Monday, August 23, 2010

Middle East Peace, God Willing

Only God and Allah can make Israel and the Authority of Palestine negotiate what is billed as a two-state solution. It is about West Bank settlements and right of return. The lion also can lay down with the lamb. It is just that the lamb will not get much sleep.

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Middle East envoy George Mitchell all said that the Arab League signed off on this deal, to be concluded in one year. They were all optimistic that this prospect would yield results and marginalize hard-line factions. Other one-year deadlines have come and gone with no results.

Principal negotiators are thought to be Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and Authority Prime Minister Mahmood Abbas. Let us reflect that Abbas has the first name by which the Prophet is sometimes called. So this time, negotiations to be augmented by Israel neighbors King Abdullah of Jordan and President Hosni Mubarek of Egypt. The countries of the European Union will be represented by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Why would we think this process would succeed when other failed? Netanyahu has a fragile Majority and so does Abbas. Abdullah presides over a country that his father, King Hussein, expelled Palestinian refugees. Mubarek faces the kind of unrest at home that claimed the life of Anwar Sadat. Tony Blair might need Brussels to approve it. Let us reflect that Barack Obama has already been made weak by rampant U.S unemployment and a debt crisis that makes Greece look like a model of financial responsibility. Far from the stated goal to marginalize hard-liners, this process oddly strengthens them.

I say this as a realist about negotiations between Israel and Palestine. I hate the fact that Iran-backed Hamas rules Gaza. Add Iran as someone who has the capability to turn Israel into a lake of fire and Israel is surrounded by two existential threats.

In 2003, I wrote that Russia had just sold 10 surface to surface missiles to Iran. Now Russia has sold enriched uranium to Iran. Biological agents from their stock might be next. Russia is no friend of Israel or Palestine. Russia also uses natural gas as a weapon against countries of the European Union. Only Russia benefits from continued chaos between Israel, Palestine and the U.S.

No comments: