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Friday, November 02, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday. November 2.
1) Fayyad resigns? Abbas recants? Qaddoumi refocuses? Arafat still dead

In a series of tweets, Jonathan Schanzer answers the question: Did Salam Fayyad's resign? (I've corrected the numbering but left everything else intact.)

Intro -> OK - I've got some color on the Fayyad attempted resignation. Numbered tweets to follow....
1. Fayyad did not try to resign to Abbas or the PA government. Rather, he went to the PLO. A strange choice.
2. Fayyad proposed to the PLO that the new guard Fatah figures who won spots in recent muni elections should form the backbone of a new govt
3. By proposing new guard, he appeared to be furthering his democratic agenda & efforts to help democratize.
4. In proposing new guard, he may also be trying to establish a political base - something he has traditionally lacked
5. PLO did not say no to his proposal. They did not say yes, either. Shortly thereafter, story was leaked on pro-Dahlan site
6. PLO/Abbas will not let Fayyad go. They need him to for transparency/governance. But they will use this to make him look bad.
7. Timing of this was NOT tied to UN statehood bid. Fayyad already has disavowed the bid. If sanctions come, he'll say "I told you so"
8. In short, this was a half-hearted attempt to resign. Had Fayyad really wanted to, it could have been done in a more direct/public way
9. Fayyad still has public opportunities to make a statement, if he wishes. TV appearances forthcoming.
10. On TV, to explain today, he'll either quit (unlikely) or explain that he's doing his best to help Palestinian politics reform (likely) .
11. All this underscores a clash of visions at top of PA. Fayyad has little support from US or base. Brinksmanship a sign of frustration.
For more on the recent elections, see Khaled Abu Toameh.

Elder of Ziyon answers: did Mahmoud Abbas renounce the right of return?
Abbas is defining himself as a refugee who chooses not to return under UNGA 194. But that in no way limits how the Arab world (mis)interprets UNGA 194, and therefore it does not impact the PLO's negotiating position in the least.
This way Abbas can continue the long Arab game of telling gullible Westerners what they want to hear without actually saying what they want so desperately to believe he said.
 
Less here than meets the eye.

Farouk Kaddoumi apparently refocused his attention - on Jordan:
A senior leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization expressed support for a new proposal for Jordan's annexation of the West Bank, in an interview with the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
PLO leader Farouk Kaddoumi, a founding member of the PLO, said the move would involve the establishment of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation.
Jordan's not interested and hasn't been since 1988.

Yasser Arafat is still dead.
A French official says criminal investigators from France will exhume Yasir Arafat’s remains next month to try to find out how the Palestinian leader died. A separate Swiss investigative team will arrive in the West Bank city of Ramallah at the same time. The push to re-examine Mr. Arafat’s 2004 death came after a Swiss lab recently discovered traces of polonium 210, a deadly radioactive isotope, on clothes said to be his.
Alas the AP doesn't take the time to illustrate how absurd the polonium scenario is.

2) The statehood bid, again

Once again the Palestinians are seeking to get their status upgraded at the UN. Israeli ambassador to Britain, Daniel Taub writes:
Frustration at the failure to reach a negotiated solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict creates an understandable thirst for alternative approaches. One such approach is resurfacing at the moment: the Palestinian initiative to achieve unilateral recognition at the United Nations. In yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, the former Palestinian foreign minister, Nabeel Shaath, demanded that “Britain atone for its sins” and support this move. This would be a serious setback for peace.
Negotiations, to be sure, have not yet resulted in a final agreement. But they have actually produced significant results. In fact, the very institutions and bodies that the Palestinians point to as the basis of their claim to statehood in the UN are themselves the result of face-to-face negotiations between the two sides. Decades of UN General Assembly resolutions, by contrast, have produced nothing. Indeed, more often the UN has driven the two sides apart.
The current initiative is likely to do the same, but with even more damaging results. While some Palestinian leaders have tried to suggest to the Western media that the initiative is designed to energise or restart the negotiations, their explanations in Arabic are troublingly different. For example, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told the Arab media in recent weeks that the Palestinian plan was to exploit a UN upgrade to commence campaigns against Israel in international forums, including the International Criminal Court and a slew of UN bodies.
 Assaf Romirowsky in Palestinian State 2.0 adds:
The late Palestinian professor of English literature, Edward Said, took it one step further and shortened the phrase to "a land without people" to imply that Zionists actually believed there were essentially no people in Ottoman Palestine. But mainstream Zionists from the beginning attempted to work with the Arab population and then favored an Arab state alongside Israel. Palestinians and Arab countries rejected this completely on November 29th, 1947 and thereafter.
Since then Palestinian identity has been rooted in three ideas. One is that resistance to Israel is permanent and sacrosanct. Another is that Palestinians are, individually and communally, refugees, made so at the hands of Israel. The third is that the world, specifically the UN and Western countries, must support these refugees until they can return to a future Palestine and to homes in what is now Israel. State-building does not figure into this.
While a functioning Palestinian State remains desirable, the fact that Palestinian leadership has refused to directly negotiate with Israel and uses bodies like the UN to endorse a "virtual" state that has no viable infrastructure is telling. Is the Palestinian goal a state of their own, or just the erasure of Israel, to be followed by what? Insisting upon a Palestinian state must go hand in hand with reviving the flat-lining Palestinian political system and institutions that would support it. If not the odds of success are slim to none.

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