Wish I could say I knew, in this lunatic world. There are, for me, only two givens: There is not going to be a “two state solution” and we are here to stay.
US envoy George Mitchell was here again, to no particular avail from his perspective. In spite of a three-hour meeting and his best efforts, he was unable to convince PA leaders to come on board for direct talks.
To put it boldly, my friends, Abbas is running scared. I don’t mean simply worried about his political viability (though there is that). I suggest that he is frightened for his life. It is this essential fear that gives him the backbone to continue to say no to the Obama administration.
Yesterday, according to Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon, writing in the JPost, “representatives of dozens of Palestinian factions and organizations…warned Abbas against succumbing to pressure to open direct talks unconditionally.” Trust me, they can be quite “persuasive.” And these representatives included members of Abba’s own Fatah party, so he doesn’t even have a solid home base supporting him. Abbas is not crazy.
What these groups want is exactly what Abbas has been demanding: They want the negotiations decided before there are negotiations. They want us to agree to the borders of the projected Palestinian state before Abbas will sit down with us. Well…Netanyahu is not crazy either.
The question is how long this will go on, before Obama throws in the towel and admits he cannot promote “peace” here at this time. Or, at the very least, allow the effort he’s expending to that end now to just slowly dissipate, without admitting anything.
Then there is the question as to whether he would ever be honest enough to say that Palestinian Arab intransigence got in the way. This is undoubtedly a rhetorical question.
Mitchell, on talking about his intention to return again soon, spoke, according to Reuters, about “difficulties and obstacles” the sides are facing. “The sides”? There is always a moral-equivalency scenario waiting to be trotted out.
As to why there will not be a “two-state solution,” you’ve heard from me several times. But here I share Minister Bennie Begin on the same issue:
Says Begin: “The Palestinians are after a ‘two-stage solution’ and not a two-state solution.” First stage is pushing us back to pre-’67 lines, and the second is our destruction.
He reminds us that Article 19 in Chapter One of the Fatah charter states: “Armed struggle is a strategy, not a tactic. The armed revolution of the Arab Palestinian people is a crucial element in the battle for liberation and for the elimination of the Zionist presence. This struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated.”
Thus has the PLO refused to give consent to an article in a final agreement that would state “that this agreement puts an end to the conflict and concludes all claims by the parties.” And thus does the PLO deny the historic connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
Begin’s historical tracking of prior negotiations is instructive:
The newly constituted UN panel charged with investigating the flotilla incident — consisting of former prime minister of New Zealand, Geoffrey Palmer; outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe; Israeli representative Joseph Ciechanover; and Turkish representative Özdem Sanberk — will be holding it first meeting tonight at the UN in NY.
Unless there is a fifth participant from the UN itself, unmentioned, this may be a fairly balanced panel.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told the press that the panel was “not designed to determine individual criminal responsibility, but to examine and identify the facts, circumstances and the context of the incident, as well as to recommend ways of avoiding future incidents.”
Unfortunately, Ban has denied that an agreement was struck with Israel stipulating that military commanders would not be questioned. Netanyahu has countered by saying that “Israel would not participate in any panel which wants to question IDF soldiers.”
The good news for today is that Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee has acted (at least for the moment) to freeze $100 million in US military aid to Lebanon for 2010; the funds had been approved but were not yet dispersed. This action was prompted by the recent sniping attack on IDF officers by the Lebanese army, which Lowey calls an “outrageous incident.”
“This incident was tragic and was entirely avoidable,” she said. “US assistance is intended to enhance our safety and that of our allies.”
The subcommittee is said to now be watching the Lebanese response.
Interestingly, Howard Berman (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had put a hold on this disbursement before Lowey did — before the sniping incident even occurred, actually.
Berman has concerns about Hezbollah influence on the Lebanese armed forces (LAF). “Until we can…assure that the LAF is a responsible actor, I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon.” His office is now investigating such matters as how diligently the LAF keeps track of weapons received from the US and how well it works with UNIFIL.
Both of these Congresspersons are to be saluted for proper action here.
But it is not all a done deal, as ultimately the investigations may be deemed to have secured satisfactory information and the assistance may be reinstated.
It’s hard to imagine that an investigation that is diligent and on the up-and-up with regard to Hezbollah involvement with the Lebanese military could lead to reinstatement of assistance. Just two days ago, member of the Lebanese parliament Mohammed Raad, declared: “All calculations from now on will be built upon the notion that the Lebanese Army is ready to engage in confrontation, backed by the embrace of the Lebanese people and the support of the Resistance [Hezbollah].” That sounds pretty clear to me.
But matters are never that simple, and I can imagine a situation in which the Obama administration would claim that lending this assistance to the Lebanese was in the best interests of the US.
Nawwaf Moussawi, a senior Hezbollah leader and also a member of the Lebanese parliament today advised the Lebanese government to tell the US to keep its money and to seek military assistance from places such as Iran instead. Cynic that I am, I can see the Obama administration jumping at the bait and pushing for the reinstatement of the assistance under the badly mistaken impression that this would help ensure US influence in Lebanon. (That is his MO, is it not?)
In closing, I share this, taken from MEMRI, without comment:
“A senior commander in the Iraqi military told the Qatari daily Al-‘Arab that, in the last two months, the US has deployed over 7,000 troops along the Iraq-Iran border, as well as radars and batteries of anti-ballistic missiles. According to the source, this has convinced the Iraqi leaders that the US intends to launch an airstrike against Iran from Iraqi territory, and that the US will not withdraw before this strike takes place.”