October 31, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 146

Arab Call on Arafat to Accept Camp David Proposals

October 31, 2000
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 146

Raghida Dugham, the New York based senior analyst and correspondent for the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat , (who is known to be affiliated with the Saudi Crown Prince, Abdullah) wrote an article entitled "An Amazing Peace Initiative by Arafat May Turn the Tables on Israeli Escalation"[1]:

"...Now, Arab capitals, as well as the PA, should study their options and be candid presenting the strategies of either peace or its antithesis, whether this is a limited Palestinian war, a wider Arab war, or a no-peace no-war equation, in which case Israel will solve the Palestinian problem unilaterally."

"The first stage in this candidness is included in the possibility of turning the table over the Israeli escalation and provocation by [launching] an amazing peace initiative. Such an initiative requires that Yasser Arafat do what Ayatollah Khomeini did when he decided to drink the "poison cup" and accept the cease-fire with Iraq. It means that Arafat should accept what he rejected before September 28, in the framework of the negotiations results."

"Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had reached an agreement on all the details with the exception of the Al-Haram Al-Sharif which Israel calls 'the Temple Mount,' and sees as a holy site for Jews as well. More than 30 'compromising proposals' were brought up to solve the problem of sovereignty over the holy sites, and especially the Al-Haram Al-Sharif, without reaching an agreement. Ehud Barak withdrew the proposals for Israeli sovereignty but he rejected Palestinian sovereignty. Yasser Arafat was on the verge of accepting the sovereignty of a third party, as long as the party included strong Islamic elements, but he wanted Arab partnership in reaching such a decision."

"The Palestinian President went to Cairo, Amman, Riyadh, Rabat, and other capitals, demanding partnership in reaching this decision, but he was told this was impossible. The best he could get was [Arab leaders] not opposing his decision. He was hesitating while the clock of Israeli domestic political considerations was ticking towards the twelfth hour."

"It may be that the time for an amazing peace initiative based on drinking the 'poison cup' has passed, especially since all the signs show that the political and maybe popular base [in Israel] has given Barak the ladder to step down from his Jerusalem proposals. He has crossed a red line in Israeli terms and the time has come to bring him back to the [Israeli] internment-camp. However, it is possible that the bitterness Israelis have just tasted... will also encourage them also to accept the principle of drinking the 'cup of poison' and accept the amazing initiative."

"If such an option exists, it does not tolerate time wasting, but rather, requires great speed in establishing its foundations, in the Palestinian, Arab, and international [spheres]. This is a very risky and courageous option... By all standards, this is the most dangerous option and it requires composure and preparations for the consequences."

"It is possible that this option does not exist at all due to the situation and because the logic of confrontation took over the logic of negotiation. In such a case, the scenarios of peaceful solutions have become academic and there is no point in searching for alternatives for the American sponsorship, which is biased towards Israel, as some demand... The reality is that the negotiations that were launched in Oslo came the closest to an agreement just before the explosion that came to prevent reaching an agreement."

"The truth of the matter is that the logic of Oslo that launched the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations independently of the other Arab tracks of the Madrid Summit requires that the Palestinians decide what their options are - negotiations or Intifada - as a basis for any Arab position. This [Palestinian decision] is the missing element at this point... Today the Palestinians require make their own decision and then the rest of the Arabs will support them."

"The Palestinians chose in the 90s to be the masters of their own decisions and excluded the rest of the Arabs from this decision. They had a right to so chose. But to suddenly return and ask to be led by the Arabs is a double-standard and insolent injustice."

"The peace process that started in Madrid in 1991 was replaced in 1994 in Oslo by a Palestinian decision to separate from the Arab multilateral [framework] in the negotiations with Israel. If the Oslo process failed today, it is not the fault of the rest of the Arabs [but rather of the Palestinians'.]

"The different Palestinian sectors should know that the return of the Palestinian issue to the heart of Arab sympathy and thought, does not mean the popular Arab base is ready to participate in a war for the Palestinian cause. War is not only excluded on the level of [Arab] political decision-making, but also in the considerations of the Arab individual who is not subjected to occupation. The Arab public, despite its honest sympathy and solidarity with the Intifada, is unable, and possibly, unwilling to cross the border and send their children armed with stones against the Israeli soldier who is armed with a rifle and hides behind airplanes and tanks..."

[1] Al-Hayat (London-Beirut), October 26, 2000.

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