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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Condi Rice's extraordinarily bad day

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is visiting Jerusalem today and she has had a miserable day. You may be looking at the highlight above - a shared smile with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert. That came after a difficult meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak. At the end of the meeting, Barak issued a statement in which he said that the IDF's freedom of movement in Judea and Samaria was a "fundamental principle that must be demanded in the future as well." Oops. Then Ehud fled to Washington.

The first news that greeted Rice in her meeting with Olmert is that sexual predator Chaim Ramon, the man who would divide Jerusalem, has been replaced as Chief Negotiator (yes, follow that link and you'll see that DEBKA is correct - Ramon was supposed to be Chief Negotiator and everyone else is ignoring it) by Foreign Minister Tzipi Feigele Livni. Olmert could not have been thrilled with that lineup change either since we all know that Livni wants to replace Olmert as Prime Minister.

Then Olmert hinted that an agreed statement of principles was not a prerequisite to the Annapolis conference mugging of Israel, thereby rejecting another 'Palestinian' demand. And Olmert rejected yet another 'Palestinian' demand when he announced at the beginning of the cabinet meeting that Israel would not accept a timetable for the creation of a 'Palestinian' state reichlet. No, it's not that Olmert wouldn't like to give in to every 'Palestinian' demand. The problem is that he would also like to stay in office, and his Kadima Achora party has come to realize that between the Winograd Report and all the criminal investigations against him (another one was opened this evening), Olmert is not likely to last very long. They, on the other hand, would like to stave off the public outcry for new elections so that they can keep their Knesset seats until 2010.

Rice also met today with someone else who has his eye on the next elections: Deputy Prime Minister and Shas leader Eli Yishai. Yishai has already come out and said that the conference mugging should not deal with core issues, and should be limited to 'economic issues' (like how much money Israel is going to give the 'Palestinians' to spend on weapons?). This is from the Post's account of her meeting with Yishai:
According to Army Radio, Rice told Yishai that at the Annapolis peace conference Israel and the Palestinians would have to confront core issues that have been hindering negotiations for dozens of years.

"If Olmert returns from the Annapolis conference with a statement on core issues, it may threaten the unity of the coalition," Yishai replied, adding that Jerusalem was not on the table. "At this point, any agreement will be a partial one," he said.
Note that Yishai still doesn't get it just like Avigdor Lieberman still doesn't get it. Israel should not go to Annapolis because anything that is put on the table there will be the starting point for the next round.

Bottom line: This analysis from DEBKA is spot-on:
A time limit for real progress is also a key feature of Rice’s peace conference plan. In her bid for President George W. Bush’s sponsorship of the conference, she promised him an event that produced a historic success in time for him to bow out of office on a high note.

The US Secretary also dangled a time line for peace negotiations as part of her pitch to overcome the reluctance of Arab rulers to attend the event. She assured them practical solutions on core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be exhaustively addressed within a given time frame.

To make good on her pledges, Rice will need to bulldoze the Israeli prime minister into more amenable positions, else the Arab governments - and possibly even the Palestinians - will boycott Annapolis.

Olmert is meanwhile fighting to hold his government together. He is also poaching for support in the constituencies of the right-wing parties Likud, Israel Beitenu and Shas, in case he is forced into an early election. The publication in the coming weeks of the final report by the Lebanon War probe led by Judge Winograd could, for instance, precipitate a national poll.

Fresh from a bruising encounter with Russian leaders in Moscow, Rice has given herself five days of shuttling between Jerusalem, Ramallah, Amman and Cairo, to push Israelis and Palestinians far enough along the road to consensus to give the Annapolis conference a chance.

She started by delivering the Israeli prime minister a scolding before they got together. Answering a question about Israel’s expropriation of land between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, she said: “…we have to be very careful as we are trying to move towards the establishment of a Palestinian state about actions and statements that erode confidence in the parties’ commitment to a two-state solution.”
Can Rice bulldoze the Israeli government? Only if they think they won't have to face elections as soon as she leaves. That's why it's important for the right to keep the pressure on now.


At 1:50 AM, Blogger Stephen R. Maloney said...

Condi seems to have a lot of bad days. :-)

I'm delighted to part of "I Vote the Elephant" blogroll, as you are, and I look forward to working with everybody on the rapidly growing list to achive our common political objectives. Come pay me a visit sometime at http://camp2008victorya.blogspot.com/

Best of luck to you.

steve maloney
ambridge, pa

At 5:36 AM, Blogger 1389 said...

I can't imagine why GWB is so impressed with Rice. She's the poster kid for clue deficit disorder.

At 4:14 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Anyone who things the President is not on board with Rice's policies hasn't been watching this train wreck. The problem originates from the Bush family's close ties to the Saudis.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Daniel434 said...

This administration has made many gaffes regarding "Palestine". It seems to me that Condi is the lone one in the Bush administration pushing the issue of "Palestinian" statehood. This administration is far from perfect regarding Israel and Palestine and has done some profoundly stupid things. I still believe Bush has been the best US President FOR Israel.

Also, most administrations have always worked toward Israel/"Palestinian" peace, especially Clinton, but from the news I get here in the states Bush himself has remained largely uninterested in giving the "Palestinians" their own state. It is Condi or "Black Snake" to the "Palestinians" that is the only voice in this administration pushing this issue.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

It seems to me that Condi is the lone one in the Bush administration pushing the issue of "Palestinian" statehood.

Would it were so. Condi unfortunately is merely the human face of the "Realist" policies of James Baker and Brent Sowcroft that are now running our foreign policy. Bush thinks this takes pressure off of him for Iraq, and he is partially correct.


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