CAMERA Letter in Washington Times: Potholes on the ‘peace process’ path

In “A false religion?” (Opinion, April 27) columnist Arnaud de Borchgrave claims that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “apologized for the unfortunate timing of 110 more settlements … but he also made clear the new housing plans would go forward and the Palestinians could forget about establishing their capital in Arab East Jerusalem.”

They are not “settlements” like Jewish towns in the West Bank, but individual housing units. They are not 110 new communities but 1,600 apartments in one existing Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, as a Washington Times news article correctly noted Wednesday. As for “Arab East Jerusalem,” that area is about 43 percent Jewish.

Mr. de Borchgrave writes “it’s what Arabs and Muslims everywhere call the Israeli occupation of Palestine that is the principal leitmotif of Islamist fundamentalists – and the rationale for al Qaeda’s terrorism” including the Sept. 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon.”

Hardly. Osama bin Laden’s principal demands have long been the expulsion of U.S. and other “crusader” forces from the Middle East, the overthrow of “impious” Muslim rulers in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the re-establishment of the international Sunni caliphate. Islamist fundamentalists from Algeria (the Salafist al Qaeda organization in the Islamic Maghreb) to Indonesia (the Jemaah Islamiya) typically desire to oust what they see as “secular” governments and impose Taliban-like theocracies. For Islamists, America remains “the great Satan” and Israel “the little Satan.”

Mr. de Borchgrave asserts that Zbigniew Brzezinski, former President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, has an “out-of-the-box idea for reviving the comatose peace process.” This is said to include “no right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel proper,” west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and east Jerusalem as a Palestinian Arab capital, “drawing of borders … along the 1967 lines, adjusted on the basis of one-for-one swaps” and “an essentially demilitarized Palestinian state.”

None of these items is new or “out-of-the-box.” The first three have long been part of Israeli and U.S.-Israeli proposals for peace in exchange for a West Bank/Gaza Strip state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital – and they all were rejected by Palestinian leaders in 2000, 2001 and 2008. “An essentially demilitarized Palestinian state” was part of the Oslo “peace process” in the 1990s. It included a lightly armed police force, growing from 9,000 to 24,000 authorized members. But during the 2000-04 intifada, Israeli sources estimated the number of armed men at more than 80,000. “New” would be a proposal for demilitarizing an already militarized West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Washington director

CAMERA – Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America


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