WASHINGTON POST-WATCH: Editorial Ignores Key Facts

The Washington Post editorial “A Prompt from Geneva” (December 6) claims that completion of “a security fence along a border of Israel’s choosing, effectively annexing significant parts of the West Bank … would seek to preempt the more equitable settlement laid out at Geneva, under which Israel would evacuate all but two percent of West Bank lands.” The editorial ignores that:

* The unauthorized Israeli-Palestinian Geneva document attempts to out-flank Israel’s elected government in a way no democracy would tolerate;

* Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has stressed that “painful concessions” would be necessary for a peaceful settlement; and

* Israeli government representatives have said the fence can be moved or dismantled as part of a settlement based on an actual, not merely promised, end to Palestinian violence.

Instead, the Post insists preemptively that Israeli evacuation of “all but two percent of West Bank lands” would be “more equitable” than construction of the fence. The security barrier, according to numerous reports and a U.N. study, would leave approximately 15 percent of the disputed West Bank (Judea and Samaria) on the Israeli side.

The Post ignores, among other things, key military and diplomatic history. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (adopted soon after the 1967 Six-Day War) calls for “secure and recognized borders” for all parties to the fighting. Israel’s pre-‘67 armistice lines were nine miles wide east-to-west just above Tel Aviv, four miles wide north-to-south just west of Jerusalem. They invited aggression.

One of Israel’s premier doves, Abba Eban, told Der Spiegel in 1969 that “we have openly said that the map will never again be the same as on June 4, 1967 …. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger.”

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1974 said “Israel will not return — even within the context of a peace treaty — to the June 4, 1967 lines. These lines are not defensible borders, and they constitute a temptation for aggression against us.” Rabin said much the same in his 1992 campaign. When Prime Minister Ehud Barak violated his own “red line” requiring a minimum of 10 percent of the West Bank before going to Camp David in July 2000, his cabinet collapsed.

The Post’s “two-percent solution” would not meet Rabin’s understanding of Resolution 242’s requirement of “secure and recognized” boundaries. In any case, Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority rejected a state on 97 percent-plus (essentially the “two percent” advocated by the newspaper) of the West Bank and Gaza Strip at Taba in January 2001. If the Geneva document was an attempted end-run around the necessity of good faith negotiations in an atmosphere of non-violence, then the Post’s territorial recommendation was a mirage.

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