The Irish Times
November 4, 2000
SECTION: CITY EDITION; WORLD NEWS; Pg. 12
LENGTH: 1021 words
HEADLINE: Israel accused of turning peace process into a sham, backed
by US A respected French academic tells Lara Marlowe that Israeli
leaders have been negotiating in bad faith
BODY: What if, for the past nine years, the "peace process" was
nothing more than a sham, a "non-negotiation" carried out by Israel in
bad faith, the implementation of each accord slowed and revised by
successive Israeli leaders, with Washington's total support?
This serious accusation is levelled by a respected academic from one
of France's most prominent political families. Prof Alain Joxe is the
director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Research on Peace and
Strategic Studies (CIRPES) at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences
Sociales. He is the son of Louis Joxe, Gen de Gaulle's cabinet
minister, who signed the Evian Accords that ended the Algerian war,
and the brother of Pierre Joxe, a former socialist minister of the
interior and defence.
Prof Joxe has carried out a detailed study of the half-dozen major
accords and innumerable understandings concluded between Israel and
the Palestinians since the Madrid Conference in 1991. "At the end of
the day, not a single one of the agreements was respected," he says.
"The Israelis violated the accords and they are the ones who were
meant to carry them out, because they are much stronger."
The Oslo II (Taba) agreement, concluded by Yitzhak Rabin in September
1995, the month before he was assassinated by a Jewish gunman,
promised three Israeli withdrawals - from zone A (under Palestinian
control), zone B (under Israeli military control in co-operation with
the Palestinians) and zone C (purely Israeli control) to be completed
by October 1997.
The final status agreement covering Jerusalem, refugees, water and the
settlements was to have been completed by October 1999, by which time
the occupation was supposed to be over.
Intermediary accords invariably revised conditions to the detriment
the Palestinians. In January 1997 a handful of Israeli settlers were
granted 20 per cent of Hebron despite the fact that Oslo committed the
Israelis to leaving all West Bank towns.
By October 1998, a year late, Israel had not carried out the Taba
accords. Benjamin Netanyahu negotiated a new agreement at Wye River,
which divided the second redeployment promised at Taba into two
phases, only the first of which he carried out.
Mr Netanyahu promised to reduce the percentage of West Bank land under
exclusively Israeli control (zone C) from 72 per cent to 59 per cent,
transferring 41 per cent of the West Bank to zones A and B.
Then at Sharm el-Sheikh in September 1999 Ehud Barak, mistakenly
perceived as a "dove", reneged on the agreement made by Mr Netanyahu
at Wye River, fragmenting Netanyahu's two phases into three, the first
of which would transfer 7 per cent from zone C to zone B.
Implementation of the agreements stopped there. Even if the Sharm
el-Sheikh accords had been carried out, Prof Joxe notes, the
Palestinians would have gained exclusive control over only 18.1 per
cent of the West Bank.
"For the Israelis these were fake negotiations during which the
settlements in the West Bank and Gaza grew and the daily life of
Palestinians worsened," Prof Joxe concludes. For him, the constant
renegotiation of accords already concluded and the expansion of
Israeli settlements on occupied land - their population has nearly
doubled from 80,000 to 150,000 since Oslo - are proof of Israel's bad
Oslo forbade both parties from taking "unilateral steps". Yet the US
has done nothing to stop Israel's continuing unilateral seizure of
Twice in recent weeks I heard Israeli cabinet Ministers - Shimon Peres
and Shlomo BenAmi - claim on French and British radio that "the
occupation is finished".
"These are pure lies," Prof Joxe responds. "If the occupation were
over, there would be no problem. The occupation is not over; we're
seeing it every day. The Israelis never completed the withdrawals they
were supposed to make, so they are still in contact with the
Bantustans, the towns they have liberated.
"They freed zone A, the town centres. And then they never left the
suburbs. They're holding the towns under siege and occupying the
Another myth has grown up around the July 2000 meeting at Camp David,
where Yasser Arafat refused to accept a final agreement that did not
even address the questions of refugees and access to water. Israeli
officials now claim that Arafat was offered 94 per cent of the West
Bank and sovereignty over East Jerusalem.
"It meant 94 per cent of whatever the Israelis felt like giving him,"
Prof Joxe says. Israeli and US officials went into verbal acrobatics
over Jerusalem, evoking "a sort of sovereignty" over the Al Aqsa
mosque, whereby the Palestinians owned the surface but the ground
beneath it belonged to Israel.
Over the years, violence by Palestinians has been used as a pretext
Israel for delaying troop withdrawals. "The withdrawals would have
made it possible to control the violence," Prof Joxe says. "What is
happening today is occurring because they haven't withdrawn, because
there is contact between them. So they get stones thrown at them and
they say, 'We're under attack'."
Israeli politics are now dominated by two army generals, Ehud Barak
and Ariel Sharon. Prof Joxe compares the situation to Algeria in 1962.
"The Algerian people had been crushed militarily, like the
Palestinians. But they were not crushed politically, and de Gaulle
decided to make peace." He says the Israeli army cannot understand
that it is possible to win militarily but lose politically.
Application of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 - total
withdrawal of all Israelis, soldiers and settlers alike, from the
occupied territories - "is the only legal solution in terms of
international law", Prof Joxe says. "If they would only leave as they
have been told to, they could have peace."
But compliance with the resolutions is not considered by the Israelis.
"The Israelis are helped unconditionally by the US. That's why they
don't even respect their own agreements. If there's going to be a
solution, the US must put very strong pressure on Mr Barak. If they
don't do that, there can be no peace. The massacre will continue."