July/August 2000

Eyes Wide Open

Aaron Lerner Date: 11 July, 2000
"Keep your eyes on the ball." This is the watchword in this critical period. The Barak team will do everything in its power to divert your attention with side issues about style rather than substance.
I could spend the next few paragraphs questioning the intellectual honesty of the MKs, ministers and others who in truth have no idea what Barak is actually planning to do at the summit yet are now embarking on a campaign supporting Barak simply on blind faith.

This, when Foreign Minister David Levy is boycotting the summit because he knows what Barak is planning. Many of these very same politicians have made it brutally clear that they have anything but blind faith in Prime Minister Barak when it comes to any other issue.

I could observe that America's arms embargo and cancellation of joint exercises as punishment for the Phalcon deal makes it clear that any deal that leads to an increase in reliance on America is an agreement that relies on American support that may be withheld in the future - or used by America to blackmail Israel into destroying its independent arms industry and hence the Jewish State's critical technological edge.

I could ridicule Barak's assertion that the withdrawal deal he strives for will allow Israel to spend more money on "butter" and less on "guns," noting that a withdrawal deal would require billions of dollars in the construction of barriers and security arrangements and that, if and when, after massive Israeli withdrawals, the Palestinians move on to the next stage in the program for the destruction of Israel in stages, it would be child's play for them to turn "little Israel" into a nightmare that no one will want to spend either a tourist or investment dollar in.

Finally, I could spend a few minutes explaining the underlying faulty logic in Barak's comparison between the situation today with the Palestinians and the situation in 1972, when Israel is said to have declined the opportunity to make a deal with Egypt. I could explain that the deal Israel would agree to after a conflict would reflect the realization that the Palestinians do in fact have an army in the West Bank and Gaza while the deal Barak seeks to make today will ignore this - making it certain that the post-agreement Palestinian Army will only get stronger so that when the blow up comes our losses will be greater.

Instead, I want to focus on what we should be looking for in a summit agreement.

If something is agreed to at the summit you can expect hours of coverage and reams of reports - but very little substance.

As I said, you have to keep your eyes on the ball and seek out the texts - the agreements and their appendices and accompanying letters.

Here is a short checklist:

1. Are the issues resolved in a manner that does not allow for differences in interpretation? Are some issues referred to committees?

2. Are there maps with clearly drawn lines or verbiage subject to interpretation?

3. Do leases renew in perpetuity as per the Israel-Jordan treaty precedent?

4. Does the agreement resolve the problem of the already-existing Palestinian army and other security issues?

5. Does the agreement require that the PLO, via its bodies and formal procedures, officially renounce any and all claims and grievances beyond the agreement?

6. Does the agreement require complete Palestinian compliance - including the renouncing of these claims and grievances - prior to any Israeli withdrawals?

7. What happens when Israel believes that there is a Palestinian violation? Does the agreement rely on the integrity of third party observers? (America has studiously avoided recognizing Palestinian violations from day one).

8. What will Israel's situation be if the Palestinians violate the agreement (after all, Barak claims he will only make a deal if it improves Israel's security)?

We have seen time and again that when you look beyond the press handouts and study the texts the truth is there to be seen.

So keep your eyes on the ball - we can't afford to be lazy.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director
IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)

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