Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What Condi's up to

London Daily Telegraph writer Charles Levinson has some pretty astute observations on his blog about what Condoleeza Rice is up to and why there has been very little protest thus far in Israel.
First, people still aren’t taking this very seriously by and large, despite Condi’s warnings to journalists on Monday. Palestinians, Israelis, journalists, etc, tend to think this is going nowhere. The Israeli right has been muted. Netanyahu has been largely silent. Hamas has issued a few blase statements about the conference but doesn’t seem too concerned. It will be interesting to see what comes of an ultra-orthodox protest slated for Thursday against dividing Jerusalem. It’s the first rumblings of popular dissent against Olmert’s peace efforts.
Levinson is right - most people here don't expect the 'conference' to come off. But his warnings that we are all mistaken should be taken seriously:

Those who think this isn’t a serious peace push are mistaken. If they go ahead with this peace conference in Annapolis, then there will be tremendous pressure for something substantive to come out of it. If it all comes to naught and if it turns out they were all just going through the motions, it will be terribly damaging to the Bush administration, and more importantly, to the regional credibility of Egypt and Saudi, if indeed the latter comes on board. More worryingly, a failed peace conference and another round of dashed hopes will further entrench feelings of utter hopelessness among Palestinians, which some fear could trigger another wave of violence.

One recurrent tune of conventional wisdom says that Olmert’s government will collapse at the mention of a divided Jerusalem since the ultra-orthodox Shas and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu are certain to jump ship. Shas leader Eli Yishai told Condi as much Monday. That is absolutely not the certainty that many are suggesting. The peace process, settlements, and relations with the Palestinians have never featured high on Shas’ priority lists. The party is sitting pretty right now with four cabinet posts. Yishai will certainly think twice before toppling a government and abandoning that influential perch. At Camp David in 2000, Yishai used support for Barak’s peace bid as a bargaining chip to try and gain control over religious schools (Dennis Ross, pg 601). If that precedent is any indication, Yishai’s current tough talk is just bluster aimed at extracting the biggest possible political concession out of Olmert when the time comes.

As for Avigdor Leiberman, the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, he was languishing in political obscurity and irrelevance before he joined Olmert’s government. Now he’s Minister of Strategic Affairs and privy to the inner sanctum of government decision making. Furthermore, this is Leiberman’s opportunity to stake out a more moderate brand of politics that can make him a national politician with appeal beyond a narrow band of ultra-nationalists. He stands to lose a lot of political clout if this government falls.

Unfortunately, Levinson's analysis is spot-on. Read the whole thing. Especially the Israelis. We need to snap out of our complacency. I wish I could disagree with Levinson on this. I can't.


At 10:52 AM, Blogger Sholom said...

...And for more information regarding Israel's right to exist (or lack thereof).


Post a Comment

<< Home