Annapolis 'joint declaration' was never signed; Bush 2004 letter 'only issued for Gaza'
Buried deep in a David Horowitz column on Labor party leader Ehud Barak's considerations over whether to break up the Olmert-Barak-Livni junta
was this surprising piece of information:
Burned by Arafat in 2000, Barak never shared Olmert's optimism this time around. The notion that the Annapolis gathering could mark not the mere restart of substantive talks, but the actual crowning of the negotiating process - complete with the dramatic signing of some kind of framework accord - was seriously entertained for a time both by the Americans and the Israelis. But Barak recognized from the start that it was ridiculous. Indeed, he doubted that the Palestinians would even sign on to a substantive declaration of principles - skepticism that proved well founded when, minutes before Bush was supposed to deliver it to the watching world, the Palestinian leadership was still balking at some of the content of a much watered-down declaration. In fact, although they grudgingly assented to the text at the very last minute, it has been suggested to me, astonishingly, that the document Bush read out was never formally signed.
Then there's the famous Bush letter that was sent to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 suggesting that the United States would support an Israeli demand to keep the so-called 'settlement blocs' in any 'final
." Here's what Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, has to say about that:
"That letter was issued now almost four years ago...," Hadley said at one point. "It had an impact in April of 2004, at the time it was issued - as a way of giving support to prime minister Sharon when he did a very bold thing, which was to decide to disengage from Gaza. And it was an effort to show where some bold step like that might at some point lead. But it was really issued at the time of the Gaza disengagement..."
But for those of you who expect Ehud Barak to jump on the bandwagon and pull his party out of the coalition on the morning of January 31, don't hold your breath:
One possible scenario, post-Winograd, is that he will call on Kadima to replace Olmert from within, and threaten to push for early elections if this doesn't happen inside a few weeks. But that raises the question of which would-be Kadima leader might prevail - the inexperienced Tzipi Livni, the so-ambitious Meir Sheetrit or, perhaps most likely, Shaul Mofaz, one of Barak's successors as chief of staff and a man he might be uncomfortable reporting to rather than bossing.
Alternatively, Barak might make a great play of seeking Olmert's ouster but in practice take steps that he knows would postpone the day of reckoning - backing no-confidence motions that lack a majority, say, or pushing legislation for new elections that he can be assured will move only slowly through the Knesset. That way the prime minister would get to hang on to his job for a while longer, and look increasingly bad amid the likely post-Winograd uproar, while Barak remained in the Defense Ministry, building his national leadership credentials and, he would hope, bolstering his chances of ultimately defeating Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.
And you wonder why most Israelis are depressed about this situation?