Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Border Deal Sealed

Israel, and the Peaceful Nation of Palestine, have reached a border deal at last:

JERUSALEM - Prodded by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israel and the Palestinians agreed Tuesday on details for opening the borders of the Gaza Strip and allowing freer movement for Palestinians elsewhere, a significant step toward an eventual peace deal between historic enemies.

The agreement, which gives the Palestinians control over a border for the first time, took all-night negotiations and a strong diplomatic shove from Rice. The basic elements of the deal had been in the works for weeks.

"I have to say as a football fan, sometimes the last yard is the hardest, and I think we experienced that today," Rice told a news conference where she announced the agreement.

She praised the deal at a news conference as a "big step forward" in Israeli-Palestinian relations, bruised by nearly five years of bloody fighting.

"This agreement is intended to give Palestinian people the freedom to move, to trade, to live ordinary lives," Rice said.

While important in and of itself, the broader significance of the deal to free up Palestinian movement while satisfying Israeli concerns about terrorism is that it makes a statement of progress that goes beyond the technical details.

"Underneath what may seem like very small details there are hard issues," Rice told reporter.
She said she had about two hours of sleep.

Donor countries have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars, but they money was held up by the lack of a border deal.

Under the agreement, the Gaza-Egypt border would tentatively open Nov. 25. It will be operated by Palestinian and Egypt border officials, under the supervision of European monitors. Israel had demanded veto powers, but in the ended conceded on the issue, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. Israel will receive live transmissions via closed circuit TV from the crossing there, and can raise objections concerning travelers, but the Palestinians have the final say.

The government of the Peaceful State of Palestine is dominated by two political parties (Fatah and Hamas), both of whose charters call for the destruction of the state of Israel. So, I would imagine that if Almadinejad wheeled an atomic bomb that looked like the one dropped on Hiroshima up to the border of Israel, the Palestinians would say, "Ok, let him through."

Yeah, this agreement is going to work.