Thursday, June 15, 2006

the 1967 borders

There has been much discussion recently about the so called "convergence plan" and what are the real intentions behind the plans. The "convergence plan" appears to be a two prong process - firstly an attempt to negotiate an agreement with the Pal., failing which Israel would unilaterally withdraw from around 90% of the territories.

For the Israelis, they see this as a painful process; a final recognition of the bankruptcy of occupation. For the Palestinians and much, if not most of the international community see this plan as another attempt by Israel to evade making genuine concessions and is seen as a land grab to ensure the eventual annexation of three large settlement blocs in the West Bank.

I for one do not think the convergence plan as currently crafted by Israel is a suitable plan. Israel does not appear to be taking the first stage - negotations with Abu Mazen seriously. Olmert has been office for a while now and whilst he has criss crossed around America and Europe he has yet to meet with Abu Mazen. Like the days of Sharon, he is imposing preconditions to serious negotiations. One is tempted to conclude that the fact Hamas in power and there is anarchy in the territory is a convenient ruse to avoid final status negotations.

The crux of the matter is that Olmert is yet to make the decision that the 1967 borders with minor border modifications is the only basis for a two state solution. He still thinks he can get away with annexing huge settlement blocs unilaterally. He is finding out quick that Europe and even the US don't like the unilateral approach - they want him to empower Abu Mazen and to engage in serious negotiations with him. A final deal would be something more or less like the Geneva initiative, which takes into account these three settlements blocs, albeit largely diminished in size. For the Pal. of course this in itself is a huge concesssion for them - as they regard the WB and Gaza as only 22% of mandatory palestine.

So where is this going to lead? I, for one do not know. Olmert will likely soon meet with Abu Mazen, but it is doubtful anything will emerge from this. Olmert has rejected the "prisoner document" and Israel's response to the Arab League's Beirut a couple of years ago was luke warm. The 1967 borders will eventually form the basis of any agreement, not the contours of settlement blocs - the question is when.