The Government of the State of Israel and the P.L.O. team (in
the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference) (the
"Palestinian Delegation"), representing the Palestinian people, agree that it is
time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict, recognize their
mutual legitimate and political rights, and strive to live in peaceful
coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and
comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed
political process. Accordingly, the, two sides agree to the following
AIM OF THE NEGOTIATIONS
The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the
current Middle East peace process is, among other things, to establish a
Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the
"Council"), for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for
a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent
settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
It is understood that the interim arrangements are an integral
part of the whole peace process and that the negotiations on the permanent
status will lead to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and
FRAMEWORK FOR THE INTERIM PERIOD
The agreed framework for the interim period is set forth in this
Declaration of Principles.
In order that the Palestinian people in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip may govern themselves according to democratic principles, direct,
free and general political elections will be held for the Council under
agreed supervision and international observation, while the Palestinian
police will ensure public order.
An agreement will be concluded on the exact mode and
conditions of the elections in accordance with the protocol attached as
Annex I, with the goal of holding the elections not later than nine months
after the entry into force of this Declaration of Principles.
These elections will constitute a significant interim
preparatory step toward the realization of the legitimate rights of the
Palestinian people and their just requirements.
Jurisdiction of the Council will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip
territory, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status
negotiations. The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single
territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved during the interim period.
TRANSITIONAL PERIOD AND PERMANENT STATUS NEGOTIATIONS
The five-year transitional period will begin upon the
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area.
Permanent status negotiations will commence as soon as
possible, but not later than the beginning of the third year of the interim
period, between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian people
It is understood that these negotiations shall cover
remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security
arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and
other issues of common interest.
The two parties agree that the outcome of the permanent
status negotiations should not be prejudiced or preempted by agreements
reached for the interim period.
PREPARATORY TRANSFER OF POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Upon the entry into force of this Declaration of Principles
and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area, a transfer of
authority from the Israeli military government and its Civil Administration
to the authorised Palestinians for this task, as detailed herein, will
commence. This transfer of authority will be of a preparatory nature until
the inauguration of the Council.
Immediately after the entry into force of this Declaration
of Principles and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area, with
the view to promoting economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
authority will be transferred to the Palestinians on the following spheres:
education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation, and tourism.
The Palestinian side will commence in building the Palestinian police force,
as agreed upon. Pending the inauguration of the Council, the two parties may
negotiate the transfer of additional powers and responsibilities, as agreed
The Israeli and Palestinian delegations will negotiate an
agreement on the interim period (the "Interim Agreement")
The Interim Agreement shall specify, among other things, the
structure of the Council, the number of its members, and the transfer of
powers and responsibilities from the Israeli military government and its
Civil Administration to the Council. The Interim Agreement shall also
specify the Council's executive authority, legislative authority in
accordance with Article IX below, and the independent Palestinian judicial
The Interim Agreement shall include arrangements, to be
implemented upon the inauguration of the Council, for the assumption by the
Council of all of the powers and responsibilities transferred previously in
accordance with Article VI above.
In order to enable the Council to promote economic growth,
upon its inauguration, the Council will establish, among other things, a
Palestinian Electricity Authority, a Gaza Sea Port Authority, a Palestinian
Development Bank, a Palestinian Export Promotion Board, a Palestinian
Environmental Authority, a Palestinian Land Authority and a Palestinian
Water Administration Authority, and any other Authorities agreed upon, in
accordance with the Interim Agreement that will specify their powers and
After the inauguration of the Council, the Civil
Administration will be dissolved, and the Israeli military government will
PUBLIC ORDER AND SECURITY
In order to guarantee public order and internal security for the
Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Council will establish a
strong police force, while Israel will continue to carry the responsibility for
defending against external threats, as well as the responsibility for overall
security of Israelis for the purpose of safeguarding their internal security and
LAWS AND MILITARY ORDERS
The Council will be empowered to legislate, in accordance
with the Interim Agreement, within all authorities transferred to it.
Both parties will review jointly laws and military orders
presently in force in remaining spheres.
JOINT ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN LIAISON COMMITTEE
In order to provide for a smooth implementation of this
Declaration of Principles and any subsequent agreements pertaining to the
interim period, upon the entry into force of this Declaration of Principles, a
Joint Israeli-Palestinian Liaison Committee will be established in order to deal
with issues requiring coordination, other issues of common interest, and
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN COOPERATION IN ECONOMIC FIELDS
Recognizing the mutual benefit of cooperation in promoting the
development of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel, upon the entry into
force of this Declaration of Principles, an Israeli-Palestinian Economic
Cooperation Committee will be established in order to develop and implement in a
cooperative manner the programs identified in the protocols attached as
Annex III and Annex IV
LIAISON AND COOPERATION WITH JORDAN AND EGYPT
The two parties will invite the Governments of Jordan and Egypt
to participate in establishing further liaison and cooperation arrangements
between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian representatives, on the one
hand, and the Governments of Jordan and Egypt, on the other hand, to promote
cooperation between them. These arrangements will include the constitution of a
Continuing Committee that will decide by agreement on the modalities of
admission of persons displaced from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967,
together with necessary measures to prevent disruption and disorder. Other
matters of common concern will be dealt with by this Committee.
REDEPLOYMENT OF ISRAELI FORCES
After the entry into force of this Declaration of
Principles, and not later than the eve of elections for the Council, a
redeployment of Israeli military forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
will take place, in addition to withdrawal of Israeli forces carried out in
accordance with Article XIV.
In redeploying its military forces, Israel will be guided by
the principle that its military forces should be redeployed outside
Further redeployments to specified locations will be
gradually implemented commensurate with the assumption of responsibility for
public order and internal security by the Palestinian police force pursuant
to Article VIII above.
ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM THE GAZA STRIP AND JERICHO AREA
Israel will withdraw from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area, as
detailed in the protocol attached as Annex II.
RESOLUTION OF DISPUTES
Disputes arising out of the application or interpretation of
this Declaration of Principles. or any subsequent agreements pertaining to
the interim period, shall be resolved by negotiations through the Joint
Liaison Committee to be established pursuant to Article X above.
Disputes which cannot be settled by negotiations may be
resolved by a mechanism of conciliation to be agreed upon by the parties.
The parties may agree to submit to arbitration disputes
relating to the interim period, which cannot be settled through
conciliation. To this end, upon the agreement of both parties, the parties
will establish an Arbitration Committee.
ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN COOPERATION CONCERNING REGIONAL
Both parties view the multilateral working groups as an
appropriate instrument for promoting a "Marshall Plan", the regional programs
and other programs, including special programs for the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
as indicated in the protocol attached as Annex
This Declaration of Principles will enter into force one
month after its signing.
All protocols annexed to this Declaration of Principles and
Agreed Minutes pertaining thereto shall be regarded as an integral part
Done at Washington, D.C., this thirteenth day of September,
For the Government of Israel
For the P.L.O.
The United States of America
The Russian Federation
ANNEX I : PROTOCOL ON THE MODE AND CONDITIONS OF ELECTIONS
Palestinians of Jerusalem who live there will have the right
to participate in the election process, according to an agreement between
the two sides.
In addition, the election agreement should cover, among
other things, the following issues:
the system of elections;
the mode of the agreed supervision and international
observation and their personal composition; and
rules and regulations regarding election campaign,
including agreed arrangements for the organizing of mass media, and the
possibility of licensing a broadcasting and TV station.
The future status of displaced Palestinians who were
registered on 4th June 1967 will not be prejudiced because they are unable
to participate in the election process due to practical reasons.
ANNEX II : PROTOCOL ON WITHDRAWAL OF ISRAELI FORCES FROM THE GAZA STRIP AND
The two sides will conclude and sign within two months from
the date of entry into force of this Declaration of Principles, an agreement
on the withdrawal of Israeli military forces from the Gaza Strip and Jericho
area. This agreement will include comprehensive arrangements to apply in the
Gaza Strip and the Jericho area subsequent to the Israeli withdrawal.
Israel will implement an accelerated and scheduled
withdrawal of Israeli military forces from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area,
beginning immediately with the signing of the agreement on the Gaza Strip
and Jericho area and to be completed within a period not exceeding four
months after the signing of this agreement.
The above agreement will include, among other things:
Arrangements for a smooth and peaceful transfer of
authority from the Israeli military government and its Civil
Administration to the Palestinian representatives.
Structure, powers and responsibilities of the
Palestinian authority in these areas, except: external security,
settlements, Israelis, foreign relations, and other mutually agreed
Arrangements for the assumption of internal security and
public order by the Palestinian police force consisting of police
officers recruited locally and from abroad holding Jordanian passports
and Palestinian documents issued by Egypt). Those who will participate
in the Palestinian police force coming from abroad should be trained as
police and police officers.
A temporary international or foreign presence, as agreed
Establishment of a joint Palestinian-Israeli
Coordination and Cooperation Committee for mutual security purposes.
An economic development and stabilization program,
including the establishment of an Emergency Fund, to encourage foreign
investment, and financial and economic support. Both sides will
coordinate and cooperate jointly and unilaterally with regional and
international parties to support these aims.
Arrangements for a safe passage for persons and
transportation between the Gaza Strip and Jericho area.
The above agreement will include arrangements for
coordination between both parties regarding passages:
Gaza - Egypt; and
Jericho - Jordan.
The offices responsible for carrying out the powers and
responsibilities of the Palestinian authority under this Annex II and
Article VI of the Declaration of Principles will be located in the Gaza
Strip and in the Jericho area pending the inauguration of the Council.
Other than these agreed arrangements, the status of the Gaza
Strip and Jericho area will continue to be an integral part of the West Bank
and Gaza Strip, and will not be changed in the interim period.
ANNEX III: PROTOCOL ON ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN COOPERATION IN ECONOMIC AND
The two sides agree to establish an Israeli-Palestinian
continuing Committee for Economic Cooperation, focusing, among other things, on
Cooperation in the field of water, including a Water
Development Program prepared by experts from both sides, which will also
specify the mode of cooperation in the management of water resources in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip, and will include proposals for studies and plans
on water rights of each party, as well as on the equitable utilization of
joint water resources for implementation in and beyond the interim period.
Cooperation in the field of electricity, including an
Electricity Development Program, which will also specify the mode of
cooperation for the production, maintenance, purchase and sale of
Cooperation in the field of energy, including an Energy
Development Program, which will provide for the exploitation of oil and gas
for industrial purposes, particularly in the Gaza Strip and in the Negev,
and will encourage further joint exploitation of other energy resources.
This Program may also provide for the construction of a Petrochemical
industrial complex in the Gaza Strip and the construction of oil and gas
Cooperation in the field of finance, including a Financial
Development and Action Program for the encouragement of international
investment in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and in Israel, as well as
the establishment of a Palestinian Development Bank.
Cooperation in the field of transport and communications,
including a Program, which will define guidelines for the establishment of a
Gaza Sea Port Area, and will provide for the establishing of transport and
communications lines to and from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to Israel
and to other countries. In addition, this Program will provide for carrying
out the necessary construction of roads, railways, communications lines,
Cooperation in the field of trade, including studies, and
Trade Promotion Programs, which will encourage local, regional and
inter-regional trade, as well as a feasibility study of creating free trade
zones in the Gaza Strip and in Israel, mutual access to these zones, and
cooperation in other areas related to trade and commerce.
Cooperation in the field of industry, including Industrial
Development Programs, which will provide for the establishment of joint
Israeli- Palestinian Industrial Research and Development Centers, will
promote Palestinian-Israeli joint ventures, and provide guidelines for
cooperation in the textile, food, pharmaceutical, electronics, diamonds,
computer and science-based industries.
A program for cooperation in, and regulation of, labor
relations and cooperation in social welfare issues.
A Human Resources Development and Cooperation Plan,
providing for joint Israeli-Palestinian workshops and seminars, and for the
establishment of joint vocational training centers, research institutes and
An Environmental Protection Plan, providing for joint and/or
coordinated measures in this sphere.
A program for developing coordination and cooperation in the
field of communication and media.
Any other programs of mutual interest.
ANNEX IV: PROTOCOL ON ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN COOPERATION CONCERNING REGIONAL
The two sides will cooperate in the context of the
multilateral peace efforts in promoting a Development Program for the
region, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, to be initiated by the
G-7. The parties will request the G-7 to seek the participation in this
program of other interested states, such as members of the Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development, regional Arab states and institutions,
as well as members of the private sector.
The Development Program will consist of two elements:
an Economic Development Program for the 'West Bank and
the Gaza Strip.
a Regional Economic Development Program.
The Economic Development Program for the West Bank and
the Gaza strip will consist of the following elements:
A Social Rehabilitation Program, including a Housing
and Construction Program.
A Small and Medium Business Development Plan.
An Infrastructure Development Program (water,
electricity, transportation and communications, etc.)
A Human Resources Plan.
The Regional Economic Development Program may consist of
the following elements:
The establishment of a Middle East Development Fund,
as a first step, and a Middle East Development Bank, as a second
The development of a joint
Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian Plan for coordinated exploitation of
the Dead Sea area.
The Mediterranean Sea (Gaza) - Dead Sea Canal.
Regional Desalinization and other water development
A regional plan for agricultural development,
including a coordinated regional effort for the prevention of
Interconnection of electricity grids.
Regional cooperation for the transfer, distribution
and industrial exploitation of gas, oil and other energy resources.
A Regional Tourism, Transportation and
Telecommunications Development Plan.
Regional cooperation in other spheres.
The two sides will encourage the multilateral working
groups, and will coordinate towards their success. The two parties will
encourage intersessional activities, as well as pre-feasibility and
feasibility studies, within the various multilateral working groups.
AGREED MINUTES TO
THE DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES ON INTERIM SELF-GOVERNMENT ARRANGEMENTS
A. GENERAL UNDERSTANDINGS AND AGREEMENTS
Any powers and responsibilities transferred to the Palestinians
pursuant to the Declaration of Principles prior to the inauguration of the
Council will be subject to the same principles pertaining to Article IV, as set
out in these Agreed Minutes below.
B. SPECIFIC UNDERSTANDINGS AND AGREEMENTS
It is understood that:
Jurisdiction of the Council will cover West Bank and Gaza
Strip territory, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent
status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, military locations, and
The Council's jurisdiction will apply with regard to the
agreed powers, responsibilities, spheres and authorities transferred to it.
Article VI (2)
It is agreed that the transfer of authority will be as follows:
The Palestinian side will inform the Israeli side of the
names of the authorised Palestinians who will assume the powers, authorities
and responsibilities that will be transferred to the Palestinians according
to the Declaration of Principles in the following fields: education and
culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation, tourism, and any other
authorities agreed upon.
It is understood that the rights and obligations of these
offices will not be affected.
Each of the spheres described above will continue to enjoy
existing budgetary allocations in accordance with arrangements to be
mutually agreed upon. These arrangements also will provide for the necessary
adjustments required in order to take into account the taxes collected by
the direct taxation office.
Upon the execution of the Declaration of Principles, the
Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately commence negotiations
on a detailed plan for the transfer of authority on the above offices in
accordance with the above understandings.
Article VII (2)
The Interim Agreement will also include arrangements for
coordination and cooperation.
Article VII (5)
The withdrawal of the military government will not prevent
Israel from exercising the powers and responsibilities not transferred to the
It is understood that the Interim Agreement will include
arrangements for cooperation and coordination between the two parties in this
regard. It is also agreed that the transfer of powers and responsibilities to
the Palestinian police will be accomplished in a phased manner, as agreed in the
It is agreed that, upon the entry into force of the Declaration
of Principles, the Israeli and Palestinian delegations will exchange the names
of the individuals designated by them as members of the Joint
Israeli-Palestinian Liaison Committee.
It is further agreed that each side will have an equal number of
members in the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee will reach decisions by
agreement. The Joint Committee may add other technicians and experts, as
necessary. The Joint Committee will decide on the frequency and place or places
of its meetings.
It is understood that, subsequent to the Israeli withdrawal,
Israel will continue to be responsible for external security, and for internal
security and public order of settlements and Israelis. Israeli military forces
and civilians may continue to use roads freely within the Gaza Strip and the
Done at Washington, D.C., this thirteenth day of September, 1993.
For the Government of Israel
For the P.L.O.
The United States of America
The Russian Federation
Exchange of letters between PM Yitzhak Rabin and
PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat
1. LETTER FROM YASSER ARAFAT TO PRIME MINISTER
September 9, 1993
Prime Minister of Israel
Mr. Prime Minister,
The signing of the Declaration of Principles
marks a new era in the history of the Middle East. In firm conviction
thereof, I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments:
The PLO recognizes the right of the State of
Israel to exist in peace and security.
The PLO accepts United Nations Security
Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
The PLO commits itself to the Middle East
peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two
sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status
will be resolved through negotiations.
The PLO considers that the signing of the
Declaration of Principles constitutes a historic event, inaugurating a new
epoch of peaceful coexistence, free from violence and all other acts which
endanger peace and stability. Accordingly, the PLO renounces the use of
terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all
PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent
violations and discipline violators
In view of the pormise of a new era and the
signing of the Declaration of Principles and based on Palestinian acceptance
of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the PLO affirms that those
articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and
the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments
of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the
PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal
approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.
The Palestine Liberation Organization
2. LETTER FROM YASSER ARAFAT TO NORWEGIAN
September 9, 1993
Johan Jorgen Holst
Foreign Minister of Norway
Dear Minister Holst,
I would like top confirm to you that, upon
the signing of the Declaration of Principles, the PLO
encourages and calls upon the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip to take part in
the steps leading to the normalization of life, rejecting violence and
terrorism, contributing to peace
and stability and participating actively in shaping reconstruction, economic
The Palestine Liberation Organization
3. LETTER FROM PRIME MINISTER RABIN TO YASSER
September 9, 1993
The Palestinian Liberation Organization
In response to your letter of September 9,
1993, I wish to confirm to you that, in light of the PLO commitments
included in your letter, the Government nof Israel has decided to recognize
the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and commence
negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process.
Prime Minister of Israel
Chomsky on Oslo Peace
Courtesy: Z Magazine / ZNet, 2 October 2002
Z: Is there a qualitative change in what's happening now?
I think there is a qualitative change. The goal of the Oslo
process was accurately described in 1998 by Israeli academic Shlomo Ben-Ami just
before he joined the Barak government, going on to become Barak's chief
negotiator at Camp David in summer 2000.
Ben-Ami observed that "in practice, the Oslo agreements were
founded on a neo-colonialist basis, on a life of dependence of one on the other
With these goals, the Clinton-Rabin-Peres agreements were
designed to impose on the Palestinians " almost total dependence on Israel,"
creating "an extended colonial situation," which is expected to be the
"permanent basis" for "a situation of dependence."
The function of the Palestinian Authority (PA) was to
control the domestic population of the Israeli-run neocolonial dependency.
That is the way the process unfolded, step by step, including the Camp David
The Clinton-Barak stand (left vague and unambiguous) was hailed
here as "remarkable" and "magnanimous," but a look at the facts made it clear
that it was -- as commonly described in Israel -- a Bantustan proposal; that is
presumably the reason why maps were carefully avoided in the US mainstream.
It is true that Clinton-Barak advanced a few steps towards a
Bantustan-style settlement of the kind that South Africa instituted in the
darkest days of Apartheid. Just prior to Camp David, West Bank Palestinians were
confined to over 200 scattered areas, and Clinton-Barak did propose an
improvement: consolidation to three cantons, under Israeli control, virtually
separated from one another and from the fourth canton, a small area of East
Jerusalem, the center of Palestinian life and of communications in the region.
And of course separated from Gaza, where the outcome was left
unclear. But now that plan has apparently been shelved in favor of demolition of
the PA. That means destruction of the institutions of the potential Bantustan
that was planned by Clinton and his Israeli partners; in thelast few days, even
a human rights center. The Palestinian figures who were designated to be the
counterpart of the Black leaders of the Bantustans are also under attack, though
not killed, presumably becauseof the international consequences.
The prominent Israeli scholar Ze'ev Sternhell writes that the government "is no
longer ashamed to speak of war when what they are really engaged in is colonial
policing, which recalls the takeover by the white police of the poor
neighborhoods of the blacks in South Africa during the apartheid era." This new
policy is a regression below the Bantustan model of South Africa 40 years ago to
which Clinton-Rabin-Peres-Barak and their associates aspired in the Oslo "peace
None of this will come as a surprise to those who have been reading critical
analyses for the past 10 years, including plenty of material posted regularly on
Znet, reviewing developments as they proceeded. Exactly how the Israeli
leadership intends to implement these programs is unclear -- to them too, I
presume. It is convenient in the US, and the West, to blame Israel and
particularly Sharon, but that is unfair and hardly honest. Many of Sharon's
worst atrocities were carried out under Labor governments. Peres comes close to
Sharon as a war criminal. Furthermore, the prime responsibility lies in
Washington, and has for 30 years. That is true of the general diplomatic
framework, and also of particular actions. Israel can act within the limits
established by the master in Washington, rarely beyond.
Z: What's the meaning of Friday's Security Council Resolution?
The primary issue was whether there would be a demand for immediate Israeli
withdrawal from Ramallah and other Palestinian areas that the Israeli army had
entered in the current offensive, or at least a deadline for such withdrawal.
The US position evidently prevailed: there is only a vague call for "withdrawal
of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities," no time frame specified. The
Resolution therefore accords with the official US stand, largely reiterated in
the press: Israel is under attack and has the right of self-defense, but
shouldn't go too far in punishing Palestinians, at least too visibly.
The facts -- hardly controversial -- are quite different.
Palestinians have been trying to survive under Israeli military occupation, now
in its 35th year. It has been harsh and brutal throughout, thanks to decisive US
military and economic support, and diplomatic protection, including the barring
of the long-standing international consensus on a peaceful political settlement.
There is no symmetry in this confrontation, not the slightest, and to frame it
in terms of Israeli self-defense goes beyond even standard forms of distortion
in the interests of power. The harshest condemnations of Palestinian terror,
which are proper and have been for over 30 years, leave these basic facts
In scrupulously evading the central immediate issues, the Friday Resolution is
similar to the Security Council Resolution of March 12, which elicited much
surprise and favorable notice because it not only was not vetoed by the US, in
the usual pattern, but was actually initiated by Washington. The Resolution
called for a "vision" of a Palestinian state. It therefore did not rise to the
level of South Africa 40 years ago when the Apartheid regime did not merely
announce a "vision" but actually established Black-run states that were at least
as viable and legitimate as what the US and Israel had been planning for the
Z: What is the U.S. up to now? What U.S. interests are at stake at this
The US is a global power. What happens in Israel- Palestine is a sidelight.
There are many factors entering into US policies. Chief among them in this
region of the world is control over the world's major energy resources. The
US-Israel alliance took shape in that context. By 1958, the National Security
Council concluded that a "logical corollary" of opposition to growing Arab
nationalism "would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-Western power
left in the Middle East." That is an exaggeration, but an affirmation of the
general strategic analysis, which identified indigenous nationalism as the
primary threat (as elsewhere in the Third World); typically called "Communist,"
though it is commonly recognized in the internal record that this is a term of
propaganda and that Cold War issues were often marginal, as in the crucial year
The alliance became firm in 1967, when Israel performed an important service for
US power by destroying the main forces of secular Arab nationalism, considered a
very serious threat to US domination of the Gulf region. So matters continued,
after the collapse of the USSR as well. By now the US-Israel-Turkey alliance is
a centerpiece of US strategy, and Israel is virtually a US military base, also
closely integrated with the militarized US high- -tech economy. Within that
persistent framework, the US naturally supports Israeli repression of the
Palestinians and integration of the occupied territories, including the
neocolonial project outlined by Ben-Ami, though specific policy choices have to
be made depending on circumstances.
Right now, Bush planners continue to block steps towards diplomatic settlement,
or even reduction of violence; that is the meaning, for example, of their veto
of the Dec. 15 2001 Security Council Resolution calling for steps towards
implementing the US Mitchell plan and introduction of international monitors to
supervise the reduction of violence.
For similar reasons, the US boycotted the Dec. 5 international meetings in
Geneva (including the EU, even Britain) which reaffirmed that the Fourth Geneva
Convention applies to the occupied territories, so that critically important
US-Israeli actions there are "grave breaches" of the Convention - war crimes, in
simple terms - as the Geneva declaration elaborated. That merely reaffirmed the
Security Council Resolution of October 2000 (US abstaining), which held once
again that the Convention applied to the occupied territories. That had been the
official US position as well, stated formally, for example, by George Bush I
when he was UN Ambassador.
The US regularly abstains or boycotts in such cases, not wanting to take a
public stand in opposition to core principles of international law, particularly
in the light of the circumstances under which the Conventions were enacted: to
criminalize formally the atrocities of the Nazis, including their actions in the
territories they occupied. The media and intellectual culture generally
cooperate by their own "boycott" of these unwelcome facts: in particular, the
fact that as a High Contracting Party, the US government is legally obligated by
solemn treaty to punish violators of the Conventions, including its own
political leadership. That's only a small sample. Meanwhile the flow of arms and
economic support for maintaining the occupation by force and terror and
extending settlements continues without any pause.
Z: What's your opinion of the Arab summit?
The Arab summit led to general acceptance of the Saudi Arabian plan, which
reiterated the basic principles of the long-standing international consensus:
Israel should withdraw from the occupied territories in the context of a general
peace agreement that would guarantee the right of every state in the region,
including Israel and a new Palestinian State, to peace and security within
recognized borders (the basic wording of UN 242, amplified to include a
There is nothing new about this. These are the basic terms of the Security
Council resolution of January 1976 backed by virtually the entire world,
including the leading Arab states, the PLO, Europe, the Soviet bloc, the
non-aligned countries -- in fact, everyone who mattered. It was opposed by
Israel and vetoed by the US, thereby vetoed from history. Subsequent and similar
initiatives from the Arab states, the PLO, and Western Europe were blocked by
the US, continuing to the present. That includes the 1981 Fahd plan. That record
too has been effectively vetoed from history, for the usual reasons.
US rejectionism in fact goes back 5 years earlier, to February 1971, when
President Sadat of Egypt offered Israel a full peace treaty in return for
Israeli withdrawal from Egyptian territory, not even bringing up Palestinian
national rights or the fate of the other occupied territories. Israel's Labor
government recognized this as a genuine peace offer, but decided to reject it,
intending to extend its settlements to northeastern Sinai; that it soon did,
with extreme brutality, the immediate cause for the 1973 war.
The plan for the Palestinians under military occupation was described frankly to
his Cabinet colleagues by Moshe Dayan, one of the Labor leaders more sympathetic
to the Palestinian plight. Israel should make it clear that "we have no
solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave,
and we will see where this process leads."
Following that recommendation, the guiding principle of the
occupation has been incessant and degrading humiliation, along with torture,
terror, destruction of property, displacement and settlement, and takeover of
basic resources, crucially water. Sadat's 1971 offer conformed to official US
policy, but Kissinger succeeded in instituting his preference for what he called
"stalemate": no negotiations, only force. Jordanian peace offers were also
Since that time, official US policy has kept to the international consensus on
withdrawal (until Clinton, who effectively rescinded UN resolutions and
considerations of international law); but in practice, policy has followed the
Kissinger guidelines, accepting negotiations only when compelled to do so, as
Kissinger was after the near-debacle of the 1973 war for which he shares major
responsibility, and under the conditions that Ben-Ami articulated.
Official doctrine instructs us to focus attention on the Arab summit, as if the
Arab states and the PLO are the problem, in particular, their intention to drive
Israel into the sea. Coverage presents the basic problem as vacillation,
reservations, and qualifications in the Arab world. There is little that one can
say in favor of the Arab states and the PLO, but these claims are simply untrue,
as a look at the record quickly reveals.
The more serious press recognized that the Saudi plan largely reiterated the
Saudi Fahd Plan of 1981, claiming that that initiative was undermined by Arab
refusal to accept the existence of Israel. The facts are again quite different.
The 1981 plan was undermined by an Israeli reaction that even its mainstream
press condemned as "hysterical," backed by the US. That includes Shimon Peres
and other alleged doves, who warned that acceptance of the Fahd plan would
"threaten Israel's very existence."
An indication of the hysteria is the reaction of Israel's President Haim Herzog,
also considered a dove. He charged that the "real author" of the Fahd plan was
the PLO, and that it was even more extreme than the January 1976 Security
Council resolution that was "prepared by" the PLO, at the time when he was
Israel's UN Ambassador. These claims can hardly be true, but they are an
indication of the desperate fear of a political settlement on the part of
Israeli doves, backed throughout by the US.
The basic problem then, as now, traces back to Washington, which has
persistently backed Israel's rejection of a political settlement in terms of the
broad international consensus, reiterated in essentials in the current Saudi
proposals. Until such elementary facts as these are permitted to enter into
discussion, displacing the standard misrepresentation and deceit, discussion is
mostly beside the point. And we should not be drawn into it -- for example, by
implicitly accepting the assumption that developments at the Arab summit are a
critical problem. They have significance, of course, but it is secondary. The
primary problems are right here, and it is our responsibility to face them and
deal with them, not to displace them to others.