MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Israeli PM Olmert is in Washington to advance his agenda. It is not the first time a newly elected leader is going to Washington to win the approval of the Emperor. Haven't we seen this movie before? The most recent example was Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Washington, and got nothing twice.
Of the second Bush-Abbas meeting I wrote:
In both cases, it is not true that the trip had no value. It had negative value. It demonstrated that the Bush administration is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis except as a side show to be managed, and doesn't recognize the urgency of the problems at hand. The failure of the Bush administration to support Abbas in any real public way contributed materially to the rise of the Hamas.
Now we are in for a sequel, with Olmert visiting Washington. Olmert will not get support for his convergence plan, nor will he get any US commitment to take effective action against the Iranian threat. At most, he will get some lip service on these issues and probably a statement about the boycott of the Hamas. Shmuel Rosner explains in Haaretz:
The big problem is, that the US administration seems to think, and Olmert most likely agrees that there is absolutely no point to involving anyone in any peace process because there can be no peace process as long as the Hamas is in power, and that Mahmoud Abbas cannot control the situation:
Even more dismaying is the fact that everyone is apparently clueless as to how to prevent the Palestinian territories from deteriorating into chaos. According to the article, the US will ask Olmert (!?!) for his ideas about how to prevent chaos in the Palestinian terrtiories. So the US is clueless about how to prevent chaos there, but nonetheless wants Israel to negotiate. With whom and about what?
Olmert, for his part, has also gone on the record, perhaps unwisely, with his views about different matters before the White House meeting, in a CNN interview. About Abbas he said:
In the interview, Olmert also put himself out on a limb on the Iranian nuclear weapons program. He stated:
In the face of the different looming disasters, Ehud Olmert seems like a vehicle travelling on a fixed road, knowing quite well that the road leads off a cliff. He has a program, but the program doesn't correspond with reality. The Americans on the other hand, have no plan, and are more worried about other matters and don't want to be bothered.
Olmert's convergence plan can't be "sold" to the EU or the US or even to most Israelis in large part because the Gaza disengagement plan is a failure. It is a failure for Israel because it helped trigger the rise of the Hamas as well as the constant and increasing bombardment by rockets. It is a failure for the Palestinian people because they are in effect blockaded in a big Gaza prison. The closing of the Karni crossing to allow export of goods ruined what was left of the Palestinian economy. The disastrous failure of the green houses, donated by Jewish philanthropists to the Palestinians, is an illustrative and dramatic symptom of the condition of an entire people that cannot but promote despair. The green houses that were not trashed by Palestinians are being put out of business by the closure of Karni. Israel reopened the transit point, but it is too late.
Everyone can understand that restoring order in Gaza requires active cooperation of an international security force. The IDF could restore order, but if the IDF enters Gaza and restores order, it will certainly be the end not only of the peace process, which is already dead, but of any hope for peace in our generation. Instead of asking Olmert how to stop the chaos, the US should be busy organizing a force that can be used to stop the chaos. Before asking for support for another disengagement plan, Olmert and the Israeli government have to show Israelis, Europeans, the EU and the Palestinians that the Gaza disengagement is not an irremediable catastrophe.
As for Iran, if Olmert believes it is a problem for the international community, then the best thing he can do is shut up about it. If President Ahmadinejad had not succeeded so well in injecting the Israel issue into the equation, the Arab states would probably be more forthcoming in cooperating in efforts to stop Iranian nuclear development. The more Israel talks about the problem, the less feasible it is to get Arab public opinion to support action against Iran.
Finally, instead of going off to the USA to be rebuffed, Mr. Olmert should have stayed in Israel until he had a plan of action that could be the basis for Israeli-US cooperation and for furthering the peace process.
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Replies: 8 comments
Are we again in 1938? Just put Israel instead of Tchechoslovakia.
Are the Anglo-Saxon countries doing now with the Iranians what they did then with Hitler. He could have been stopped in 1935 when he occupied the Rheinland. The French were already putting their artillery on the bridge in Kehl (near Strassbourg) when the English stopped them "please no war".
This today reminds me very much of those times. Does the world ever learn something?
Posted by J - M @ 05/23/2006 08:21 AM CST
Ami, it seems to me that one important question is: would negotiating with Abbas, despite his weakness, improve the situation (as suggested by Beilin) or worsen it? Abbasand Beilin claim that Israel can negotiate with Abbas, and then the Hamas will be forced by public opinion to accept a deal. It is alsopossible that going back to a state of continuous negotiations will promote stability and enable Abbas to take stronger actions to stop terrorism. On the other hand it is possible that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are ready to make the necessary concessions, and that the failure of such an attempt + any continued Palestinian terrorism and Israeli human rights violations, will make things worse, and unilateral withdrawl is better.
Furthermore, isn't it in Israel's interest to try to negotiate with Hamas on a more official ceasefire? The hamas doesn't seem to want to fight at the moment. Shouldn't Israel encourage this direction?
In any case I don't think it is a good idea to bering in an international military force. If the Palestinians are committed to continued terrorism such a force will be reluctant, not motivated and probably incapable of dealing with them with force. They will end up blaming Israel for their casualties and allowing terrorism to continue and preventing other solutions. An International force will be useful only if it wil be accepted by the Palestinians, who will themselves decide to stop fighting.
As for Iran, Israel cannot do much at this stage. Even if Iran is comparable to Nazi Germany, we do not yet seem to be in the stage in which war has become justified. the Iranian president may be crazy, but he has not done anything yet. Starting a war now would be like starting a war with Germany in 1934. In retrospect it may have been a good idea but it would not have been justified at least until 35. Since neither Israel nor the US has the ability or legitimacy for a military option, diplomacy seems to be the only choice, at least for now.
Posted by Micha @ 05/23/2006 10:16 PM CST
"...neither Israel nor the US has the ability or legitimacy for a military option..."
Care to rethink that comment soldier?
Posted by McBride, Staff Sgt USMC @ 05/24/2006 07:21 AM CST
"Care to rethink that comment soldier?"
After Iraq it is doubtful Bush could get support even in the US for a premptive strike.
The Israeli government could have the legtimacy for an attack in Israel but not outside. Israel might (literaly) fly in the face of world public opinion. it is already considered crazy; but it might be reluctant to do this at this juncture, especially with the slim chances for military success. Furthermore, the Iranian retaliation against Israel (even in response to an American attack), with missles or terrorism will be considered legitimate by too many, and might retroactively erode the support for the attack in Israel. Is it worth for Israel to risk an Iranian retaliation with the chances for military success so small.
On the miltary level, at the moment it seems that an aerial attack against Iran (by Israel or the US) is unlikely to succeed since Iran's nuclear instillations are hidden and spread out.
Israel cannot mount a full ground attack against Iran in regard to manpower or access, and US forces are too extended in Iraq.
This leaves only too military alternatives: commando attack or sabotage. A commando attack incurs the risk of retaliation even assuming it were to succeed. And sabotage is not something we can discuss since we don't know the American or Israeli intelligence capabilities in that regard.
So, the success of a military option doubtful, legitimacy nonexistant.
Posted by Micha @ 05/24/2006 07:37 PM CST
Didn't the Palestinians ask for an international force a few years ago? Didn't the Americans veto the proposal? Also if Iraq is any indication the West might be reluctant to make peace. Also Hamas will certainly be suspicous of the West?
Posted by Butros @ 05/24/2006 10:31 PM CST
The Palestinians wanted an international force for two reasons:
Israel opposed this for the same reasons.
However, if the Palestinians will continue the "armed struggle", which is quite likely, it is doubtful an international force will handle it successfully. They will end up being in the way, hated both by Israelis and Palestinians, and hating them in return.
Posted by Micha @ 05/25/2006 03:01 PM CST
May 24th, 2006
President George W. Bush
Dear President Bush, and Senator Durbin, and Senator Obama,
The United States must vigorously push for justice for Palestinians and not cut off aid to Palestine.
Israeli actions are destructive to the interests of the United States. Israel has carved the Occupied Territories into miserable little ghettos and tries to drive the Palestinian Muslims and Christians out of their land. The Israelis create despair and provoke radicalism and endless war.
â€śChristian Zionistsâ€ť, are fundamentalists who give Israel a blank check to oppress the Palestinians. They error to think the State of Israel is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. As Wheaton College Professor Gary Burge explains in his book â€śWhose Land, Whose Promiseâ€ť, the Bible says it is not those who rejected Christ, but those who followed Christ, Jews plus non-Jews who are â€śadopted children of Abrahamâ€ť, who are the New Israel that will inherit the promise of the Covenant,. Further, the Covenant is not to be fulfilled by land. This was the traditional position of all Christianity until modern times. Christian Zionist notions of the State of Israel as a fulfillment of prophecy are a deviation. Professor Burge writes further that ancient Israel did not discriminate against non-Jews; that the Bible says that Israel was a tenant on the land, and that holding the land was conditional on obedience to commands, expressly including just treatment of the non-Jews. Israel forfeits any claim today because of evil toward the Palestinians.
The United States is a signatory to UN Resolution 242 which demands that Israel get out of the Occupied Territories. Every people has the right to self defense against an occupying army. Israel deliberately provokes desperate Palestinian reaction to distract world attention from continual action to drive Palestinians out. We must remember the first Intifada was provoked by Israeli violence, and the second Intifada was provoked by Sharonâ€™s declaration on the Temple Mount that Israel was assuming sovereignty over the Arab holy places
Israel claims that Prime Minister Ehud Barak made a â€śgenerousâ€ť peace offer that Arafat refused. This story is revealed as a fraud that offers Palestinians only perpetual subjugation, maintaining the division of their land in little ghettos surrounded by Israeli guns. Israel exponents further tout Israel as a democracy, and a US asset for stability in the Middle East. Conscientious Israeli dissenters give abundant and unimpeachable testimony that Israel brings not democracy, but terror and tyranny, to Palestinians. Israel is not an asset for stability. Rather, it is the primary cause of conflict in the Middle East.
To permit religious notions of the Christian Zionists to determine US foreign policy is to be party to great evil against Palestinians. It is a prescription for endless war with Islam, and is destructive to America. The way to peace is for the United States to recognize a free Palestinian state without preconditions, and press Israel to get completely out of the Occupied Territories. The Israeli government is too heavily influenced by extremists to get out without heavy American pressure. America should offer refuge in the United States to Israeli settlers who will get out of the Occupied Territories. It was a tragic and enormous injustice to help Holocaust victims to seek refuge at the expense of the people who have owned the land since the Roman Emperor Hadrian expelled the Jews.
Posted by Lamont Phemister @ 05/27/2006 07:10 PM CST
Christian Zionists are no more fundamentalists than Muslims; to call all Christian Zionists fundamentalists is as bad as calling all Muslims terrorist fanatics. There are a lot of Christian Zionists who support Israel because they support Jewish restoration in their ancient homeland, not because they hate Palestinians or Muslims. The Bible can be read in many ways, as is true for the Qu'ran, and both can be used to justify very different positions.
Resolution 242 calls for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war (not 'the' territories) and the right of all states in the region 'to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries'. Arab states and the Palestinians didn't abide by this resolution either, but that doesn't seem to bother you.
"Every people has the right to self defense". Very true. Israel defended itself against the Palestinians and other Arabs who waged war against it in 1948, and did so again as Egypt and Syria threatened to annihilate the state in 1967, after Egypt had sent away the UN peacekeeping force in the Sinai and closed the Straits of Tiran for Israeli shipping, against international law.
Long before the Israeli occupation, and before the state was founded it were the Palestinians who started violence to drive the Zionists out of Palestine. Haj Amin Al Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem, said in 1948: "I declare a holy war, my Moslem brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!" Husseini was a known Nazi collaborator who fled the Neurenberg trials. He had instigated several Arab riots and pogroms against the Jews in Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s.
Barak offered the Palestinians a contiguous state, first in about 90% of the West Bank, later in some 95%, with a division of Jerusalem. You may think this offer unfair, it were no Bantustans. (See: http://www.mideastweb.org/lastmaps.htm)
You wrote: "It was a tragic and enormous injustice to help Holocaust victims to seek refuge at the expense of the people who have owned the land since the Roman Emperor Hadrian expelled the Jews."
Maybe you should first read a history book before you write a letter to the American president (although I doubt how many books he has read in his life). And no, I don't mean fairy tales like Ilan Pappe writes.
Please share with us the answer you got from Mr. Bush.
Posted by Ratna Pelle @ 05/28/2006 04:35 PM CST
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