Conservatives Blast Left-Wing Israelis' Deal With Palestinians

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israeli and American conservatives are blasting negotiations between far-left Israelis and Palestinians that reportedly produced a "peace deal."

At a meeting in Jordan, the two factions discussed Israel giving up sovereignty over the Temple Mount and the Palestinians giving up the so-called "right of return" for Palestinian refugees.

Left-wing Israeli intellectuals, politicians and retired military personnel -- led by one of the architects of the Oslo process, Yossi Beilin -- met over the weekend with their Palestinian counterparts, headed by former Palestinian Authority Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, to wrap up the details of a plan known as the "Geneva initiative."

According to reports about the content of the agreement, which was not signed, the Palestinians would concede their longstanding demand that several hundred thousand refugees displaced in 1948 and millions of their descendants be allowed to move into Israel.

Israel would withdraw from most of the West Bank, including some large Jewish settlements, and Jerusalem would be divided with the Palestinians taking control of the Temple Mount.

The Palestinians would promise to tackle the terror issue and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, reports have said.

'A shame'

The Israeli government had no official reaction but Israeli ministers condemned the proposed agreement.

Uzi Landau, the minister who oversees US-Israeli strategic dialogue, said he was "furious" about the meetings and the reported deal.

Israel came to its senses and understood that it cannot negotiate with terrorists and fired these people in democratic elections, Landau said.

"[They were] thrown out of office by the biggest majority ever and now they have the audacity [to continue with their]... destructive strategy," Landau said.

Worse still, Israel has finally convinced the international community that the only way to deal with terror is "either to fight the terrorists or we fight you. [Now] these guys go out and shake hands with the terrorists and those that send them," he added.

Tourism Minister Benny Elon, who has already come up with his own very different alternative to the Oslo Accords and President Bush's road map, called the Israeli-Palestinian meetings "a shame."

The Israeli right considers the Oslo Accords, which Israel and the PLO signed on the White House lawn in 1993, a failure. Critics have said that President Bush''s "road map" peace plan is simply a reconstitution of those accords.

"I think it''s a shame after the disaster of Oslo...not to learn from the experience and to give the same people that created this disaster, Yossi Beilin...a chance to create more bloodshed, I think its chutzpah [gall]," Elon told

"The lesson we have to learn from Oslo -- that started with high expectations and concluded with deep disappointments -- is not that Mr. [PA Chairman Yasser] Arafat is not the partner or [Former PA Prime Minister] Abu Mazen is not the partner or ... [PA Prime Minister] Abu Ala, not to exchange Abus, this is not the issue.

"The majority [of PA leaders] as an entity, this was devastating to take a bunch of gangsters from Tunis and to call them Authority and to try to build a state with them, this is the disaster," Elon said, referring to the PLO base headed by Arafat before Israel allowed him to come to the territories with the signing of the peace agreements.

Part of Elon''s plan envisions Jordan becoming the representative of the Palestinians as it was until 1988, after the first intifadah (Palestinian uprising) started.

American conservatives who are in Jerusalem for a three-day conference also criticized the move.

"This would be a most unusual event in the United States. In fact it would be illegal...for a private citizen to reach an agreement with representatives of a foreign government or foreign entity," said Richard Perle, from the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington.

"The pattern of diplomacy since September 1993 has been that every time the diplomacy fails, the Israeli side offers more in hopes that by giving away more and demanding less, goodwill will be engendered and a resolution will be achieved," said Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum. "It''s never worked until now."

Nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas compared the situation to a mortgage, where the Palestinians believe they own all the land and Israel continues to try to keep its portion by making additional payments.

"The people [the Palestinians] who think they hold the title to the land don''t want just a part of it, they want all of it, and yet so many in the West, including some here in Israel, continue to say well let us throw some more payments at you," Thomas said.

"The other side says, 'No because we believe we own all of it, we want all of it,' and so all of these formulas are doomed at the beginning because they are based on the wrong concept," Thomas added.

Arafat, meanwhile, said that the document didn''t have official standing. He added that it was PA policy "not to undercut any attempt to reach the peace of the brave."

But representatives of the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine both reportedly rejected such an agreement. Both groups oppose any negotiated settlement with Israel.

Over the last few days Israeli media has been rife with discussions about the agreement, a copy of which reportedly will be mailed to every Israeli.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who headed the center-left Labor party, said it was a pity that the Labor party had allowed some of its members to draft such a "delusional" peace plan.

"This is a fictive and slightly peculiar agreement...that clearly harms the interests of the State of Israel," Barak was quoted as saying. Barak went further than any other Israeli leader in offering concessions to Arafat at a U.S.-sponsored summit at Camp David in the summer of 2000.

Following the collapse of the summit, which former President Bill Clinton blamed on Arafat, widespread Palestinian violence and terrorism erupted.