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Monday, April 16, 2007

Bargaining with semantics

Syria says that they want to revive the "peace process" with Israel....
"Syria wishes to revive the peace process with Israel with the help of US and Russian mediators," the Syrian Information Minister was quoted as saying by Israel Radio, Monday.

The minister immediately added a threat that "If Israel rejects the Arab peace initiatives, the only way to get the Golan Heights back would be the way of resistance."
In a crystal clear manner, Syria has defined for us its definition of "peace," and it has nothing to do with ending hostilities.

The "peace process" is just one way to get the Golan, and Syria otherwise exhibits not the slightest interest in what the word "peace" normally means. Peace is not a goal or even desirable to Syria - it is just a way to get what they really want, which is the high ground from which they can resume shooting at Israel and access Israel's main water source.

How peaceful was the Israeli/Syrian border before 1967, and how peaceful was it afterwards? If "peace" is the goal, then all should agree that Israel should hold onto the Golan.

Arabs are highly adept at the art of bargaining, as anyone who ever enters a souk can tell you. They know that Israel desperately wants a real peace so they use the word with impunity as a dangling carrot in order to get what they want - any land they can that Jews control in the area. Since most Westerners think of the word "peace" the way Israel does, no one thinks that when the Arabs say the word that they could possibly mean anything else.

But here we see here explicitly that "peace" is not a goal for the Arabs - it is a bargaining chip, that is infinitely valuable because it is worthless to the seller and highly prized by the buyer.

Another type of bargaining is evident from this story, showing an unusual unity among terror groups:
A number of Palestinian factions, including Hamas, have called for more Israeli soldiers to be captured in order to ensure Palestinian prisoners are released in exchange. They say that this action is necessary following the failure of the diplomatic efforts to release the Palestinian prisoners.

In a statement, Hamas said that their movement urges the armed brigades of Al-Qassam (Hamas), Al-Aqsa (Fatah), An-Nasser (Popular Resistance Committees), Al-Quds (Islamic Jihad), Abu Ali Mustafa (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and others, to work together to capture more Israeli soldiers in order to exchange them with Palestinian prisoners .

The statement confirmed that Hamas "intends to release all the prisoners, regardless of their faction or affiliation, by all means available and at any cost, especially after the failure of the diplomatic efforts, the weak agreements and the false promises."

Hamas also called on the Israeli leaders to "comply with the factions' demands, accelerate the exchange deal and avoid deception."
In this case as well, it all comes down to bargaining and peace is the furthest thing from the Arab minds.

Israel would be wise to take a chapter from the Arab playbook and start grabbing things that they value - land, specifically - so that Israel's bargaining position can be enhanced. Imagine how much more leverage Israel would have if it, for example, took a few square miles of Gaza, name it Kfar Gilad, and announce plans to build settlements there in two weeks unless Shalit is released.

Real peace is not in the playbook, so it is time Israel started playing the game the way that the Arabs want to play it themselves.

UPDATE: Joe Settler agrees.