Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Tarazi Examines Israel's Vision for a Noncontiguous Palestinian State

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Tarazi Examines Israel's Vision for a Noncontiguous Palestinian State

Article excerpt

Campus Activism

"Israelis have never issued a map of their proposal for a Palestinian state," Palestinian legal adviser Michael Tarazi said at a Sept. 26 forum at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

The school's "Understanding the Middle East Club" invited Tarazi to give the Palestinian perspective of the failed Middle East peace negotiations held in Camp David and Taba, Egypt three years ago.

Tarazi opened his lecture by presenting a map of the Palestinian state Israel proposed at Camp David, which divided the West Bank into three separate areas. Pointing to each area of land, Tarazi asked, "Would it have been able to survive as a viable state?"

Israel's vision for a noncontiguous Palestinian state, he said, "would have made the [Palestinian] economy dependent on Israeli goodwill and permission to cross boundaries."

Though some Israeli officials claim that Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered up to 95 percent of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians, this figure does not include East Jerusalem, which Israelis do not consider occupied territory. "Don't be fooled by percentages," Tarazi told his audience of approximately 50 students. East Jerusalem was not included in the proposal, among other reasons, he said, because Israel wanted to hold on to Ariel, a massive Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank. Ariel's residents are lured to the settlement through financial incentives like tax benefits and low mortgages. The settlement is particularly important to Israel because it provides easy access to pure water, Tarazi added.

In addition to having no adjoining borders, the Palestinian state proposed at Camp David would have given Palestinians very little independence, Tarazi contended. "Israel wanted to control airspace, including movement of airplanes, mobile telephone service, and satellites," he explained. Nor, he added, would Palestinians have been given control of their borders.

Tarazi likened the proposed state to a prison: "95 percent of a prison belongs to prisoners," he noted, "but the 5 percent that the prison guards hold on to allows them to control the prison population inside."

Ultimately, he maintained, "Palestinians aren't after larger jail cells, but getting out of jail entirely. …

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