It would be a stretch of some proportions to say I am now happy with Olmert, but I am decidedly less unhappy. Yesterday he had a meeting with Bush, after which he met with the press. And then he said a number of things that should properly have been said at the conference itself, when the whole world was listening and Abbas was recounting all the concessions they must have from Israel.
First, the Temple Mount is not negotiable. Well, mazel tov! Of course it’s not negotiable, but nice to have our prime minister on board here. The unfortunate part is that I have no confidence that what he said yesterday will apply the day after tomorrow, but it may be that he feels he must stand on this in order to keep his coalition. And the fact is that without the Temple Mount the Palestinians definitely won’t settle.
Then he said that while Israel will try to meet the goal of completing negotiations by the end of 2008, Israel was not committed to that deadline.
Olmert also emphasized that the agreement would not be implemented until all requirements under the roadmap regarding dismantling of terror infrastructure — in Judea and Samaria and Gaza alike — are fulfilled. This is both reassuring and unsettling at the same time. Good to know that he won’t proceed until terrorism is taken out, which means never if the assessment is honest. But, there is the question of whether that assessment will be honest. And yet another question leaps out at me once again. He says the agreement won’t be "implemented." This implies that — instead of going step by step according to the road map — Israel will go ahead and negotiate that state (step 3), and then hold tight and delay implementation until terrorism is defeated (step 1). This would put us in a position of being heavily pressured to let the Palestinians prematurely have the state that had been negotiated.
Olmert also said, "We do not need to lose proportion here. This was not something meant to change history." What a difference from the inflated rhetoric he used prior to the conference. This attempt to diminish expectations tells us that he is very unsure that anything good will come of this.
Rice has appointed the special US envoy who will be monitoring compliance according to the stipulations of the road map: former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Gen. James Jones to monitor. A general schooled in diplomacy, he will be judging the crackdown on terrorists by the PA and the freezing of settlement activity by Israel, and reporting to Rice.
Remember Livni’s statements regarding how the Arabs were coming to Annapolis to support the process, which involved safeguarding Israel’s security? It was ridiculous on the face of it, but look how it played out: the Saudi foreign minister not only refused to shake hands with Olmert, he also insisted that the Saudis enter by a different door from the Israelis. What is more, of the representatives of 15 members of the Arab League with whom Livni hoped to have some contact, only Jordan, which has a full treaty with us, was willing.
The Arab states attending were Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Additionally the Muslim states of Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia were present.
Dutch European Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans made the observation that they "shun her like she is Count Dracula’s younger sister."
Clearly, there is no warming of attitude , no willingness yet to embrace Israel as part of the Middle East. This is where the true problem lies.
Yesterday two Kassams and 20 mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza.
So lovely to be able to report good news: A wall from the time of Nehemiah, 2,500 years ago, has been discovered in the City of David, outside of the walls of the Old City. This was announced by Dr. Eilat Mazar, the archeologist who recently uncovered what is now presumed to be remnants of David’s palace, on the same site. Dating of the wall was made possible because of the wealth of pottery and artifacts found in conjunction with it. "This find opens a new chapter in the history of Jerusalem," Mazar said. "Until now, we have never had such an archeological wealth of finds from Nehemiah’s period."
As we are able to see our biblical history coming alive, we are provided with a perspective that is solid and reassuring. The dig is being underwritten by the Shalem Center and the City of David Foundation.
The movement of Ne’emanei Eretz Israel (perhaps best translated as the faithful to the land of Israel) announced today that it plans to establish three new outposts in Judea and Samaria during Chanukah.
"The gravest thing about the Annapolis peace conference is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s barefaced talk of a Palestinian state. This is our answer to the prime minister’s plan…," said Daniella Weiss, a key figure in the movement.
And I say bravo to them. I analyze and discuss security issues and diplomatic issues, but I make no secret of the fact that I believe this land is ours and that there are ways to do justice to the Palestinian Arabs without giving them a state. Our people have, perhaps, been pushed too far now, with a prime minister willing to tamper with our heritage and make outrageous statements regarding the fact that Jerusalem is not a Jewish issue. He sits gladly with the murderers of Jews who would destroy us even now, offering to give them more and more.
Hazak hazak (be strong!), may the people who care about our land give hope to all.