Egypt will keep treaty, Presidents Conference hears (JERUSALEM POST) By GREER FAY CASHMAN 02/23/12)
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Egypt has more to lose than to gain if it abrogates the peace treaty
with Israel, international law expert Prof. Ruth Lapidot told the
annual Jerusalem convention of the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations on Wednesday.
Lapidot noted that under international law, Egypt is obligated to
abide by treaties in line with the principles of the continuity of
states regardless of changes in the regime. Continuity of states
means that the country and the people remain the same even if the
government changes, she explained.
There are certain conditions under which a state can repudiate a
treaty, she said, for example the complete disregard of its essential
provisions by one of the parties.
The only issue on which Egypt may have cause for complaint, Lapidot
observed, was the limitations on its forces in Sinai. The Egyptians
don’t like this concept, but settled for this wording in preference
to demilitarization of the peninsula. But this is not an issue that
can spearhead the breaking of a treaty. It is an issue that can be
negotiated, she insisted. In fact the treaty provides for peaceful
negotiation of disputes.
Prof. Shlomo Avineri, professor of political science at the Hebrew
University and a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry,
spoke of the possibility of a peace treaty with the Palestinian
Eventually there will be a peace treaty based on a two-nation
solution, and more or less along the pre-1967 borders, he said, “but
it won’t happen any time soon.”
Avineri doubted whether the Netanyahu administration could make any
further headway with the PA than the “moderate Olmert
administration.” Moreover he said, the Olmert government had been
committed to a two-state solution in a very explicit way. Both Olmert
and PA President Mahmoud Abbas had an interest in seeing a positive
outcome to the negotiations, said Avineri, who speculated that if
Olmert had succeeded, he would probably still be prime minister and
the “cloud” hanging over his head would have taken a back seat.
For Abbas, a positive outcome would have been interpreted as a coup
What can be learned from the failure of a “more moderate government”
is that the gaps on both sides run deep said Avineri, citing borders
and settlements, Jerusalem, refugees and security as the most
pertinent points of difference.
Although logical solutions might come up in academic discussions, in
reality they wouldn’t work, Avineri said.
He cited a scenario whereby Israel had control of the Western Wall
while Palestinians controlled the Dome of the Rock on the Temple
Mount. If Jews violated the regulations on the Temple Mount or
Palestinians threw rocks at Jews praying at the Western Wall, which
police force – the Israeli or the Palestinian – would be responsible
for restoring order without creating an international incident,
It was very difficult to find an acceptable solution, because at the
end of the day, sovereignty defined who had the legitimate right to
use force, he said.
Avineri considered it a mistake on Israel’s part to be “obsessed”
with a final-status agreement, and pointed to conflict areas in other
parts of the world where there is no final-status agreement but there
are partial agreements and in some cases unilateral measures. He said
Israel should adopt this method of progress and suggested that in
this context it should continue to take down roadblocks so as to
allow Palestinians greater freedom of movement and should stop
settlement construction in the West Bank, so as to not exacerbate the
“We need a paradigm change from conflict resolution to conflict
management, because this is the only realistic thing that is
achievable,” Avineri said.
He and Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public
Affairs and a former adviser to Prime Ministers Binyamin Netanyahu
and Ariel Sharon, though on different sides of the political fence,
agreed that Israeli negotiators who for more than a decade repeated
the refrain that the two sides had never been so close to a peace
agreement, were deluding themselves and the public.
This delusion also permeated a series of American administrations,
and part of the problem with President Barack Obama, according to
Gold, was that his administration received conventional wisdom that
has been circulating around Washington for a long time. Obama thinks
that if Israel stops building settlements and takes a few other
steps, this will put an end to the conflict, but Abbas has said in
interviews with both the American and the Israeli media that the gaps
are too large in every area.
This being the case, Gold asked why one American government after
another went after a prize that couldn’t be achieved.
His answer: back channel diplomacy.
The Americans brought the Palestinians and the Israelis together –
usually in Scandinavian hotels, he said, and there was a lot of
eating and drinking and good feeling.
But there was little likelihood of things that were said in Stockholm
being repeated at Camp David.
“When you talk to American diplomats, no one wants to sound
pessimistic. If you give a harsh reading of reality, you might be
blamed for destroying the peace talks,” he said.
Gold was less optimistic than Avineri about the possibility of a
peace agreement with the Palestinians. Referring to the four problem
issues mentioned by Avineri, Gold said: “The notion that these are
all bridgeable issues is wrong. The notion that Israel will withdraw
to the ’67 lines is not in the cards, and the sooner the
international community understands that, the better off we’re going
to be.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 02/23/12)
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