Still in that holding pattern …waiting for a grandchild who gives hints but so far has not been inclined to make that big appearance…writing as I can return to my computer…
Actually, from my son’s house yesterday , when I accessed news via his computer, I wondered if I was perhaps more at ease when I didn’t know what was going on. It remains so incomprehensible to me — this push to insanity. But there’s hope.
Word now has it that the Annapolis conference will only last one day, that day presumably being the 27th of November. Invitations still aren’t out. Latest news is that Egyptian officials are now saying, once again, that things don’t look good for progress and they’re not sure they’re coming.
The Post reports today that Nabil Abu Rudaineh , a senior adviser to Abbas, says that not "a single word" of the joint declaration had been written. "There are still too many differences."
This is good news because there has been concern regarding what Olmert might sign upfront, thereby committing us to things we’re best not committed to.
Seems the US is prepared to go ahead even if there is no joint declaration. They are now saying what’s going on is a process, and that the statement isn’t that important. (More on Rice below.)
Seems to me there is only going to be widening of the gaps between the two sides in the time remaining. Protests are gearing up in several quarters here in Jerusalem, and Abbas is being squeezed from his side.
The other good news involves a first reading that passed in the Knesset today of a bill that requires a vote of 80 members of the Knesset to change Jerusalem’s boundaries. This would be added as an amendment to the Basic Law of Israel, which already identifies Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. There has been some question as to how "Jerusalem" is defined, as the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem were not the same when the Basic Law declared it to be our capital as they are now.
I’ve had several discussions on this issue with an attorney, and it would be my understanding that such an addition to our basic law, finalized, in place and publicized, would give proper legal notice internationally so that Olmert’s signature alone on an agreement that gave away part of Jerusalem would not be binding internationally.
And I do not believe there is even a remote chance that 80 of our MKs (out of a total of 120) would sign off on giving away part of Jerusalem. This, alone, might kill negotiations.
Olmert has had a meeting with leaders of the Yesha Council — the organization that represents the residents of Judea and Samaria. Suffice it to say that it did not go well. At issue at present is a freeze on settlement building which is seen as a gesture to the US.
One of the things I’m paying close attention to is Olmert’s pledge to demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Most recently what is being said is that he will raise this with them post-Annapolis in negotiations. My response to this was that the time to raise it was in the pre-Annapolis declaration — for if they cannot agree to this there would be no point in going to Annapolis at all, and it would certainly be unwise to sign anything absent this Arab acknowledgement. Well…seems as if there will be no declaration, although Olmert is bent on going to Annapolis.
Of course they’re never going to agree to recognizing a Jewish state. Not only is the concept abhorrent to them — as they consider this Muslim land — it would preclude the refugee’s "return."
Said negotiator Saeb Erekat, "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined." And what about Saudi Arabia? This nation, which is governed by Sharia — Muslim law, doesn’t even let Jews into the country and forbids any public worship, or construction of churches, by Christians.
If — it should only be! — Olmert would refuse to pursue negotiations if the Palestinians refuse to recognize us as a Jewish state, it would save a great deal of grief.
Olmert gave a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. What he told them is that there would be negotiations about the third stage of the Road Map — outlining what would define a final state (including questions of Jerusalem and borders) — but that it wouldn’t be actualized until the first stage — which requires the PA to dismantle terrorism — was implemented.
This may sound safe — we wouldn’t withdraw from anything until they dismantled the terrorist infrastructure. But it most definitely isn’t safe. Experts have been warning about this for some time. Once Olmert were to sign on to specific agreements in theory there would be enormous pressure by the international community for us to proceed no matter what. There is absolutely NO precedent for holding the Palestinians accountable. We’d be told Abbas is trying his best, or that he arrested half a dozen terrorists. Or that he will be better able to carry this out once we strengthen him by giving him a state.
Actually, last week Ahmed Qurei, head of the PA negotiating team, said they had already fulfilled their obligations under the first stage of the Road Map and could proceed. When you finish laughing, you can continue reading. But understand that their brazen gall in making such claims is considerable and part of what has to be dealt with.
As most of you likely know , there was a Fatah-organized rally in Gaza City on Monday, which attracted 250,000, in commemoration of the third anniversary of Arafat’s death. Hamas forces fired on the crowd, killing six and wounding many more. In the words of Khaled Abu Toameh, this clash represents "the huge challenges facing…Abbas" before Annapolis.
Last Friday Al-Quds, a London paper , reported that Abbas is leaking the information that Israel plans a major operation in Gaza to retake the Philadelphi Corridor after Annapolis. Presumably Israel shared this information with Abbas (don’t know that this is actually so) and that he is trying to block it because he’s unhappy about it. It’s important to ask WHY Abbas, our "moderate partner for peace," would be unhappy about an Israeli action to block terrorism in territory that Hamas controls. The fact that he is speaks volumes.
Let me turn, now, to the greatest source of political insanity: Condoleezza Rice, who gave an address in Nashville at the General Assembly of United Jewish Communities — the largest annual gathering of Jewish leadership. Said she:
"Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is in the strategic interest of the United States."
Real peace might be. The so-called "peace" she hopes to see negotiated does not serve the US, as a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria will become a headquarters for terrorism, affecting the stability of Jordan and what goes on in Iraq.
"We will defend against any action , as we always have, that would compromise Israel’s security. "
Forgive me, but she lies through her teeth . She consistently pushes Israel to take actions that compromise our security because those actions in her mind serve other purposes. How could she ask us to release prisoners when there is a statistically large possibility of their return to terrorism? Or to remove checkpoints when they are proven to catch terrorists on their way to their crimes of horr
"Just think back to 2001," she advised her listeners. "Despite the extraordinary efforts of the Clinton Administration, peace negotiations had collapsed. The violence between Palestinians and Israelis was almost daily… "
Her implication is that the violence came about because Clinton failed to envision the proper parameters for a Palestinian state and thus couldn’t achieve peace. But in point of fact, the violence increased BECAUSE of the "peace negotiations." It was thought by Arafat that he could accomplish more that way — Clinton, who invited Arafat to the White House more times than any other international leader, never held the Palestinians responsible for their commitments or obligations. (Here we go again.) He kept giving to them, and playing up to them, even (or especially) when they didn’t honor commitments.
How is this different from today — when the US gave large sums to the PA to strengthen it against Hamas in Gaza, and Fatah security people — better armed, more numerous and better trained, ran from Gaza because of lack of WILL, only to find that the US was prepared to give them huge additional sums of money for (more) arms and training? What message has been delivered?
And so, she goes on to explain: "This led the President [Bush] to try a different approach… What… needed to be addressed was the character of the Palestinian state. Would it fight terrorism? Would it govern justly? Would it create opportunity for its people? In our view, the security of the democratic Jewish state required the creation of a responsible Palestinian state."
Now, neither you nor I can see into Rice’s head . But does it seem the remotest bit likely that she actually believes that Abbas has established a new sort of responsible, democratic state that is fighting terrorism and governs justly and creates opportunity for its people? She’s not a halfwit, which one would have to be to believe this. There is no law and order in the PA areas. Abbas and his cronies are breathtakingly corrupt, and there is no opportunity for the people. (More and more I’m hearing about Palestinians within Israeli jurisdictions who are afraid of being included within a Palestinian state — they far prefer Israeli rule.)
And, if she doesn’t believe this , exactly what is going on, and how does she have the nerve to say this?
Perhaps more to the point, how is it that American Jewish leaders sat still for this garbage and applauded her, rather than rising on their feet and challenging her? That is what is most worrisome.
Lest you have the wrong impression on this matter: In a poll just done by Ma’agar Mohot, it was found that 65% of the population of Israel opposes a substantial withdrawal from Judea and Samaria because of what happened after the Gaza pullout, and 55% think that the Knesset should remove Olmert. Were we to leave Judea and Samaria, 65% believe there is a high or very high chance that Hamas would take control of the area, and 77% said Abbas lacked the power to prevent attacks.