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December 23, 1994 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-12-23

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Make your dreams come true

Yassir Arafat and his wife chat with Geid Lundestad, director of the Norwegian
Nobel Institute.

Smoke And Mirrors


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Israel's Nobel Laureates take the ambiguous route
back from Oslo.


illows of verbal smoke
wafted around Israel last
week as the Israeli gov-
ernment, and above all
Nobel Laureates Yitzhak Rabin
and Shimon Peres, pussy-footed
around the issue of the how to
proceed with the next stage of the
Declaration of Principles: the
Israel Defense Forces' redeploy-
ment in the West Bank.
Despite ministerial predictions
that "fateful decisions" would be
taken in the days to come, a
three-session government meet-
ing produced little more than a
vague communique stating: "The
government will continue nego-
tiating in line with its commit-
ment to the DoP and will act
according to its principles and the
lessons learned up till now."
And so Messrs. Rabin and
Peres were able to fly off to Oslo
to receive their august honors
sheltered by a mantle of am-
biguity. But the dilemma posed
by the third stage of the Decla-
ration of Principles — redeploy-
ing the Israel Defense Forces in
the West Bank, holding elections
for the Palestinian Council, and
concluding an interim agreement
that will hold until May 1999 —
remained unsolved.
The complexity of that dilem-
ma and the inherent contradic-
tion in the government's latest
policy statement were summed
up by Ha'aretz columnist Uzi
Benziman. How can the govern-
ment reconcile its commitment
to the Declaration of Principles
and the "lessons learned up till
now," he asked, if "the lesson
learned from ... Gaza and Jericho
is that Arafat is not seriously act-
ing against terrorism and that it's
impossible to turn responsibility


for public order throughout the
West Bank ... over to the Pales-
tinian Authority."
`The trap," as Ha'aretz Defense
Editor Ze'ev Schiff calls the situ-
ation, is deeper than that. "Arafat
is regarded as Israel's sole part-
ner today and should, therefore,
be strengthened. ... But handing
him [additional] territory and
authority, when he has failed to
truly exercise his powers and help
wipe out terrorism, is a recipe for
failure. And slowing down or sus-
pending the process may likewise
lead to Arafat's downfall." All of
which sounds ominously like the
conclusion that Israel is damned
if it does and damned if its
The matter is further compli-
cated by the fact that Israel
regards each stage of the Dec-
laration of Principles as a test the
Palestinians must pass before
graduating to the next one. "The
DoP does not provide for auto-
matic transition from one phase
to the next," writes Dr. Mark
Heller of the Jaffee Center for
Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv Uni-
versity in a study entitled "The
Israel-PLO Agreement: What If
It Fails? How Will We Know?"
But in the Palestinian view, any
Israeli attempts to revise the
ground rules are essentially
violations of the agreement.
Before leaving for Oslo,
Messrs. Rabin and Peres further
clouded the matter of how they
intend to resolve these blatant
contradictions by expressing
opposing views on a number of
proposals for enhancing the
security of the settlers.
So how does the Israeli gov-
ernment expect to resolve the
problem of both redeploying its

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