Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Political Upheaval in Israel and Peace Negotiations
HIRAYAMA Kentaro / Former NHK commentator

September 30, 2008
The Israeli government party Kadima elected Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as its leader, defeating Minister of Transportation Shaul Mofaz, her hawkish opposing candidate, following the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who faced criminal indictment in corruption probes. Although Livni intends to keep the past policy-line of creating a state of Palestine, she will have to call for general elections in three months unless she succeeds within 42 days in selecting the members of a new cabinet for a coalition government. Moreover, there are possibilities that former Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu who had opposed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians might come back as leader of the ruling party, and in the United States the presidential election will take place at around the same time which might bring about a blank and meandering period for peace negotiations to proceed in the Middle East.

Now let us look back upon the past record of how much progress the peace talks with the Palestinian side have achieved under the Olmert administration. Whether it was due to his political intention to stay in power, or his wish to have his name recorded in history, nobody knows. Whatever his motives may be, however, Olmert intentionally leaked to some members of the Israeli press the general outline of the "latest Israeli proposal" in secret negotiations with the Palestinians as the party leader re-election time approached. The information said: Israel will annex 7 percent of the adjoining parcels of land on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in exchange, Palestine will get land adjacent to Gaza from Israeli territory the size of which is 5.5% of the West Bank. The "sovereignty" of the road linking the "West Bank" with Gaza would be handed over to Palestinians, thus making ground for an argument that Israel returned 100% of occupied land to Palestinians. Compared to the past Israeli position that the area to be annexed by Israel would be somewhere around 12 to 13 percent, it is certain that the Israeli side has apparently offered a greater concession.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian side is not too happy about the Israeli proposal which does not say anything about the handover of the east Jerusalem or the right of return of the Palestinian refugees broken up by the birth of the state of Israel. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos' statement, however, that PLO's Chairman Mahmout Abbas is seriously studying the Israeli proposition is drawing world-wide attention.

Another thing worthy of note is the U.S. government's attitude. American Consul General in Jerusalem who was in charge of the Palestinian Authority quoting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said in regard to the outline of the state of Palestine that the basis of the border line should be the one which existed before the 1967 war, including east Jerusalem, but this could be changeable by mutual consent. The Palestinian newspapers reported it and the Israeli press quoted the report. Right-wingers in Israel immediately expressed criticism but it is interesting the U.S. government has not denied or made any explanation about it. Unfortunately, the comment came too late.

Since the 1967 war, the international community, including the U.S., has referred to the U.N. Security Council resolution 242 as the legal basis of peace in the Middle East, whose chief provision is the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 war and peaceful coexistence of states "within secure and recognized boundaries." Israel, however, has maintained that the boundaries prior to the ‘67 conflict when Arab countries had not acknowledged Israel as a state were nothing but simple "ceasefire lines," and the so-called "occupied territories" beyond the lines were just "disputed regions." Only at the stage when the boundaries and the areas from where Israelis withdraw are determined by agreement with the Palestinian side, according to Israeli interpretation it will become clear for the first time where the occupied territories were. Thus, it is a very cynical situation.

Israel's hard-line approach against the fourth Geneva Convention (Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949)which condemns settlements in occupied areas as illegal as well as successive American governments' unclear attitude toward the illegality of the occupied lands are considered to be attributable to the ambiguousness of the convention terms.

Meanwhile, since the start of the 21st century, an understanding about the creation of an independent state of Palestine has been confirmed in the international society, including the U.N. Security Council, and the issue of boundaries is under review from the standpoint of a contiguous and viable state of Palestine. The Hague International Court of Justice ruled the "separation wall" built by Israel in the West Bank illegal and called for a comprehensive solution through negotiation. This is also an indication of change of trends in the current situation.

It is strongly hoped, therefore, that the in-coming administrations in America and Israel will pay due attention to the new trends and endeavor to make progress in peace negotiations.

The Writer is a former NHK commentator.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

平山健太郎 / 元NHK解説委員

2008年 9月 30日





しかし21世紀に入り、パレスチナ独立国家の創立という処方箋が安保理を含めた国際社会の中で定着するようになって、「連続性を持ち、自立可能な」(contiguous and viable)パレスチナ国土の輪郭という観点から問題が見直されている・・・と言ってよかろう。ハーグの国際司法裁判所が、イスラエル政府が建設中の西岸での{分離壁}を国際法上の違法行為であると断定した上、交渉による包括的な解決を呼びかけているのも、流れの変化をうかがわせる動きだ。


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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Political Upheaval in Israel and Peace Negotiations