Two Views: Does Geneva initiative spell hope or gloom for Israel Fine print exposes security nightm

When the Geneva initiative was first unveiled two weeks ago, it was immediately clear that it constituted a gross violation of democratic norms: A small band of opposition figures, acting without the elected government’s knowledge or consent, had negotiated a draft “peace agreement” with an enemy, with the explicit aim of generating international pressure on future governments to endorse the concessions contained therein.

The full extent of the damage, however, became evident only last Friday, with publication of the document’s full text — because a close reading makes it clear that this is an agreement to which no sane government could ever consent.

Even before last Friday’s publication, it was known that the Israeli negotiators had conceded almost completely on territorial issues, granting the Palestinians most of eastern Jerusalem, including Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount; most of the West Bank, including major settlements, such as Efrat and Ariel, that even the most dovish Israeli governments have always insisted on keeping; and part of the Negev, as compensation for border adjustments on the West Bank.

It was also evident that the agreement would create a security nightmare in Jerusalem (among other places), subjecting every neighborhood of the city to the fate suffered by Gilo during the current intifada — that of being within easy shooting range of sovereign Palestinian territory.

But the territorial concessions are only the tip of the iceberg. There is also, for instance, the fact that all disputes over implementation of the agreement would be resolved by an implementation and verification group composed of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and various other countries.

Furthermore, the document would mortgage the country’s economic future by committing it in advance to pay reparations in an amount that Israel would have little voice in determining. Specifically, it establishes an international commission composed of Israel, the Palestinian state, the United Nations, the United States, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, all of Israel’s Arab neighbors, the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Norway, Japan, the World Bank and Russia. In short, in would be a commission on which Israel is overwhelmingly outnumbered — and one that is instructed to appoint a panel of experts to estimate the value of Palestini

What is perhaps most astonishing, however, is just how little the Israeli team obtained in exchange for all its concessions.

According to chief negotiator Yossi Beilin, the agreement provides Israel with three major achievements:

The first relates to security. The Palestinian state will be demilitarized, and it will fight terror by disarming militias and arresting terrorists. Considering that the Palestinians have made identical pledges on demilitarization and terror in no less than five previous signed agreements — and that these pledges have been massively violated every time — why another such pledge should be considered an achievement is an enigma.

Second, claims Beilin, the agreement includes Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. This, it turns out, is simply false: The agreement merely “recognize[s] Palestine and Israel as the homelands of their respective peoples.” Beilin can assert that Israel’s “respective people” is the Jewish people, but the plain meaning of the text is that Israel is the homeland of its inhabitants, Jewish and Arab alike — in short, a binational state.

In short, what the Palestinians conceded — the “right” to flood Israel with hundreds of thousands of refugees — was something they never had the power to carry out in the first place. Yet Israel would pay for this nonexistent concession with real territory, real money and real security risks.

That may be Beilin’s idea of a good deal. But it is hard to imagine a majority of Israelis agreeing with him.

Evelyn Gordon is a veteran journalist and commentator.

This column appeared previously in The Jerusalem Post