Hassan Al-battal
June 23, 2008 - 2:42pm

Some of you may follow Super Star, or Law and Order, both of which are very exciting television programs. As television, the Berlin Conference episode, supporting the security and law programs of the Palestinians, was less exciting than the Paris Economic Conference show, which followed the Annapolis Political Conference program.  

As we all know, the Annapolis Conference fell short of expectations, while the Paris Conference exceeded expectations, and the Bethlehem Conference, which achieved tangible results, was an actual success.  

Maybe we should view the Berlin Conference, to be held on June 24th, more seriously than we have viewed the other international conferences, because it will be a goal-oriented conference that will link current security to political security.  And, in the case of a successful Berlin Conference, we will have a better chance at success for the ongoing political negotiations to create a Palestinian state.  

The truce in Gaza, whether it lasts or fails, will test the two existing security-political models in the Palestinian Territories. In the West Bank, there is the Jenin model, and it appears to be successful. And in Gaza, there is the conflict model which just resulted in a six month temporary truce.  

The Paris Economic Conference supplied the Palestinian security institutions with $350 million, out of a total of $7.4 billion in aid and assistance to be spread out for three years, which is the timeframe of the Palestinian economic growth and recovery plan.  

The security-legal international conference in Berlin is a German initiative, and the Palestinian Authority supplied the attendees with a proposed budget that included 14 projects costing $187 million, such as police force training and equipment and measure to strengthen the judicial system, because law and security work in harmony.  

Colin Smith, the head of the European Union police mission in the West Bank, has estimated that the Palestinian police force needs two to three years to become effective. That is the timeline for the projects that were approved at the Paris Conference.  

Consequentially, when there is talk about the end of the six-month timeframe without reaching a dramatic breakthrough in the negotiations, this takes into account the timeline of the security and economic projects more than the negotiations that were supposed to succeed by the end of the year, coinciding with the end of President Bush's term in office.   

On the one hand, it is possible for Olmert's difficulties to hinder the progress of the negotiations. On the other hand, it is also possible that such problems could actually result in reaching a general framework for agreement.  

The effect of the Gaza truce on the political process, either positive or negative, is not clear, especially after the Syrian foreign minister, Mr. Waleed Al-Mu'alim, tied internal Lebanese and Palestinian security to the progress of the Syrian-Israeli negotiations that are being mediated by Turkey.  

This equation is honest and unsurprising, but also offensive and rude, and embarrassing to Lebanese and Palestinian fighters. These fighters are agents whose objectives have become secondary to the Syrian objective of improving their bargaining power in order to return the Golan Heights.  

We are concerned with developing the truce into an agreement, and the partisan dialogue into national unity. We keep aiming at developing the security/economic/cultural Jenin model, so that people can compare it to the Gaza model.  

In agreeing to the Gaza truce, Hamas has recognized, in a political sense, a temporary separation of security between Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority cannot accept a permanent division between Gaza and the West Bank on political, economic development, or bureaucratic lines.  

The question is: will Israel allow the spread of the successful Jenin model to the remaining cities in the West Bank? Maybe the answer is related to the economic carrot that the European Union has offered to Israel, despite the legitimate Palestinian objections to it. What will Israel have to do in return?  

Israel will have to not deter the security/legal program that will be approved at the Berlin Conference in order to prepare the law and security program of the Palestinian Authority to become the legal and judicial institutions of a Palestinian state.  

Israel must learn from the drastic results of its mistake of unilaterally disengaging from Gaza without coordinating with the Palestinian Authority, which resulted eventually in this half-year Gaza truce. Carefully accelerating the political negotiations will not only be a test of Annapolis, Paris, and Bethlehem, but also will serve as a proving ground for the relative merits of the Jenin model versus the Gaza model.  

[Translation by Mike Husseini of ATFP] 


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