeptical, they were no longer the leader of Israel’s government coalition so that literal stumbling bloc was neutered.
More on the details of the 2016 agreement and what Political Year 2016 looks like in my next post…