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      Op-Ed: Israel's Preconditions

      Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 11:40 AM
      Olmert seems to have forgotten to prepare his list


      The news is full of the demands of the Palestinians. What incentives do they require merely to attend an event that will, in all likelihood, benefit them so much more than us?

      First, says Syria, our commitment to discuss and perhaps even agree to yield all or part of the Golan.

      First, says Hamas, an agreement to withdraw not to the pre-1967 borders - after all, why
      The Palestinian and Arab preconditions are ever rising.
      should they settle for that? No, they want the 1947 Partition Plan and no one in the Israeli or US governments have the nerve to laugh and tell them they missed that boat 60 years ago.

      First, says supposedly moderate Abu Mazen, yield the Western Wall. It's ours anyway, Abu Mazen claims in his latest attempt to revise history. Perhaps he needs a place to park his donkey and thinks demanding the Western Wall will bring back past claims that the Western Wall of the Temple Mount was "only" the place where Mohammad parked his donkey on alternate Mondays in the month of May.

      Not to be outdone, the Palestinian and Arab preconditions are ever rising. Latest reports say they want, in writing, of course, complete surrender of pretty much everything; so, one wonders, why bother holding the conference at all, why not just pack up and leave to fulfill the demands they are making?

      Nevertheless, Israeli leaders could learn something (when could they not?) from the Arab leaders. What are our preconditions? Well, lost in his ever-present fight to clear his name from the latest corruption scandal, Ehud Olmert seems to have forgotten to prepare his list, so I decided to help him:

      1. Before we attend, we demand immediate and full disclosure about our missing soldiers. This includes proof of their health situations verified by independent sources. Ideally, we'd like the session videotaped, because we don't really trust the United Nations or even the Red Cross to honestly report. But that's not really necessary, because Hamas and Hizbullah won't agree to this anyway.

        If, as they are now claiming, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are not alive, then we want to know when they died. If they were murdered after being taken captive, then we demand their murderers be brought to Israel for trial. If they died during the kidnap attempt, then we demand an immediate and full apology for the agonies inflicted upon their families for the last 15 months.
      1. We demand the immediate release of Ron Arad. This is non-negotiable. We won't even hail the taxi to get to Ben-Gurion Airport until Ron is given to us. And if the unthinkable has happened and he is no longer alive, then we demand his remains be given over for burial. We suggest they hurry, because once the remains are given to us, we will declare an immediate period of mourning out of respect for Israel's longest held prisoner and our leaders wouldn't dare fly during this time.
      1. We demand the immediate return of Eli Cohen's remains by the Syrian government and this, too, is not negotiable. We'd like time to check that they are indeed his remains, of course, and then a reasonable mourning period must be arranged.
      1. We demand the immediate and complete cessation of rocket attacks from Gaza and compensation for all the damaged buildings in Sderot. We also demand, in advance, that the Palestinian government reimburse the Israeli government and public for all medical bills resulting from these rocket attacks and generous long-term payments to victims still suffering from wounds received.
      1. We demand immediate and full restoration of rights and property of the Jews forced from Arab lands in the early years after Israel was created. Since we know that the number of Jews who fled Arab countries is around the same as the number of Arabs who fled the newly created State of Israel, we are willing to do a cancellation of debt on both sides. We want this in writing - no more rights to return for either side. That means all those Yemenite and Iraqi and Syrian Jews living in Israel will simply have to give up their right to leave the democratic state of Israel, but we are sure we can convince them and so our government is authorized to sign this in advance.
      1. We went to know, in advance, and in writing, of course, exactly what and whom the Palestinians want in exchange for Gilad Shalit and they can forget the idea that we will release murderers. In our country, murders sit in prison, not in the government.
      1. We want a guarantee, in writing, that the so-called Palestinian government will pay all outstanding court and utilities bills. We suggest they give a check to the Americans and once the check has cleared the bank, we will begin arranging plane tickets for our leaders or fueling up the jets or whatever we do when our leaders fly abroad.
      1. We demand an immediate halt to all digging going on illegally on the Temple Mount and the immediate cessation of all damage being done to archaeological evidence of the First and Second Temples. We demand that no further digging be done without cameras (video, of course - color, digital), and that at least two Israeli or internationally-recognized archaeological experts onsite whenever any digging is done. Should any digging be done on the surface, we demand that some sunshade and extra water be provided to these experts and that they be allowed to take at least a one-hour break (we suggest they be given a salary so that they can eat at Bonker's Bagels, but we are willing to cover that expense).
      1. And finally, we demand full recognition that the Jewish people have a long claim to this land that will be given respect. Arab leaders will stop trying to "prove" that Israel didn't exist here 2,000 years ago and will stop claiming that we have no right to be here. This must be done in writing and must be signed by Joseph Massad and Nadia Abu El-Haj of Columbia University, as well as by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
      Without these minimal concessions, we simply will not be able to attend the conference in November. And one more thing, should the conference be canceled or should it come about and not be successful, and should the Palestinians launch yet another intifada, this one will be put down ruthlessly and without hesitation. We will not go back to the days of
      We will not go back to the days of suicide bombings in our buses and cafes.
      suicide bombings in our buses and cafes. We will not give in to threats of violence. Attack, and you will be attacked. Fight and terrorize, and we will act like every other normal nation in the world and fight right back.

      If you want peace, meet us in Maryland. If you want to start making preconditions, then we've listed ours above. It's very likely we find your preconditions even more unacceptable and impossible to meet than you find ours.

      But, should you actually agree, give Olmert a call at +972-2-670-5555. If, by chance, he's no longer the prime minister, well, there'll be someone else who we elected. That's the way it is in a democratic country; the man may change, but the facts on the ground will not.

      Until then, November in Israel is just a lovely time of year, so maybe we'll just sit this next dance out.