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The Turkey Under the Table

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Message Uri Avnery
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The only way to proceed is first of all to reach an agreement on the "core issues." This can be implemented over some time -- though I would not recommend that either.

Israeli-Palestinian peace is a huge step in the history of the two peoples. If we have the courage to do it, let's do it, for God's sake, without lying down along the way and crying.

AT THE moment, the great riddle is: what has Kerry promised each side in secret?

The method seems sound. Since the two sides could not agree on anything, and each demanded that the other start negotiations "without pre-conditions" while posing a lot of pre-conditions themselves, Kerry chose a different way.

It is based on a simple logic: in the American-Israeli-Palestinian triangle, almost all decisions will have to be made two-to-one. In practice, each side needs American support to get its demands accepted.

So, instead of trying to achieve the impossible -- Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the basis of the negotiations -- America gave each side a promise to support it on certain points.

For example, at a guess: a promise that the US will support the Palestinians on the border issue. The border will be based on the Green Line with reasonable land swaps. Also, on freezing settlements while the negotiations go on. On the other hand, the US will support Israel on the definition of Israel as a "Jewish" state and on the (non-)return of Palestinian refugees.

In the past, the US has broken such promises without blushing. For example, before the Camp David meeting, President Bill Clinton gave Yasser Arafat a solid promise that he would blame neither side for a failure. (Since the meeting was convened without the slightest preparation, failure was predictable.) After the conference, Clinton put the blame squarely -- and wrongly -- on Arafat, a vile act of political opportunism, designed to help his wife get elected in New York.

In spite of such experiences, Abbas put his trust in Kerry. It seems that Kerry has the gift of inspiring such trust. Let's hope he does not squander it.

So, with or without a turkey to keep the wolf from devouring the lamb, and in spite of all the past disappointments, let's hope that this time real negotiations get going and lead towards peace. The alternative is too dismal to contemplate.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)
 

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