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JEFF JACOBY

Geneva is a blueprint for war, not peace

THE INTERNATIONAL applause greeting the so-called Geneva Accord -- the unofficial Israeli-Palestinian "peace" agreement formally presented in Switzerland this week -- is a vivid illustration of the world's contempt for the Jewish state. It is also historically alarming. For the fervent acclaim the accord has drawn resembles nothing so much as the jubilation that greeted the Munich Accord of 1938, when Neville Chamberlain agreed to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in order to placate Adolf Hitler.

 

It is hard to say which is more atrocious, the content of the Geneva document or the process that produced it. Its principal authors are Yasser Abed Rabbo, a longtime lackey of PLO chieftain Yasser Arafat, and Yossi Beilin, the reviled leader of Israel's appeasement lobby. Beilin -- whose far-left Meretz party was trounced so badly in the last election that he lost his seat in parliament -- has no more standing to negotiate with the PLO than Pat Buchanan has to negotiate with North Korea. Buchanan would be scorned if he ever pulled such a stunt. Beilin should be, too.

Instead, he and Rabbo have been treated as heroes. Jimmy Carter and Lech Walesa joined their Geneva ceremony, Nelson Mandela contributed video greetings, and endorsements came in from Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Jacques Chirac. Secretary of State Colin Powell not only sent his own letter of encouragement, he is inviting Beilin and Rabbo to meet with him -- a calculated slap at Israel's government, which has strongly condemned the accord.

As well it should. The premise of the Geneva agreement is that Israeli surrender will bring Mideast peace. It would require Israel to relinquish land, weaken its security, and yield tangible assets to the Palestinians. In exchange, the Palestinians would pledge to stop killing Israelis. Sound familiar? It's the 1993 Oslo formula all over again: Israel trades concessions on the ground for unenforceable Arab promises of peace.

It is worth remembering that Oslo, too, was showered with acclaim. The world cheered when Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn. It welcomed the PLO's unequivocal promise to forgo its guns and bombs. "The PLO commits itself . . . to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides," Arafat had vowed in writing, "and declares that all outstanding issues . . . will be resolved through negotiations. . . The PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence."

For the sake of peace, Israel paid the steep price Oslo demanded. It recognized the PLO, allowed Arafat to take over Gaza and the West Bank, agreed to the creation of a Palestinian militia, and even supplied that militia with weapons. It was appeasement on a scale far beyond Chamberlain's, but Israelis convinced themselves that it was worth it if it would mean an end to Palestinian violence and bloodlust.

But the violence and bloodlust didn't end. Far from ushering in a new era of peace, Oslo launched the worst decade of terrorism in Israel's history. Successive Israeli governments desperately tried to stanch the slaughter with new and deeper concessions. But that only convinced the Palestinians that the Jews were in retreat, and that hitting them harder would yield even greater rewards.

The cycle reached its pinnacle in September 2000, after former Prime Minister Ehud Barak made his unprecedented offer at Camp David: a full-fledged Palestinian state, shared control of Jerusalem, the evacuation of nearly every Jewish settlement -- even Arab sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat's reply was the horrific wave of suicide bombings that have sent nearly 1,000 Israelis to early graves.

So what does Beilin's new "peace plan" propose? A full-fledged Palestinian state, shared control of Jerusalem, the evacuation of nearly every Jewish settlement -- even Arab sovereignty over the Temple Mount. It is so breathtakingly delusional that Barak himself has denounced it. "It is rewarding terror," he said this week. "It will not save lives. It will lead to more deaths."

All the cheering in Geneva notwithstanding, the Beilin-Rabbo plan is a blueprint not for peace but for a cataclysmic war. It would force Israel back to what the late Abba Eban called the "Auschwitz" borders of 1949. It would compel the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Jews. It would create a 23d Arab state by jeopardizing the existence of the world's only Jewish state. It would put Arafat and the Palestinian dictatorship in position to accomplish at last the goal they have never abandoned: the liquidation of Israel.

In Geneva on Monday, Jimmy Carter lavished praise on the agreement and suggested that if he had been re-elected in 1980, he could have pushed something like it. "Had I been elected to a second term, with the prestige and authority and influence and reputation I had in the region," he said, "we could have moved to a final solution."

Final solution. If that is Carter's term for what Beilin and Rabbo have put forth, he speaks more truly than he knows.

Jeff Jacoby's e-mail address is jacoby@globe.com.

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