Thursday, September 08, 2005

Not enough land for peace

PA leader Abbas is now demanding lands north and east of Gaza border. This is a harbinger of things to come.

If anyone thought that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza would revive prospects for peace, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas scotched that notion last week. Full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines is insufficient, he declared: Israel must also concede additional territory inside these lines.

Specifically, Abbas demanded land north and east of the Gaza Strip. This land was indeed on the Arab side of the 1949 armistice lines, but Egypt, which controlled Gaza at the time, traded it to Israel in 1950 in exchange for a larger chunk of land that Israel held in eastern Gaza. This new border was subsequently acknowledged not only by UN Resolution 242, but also by the Oslo Accords, which the Palestinians signed. The PA, therefore, has no conceivable claim to this land: Not only did Israel "purchase" it by ceding a larger bit of land to Gaza, but the new border was recognized by both the UN and the PA itself.

Thus when PA officials first raised this demand in talks with Israel several weeks ago, Israeli officials dismissed it as a negotiating ploy. But what Abbas did last week is not so easily dismissed: In an interview published in a major Palestinian daily, Al-Quds, on Saturday, he told the Palestinian public that "the evacuation of the settlers, the settlements and the army from the Strip are steps in the right direction, but it does not mean the end of the occupation. There are lands in eastern and northern Gaza still under occupation.... We need to renegotiate the details and get back to the real border."

This statement manages to undermine every major foundation of the peace process at once.

Read the rest.


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