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August 21, 1992 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-08-21

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Israel Correspondent


fter the whirlwind
opening month of
Yitzhak Rabin's
tenure, including his trium-
phant trip to the United
States, the next act of the
Israeli government's change
of direction is scheduled to
open in Washington with the
renewal of the bilateral
,, peace talks.
But it may not come to
pass exactly on schedule.
The Palestinians are so
= peeved about Israel obtain-
, ing the $10 billion in loan
guarantees without placing
a full freeze on the set-
tlements that they're
threatening to boycott the
talks or at least delay their
- resumption in protest.
But even if there is a short
delay, the Israelis and Pales-
tinians will soon sit down to
- hammer out the terms of the
five-year period of self-rule
in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip. And whenever they
do, they'll find themselves
tackling a series of difficult,
even daunting issues that
-- may take quite a while to
At Kennebunkport, Prime
1 Minister Rabin laid out a
tegotiating timetable that
enables elections for the self-
governing authority to take

Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

Mideast Talks Turn
To The Fine Print

For Israel, the time has come to tackle the nitty-gritty
of just what Palestinian autonomy really entails.

place next April. But some
Israeli experts are skeptical
about the ease and speed
with which the talks are
likely to proceed, especially
as the gap between the sides
on some issues is formidable.
The notion of autonomy for
the Palestinians — which
was originally proposed by
Israel — traces back to the
Camp David accords of 1978,
which characterized the five
years of self-rule as
"transitional ar-
rangements." Israel has re-
iterated its commitment to
the Camp David framework,
but the Palestinians never
endorsed it and don't see
themselves as constrained
by its provisions. What's
more, radical demographic
changes have occurred in the
territories over the past
14 years.
In 1978 fewer than 20,000
Israelis were living in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip;

by 1992 the number of set-
tlers had increased six-fold,
with housing still going up
for 40,000-50,000 more. Most
of the Israeli population was
then confined to a few lim-
ited areas, while today the
West Bank is dotted with
Jewish settlements, making
"territorial autonomy" far
more complex to effect.
Yet perhaps the main
reason why the autonomy
talks were stalled for so long
is that both sides were aim-
ing for their maximum posi-
tions under an assumed
"The Likud wanted to
keep the status quo and call
it autonomy," explained
Knesset member Ephraim
Sneh, a former head of the
Civil Administration in the
West Bank. "The Palestin-
ians want to have an in-
dependent state and call it
the same. And the Rabin
government has a mandate

to reach an accommodation
on self-government which
means just that."
Here, then, is a brief guide
to those perplexed, or about
to be, by the nitty-gritty of
the autonomy talks. It
begins with opposing ap-
proaches to the future.
Israel wants to negotiate
only the practical ar-
rangements for the five-year
transition period, without
reference to what comes
after that. The Palestinians
want those same interim ar-
rangements to constitute the
groundwork for an indepen-
dent state. Consequently, in
the course of the upcoming
talks we can expect to hear
much about:
• The "source of au-
thority," which is essential-
ly a synonym for sovereign-
ty, with the question being
which authority — the Pa-
lestinian self-governing
body or the Israeli govern-

ment — will have the fmal
word in the territories in the
transition period.
• Whether the jurisdiction
of the self-governing au-
thority will be defined in
territorial or ethnic terms.
The Palestinians obviously
want the former, so that
their powers will extend
over all the territory oc-
cupied by Israel in 1967 and
all of its inhabitants, Jews
and Arabs alike. Asked who
would deal with the battered
wife of a Jewish settler, Pa-
lestinian leader Feisal el-
Husseini recently told an
interviewer: "We have expe-
rienced people who can
handle social and family
problems. After all, when
you have a police problem in
Tel Aviv, you don't call in
forces from Washington."
The Rabin government
also sees the jurisdiction
question in territorial terms
but draws a different map,
exempting the Jewish set-
tlements and east Jerusalem
(including its Palestinian
inhabitants) from the sway
of the Palestinian authority.
Less clear is who will
intervene in conflicts involv-
ing Israelis and Palestinians
in the territories. "Who will
try - an Arab youngster for
throwing a stone at a Jew?"
was how Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres put the prob-
lem to the Knesset Foreign




Artwork by D. B. Johnson. Copyright., 1992, D. B. Johnson

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