Monday, September 18, 2006


Tireless Optimist

Shimon Peres gave an interview to "London & Kirshenbaum" (channel 10). London & Kirshenbaum were considered for a long time a dieing breed. They are older, respect their guests in the show and also take their answers with a grain of salt. When the interview was almost over London said to Shimon Peres, "as always you are a tireless optimist". Peres, who is already 80 and something years old, smiled and answered "aren't you being tired from being so pessimistic?".

Shimon presented his "new" plan for the Middle East which had two parallel axes (the plural of axis, not a sharp metal that cuts trees). The first axis is economic. He would like to see a big industrial zone near the Israeli-Gazza border (the last one was closed after the disengagement from Gazza). Peres admitted that the international donations of 1 billion dollars that the Palestinian Authority got every year, was the source of corruption and bloated organizations, and that is why the PLO lost the elections to the Hamas. An economical change will force a political change, so he claims. Like China, Russia and India the economics will force a change to a more liberal regime. The second axis is diplomatic. Israel and the Palestine are required to take trust building actions (such as releasing Palestinian prisoners by the Israelis and the release of the Israeli soldier by the Hamas). This would not bring peace but would allow the conditions for the beginning of piece talks. Regarding the Palestinian rumors to stick to the Saud's offer (which calls for recognizing Israel by all Arab states in exchange for Israeli complete withdrawal to 1967 borders), Peres said that this offer is a start but it does not deal with the two most important issues for the arab world – Jerusalem, and the right of return.

Jerusalem is a long time fetish of both the Israelis and the Palestines backed up by strong theological reasoning. Both claim that Jerusalem is their eternal capital city. The right of return is a Palestine wish that they will be offered their houses that they abandoned in the Israeli independence war in 1948 (including all of the original families' offspring) – which in practice means a flux of millions of Palestines into Israel and the practical destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.

When thinking about what Peres claimed we need to keep in mind:
1) Some of the "facts" that Peres uses to strengthen his arguments are his making. For us these are facts, for politicians like Peres these are outcomes of an Israeli policy (which to the most part Shimon Perez was part of).
2) The rest of the facts were chosen such to support his arguments. Yes, modern economics requires liberal changes, but they also require a leader that has a vision and the ability to pursue these changes. The Hamas was voted to fight the corruption but they have not created any real democratic instrument to fight the corruption in the Palestinian Authotiry.
3) The Palestinian Authority is required to collect weapons from citizens and fractions that oppose their policy. Any move towards Israel by the official authority can be easily jeopardized by the opposition with an attack on Israel. Since both the PLO and the Hamas are armed, but are not strong enough to disarm each other, a unity government was proposed.

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