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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Condi Rice is not Tom Brady

It is well known that Condoleeza Rice is a big football fan. In fact, it is claimed that her 'dream job' - presumably after she retires from politics and academia - is to be commissioner of the NFL.

Those of you who are regular readers know that I believe the Annapolis Conference is a huge mistake for Israel. You have often seen me refer to it as the "Annapolis conference mugging" to illustrate why I think it's a mistake. Yes, I expect Israel to be 'mugged' there for concessions that will endanger the welfare and well-being of its citizens without bringing even a semblance of peace. I believe that even if no agreement is reached, any proposal that Israel puts on the table will just become the starting point for the next round of negotiations, just as the Taba proposals are being taken as a floor for Israeli concessions at Annapolis.

You also know that I don't believe that Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert has a mandate to go to Annapolis and that most Israelis oppose it. (Note - the fact that we have not had a barrage of surveys showing just how deeply Israelis oppose Annapolis ought to show you just how left-dominated the media here is). You know that I believe that were it not for the petty self-interest of a few politicians, this government would have resigned gracefully or been thrown out on its collective bottom after last summer's debacle. You know that I believe that if what has been thrown about in the media for the last month or two is put before the Israeli people in the form of a referendum it will not pass.

You also know that I don't believe that 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen has a mandate to make concessions at Annapolis. With all the platitudes about his being duly elected, in the last election he faced, he was humiliated by Hamas. It's not that I favor negotiating with Hamas. I don't. It's that so long as the 'Palestinian people' prefer Hamas and similar parties as their government, there is no chance for peace between Israel and the 'Palestinians.' Yes, the 'Palestinian people' can be brought screaming and kicking to the table by shutting off the aid faucets and forcing them to abandon Hamas. But the second they come to the table and the aid faucets go back on, they will return to terror, because it's all they know. Terror has become an end within itself to the 'Palestinian people' and they have prepared their next generation to be terrorists. Because of all this, and because of his general incompetence, corruption and unwillingness to rock the boat to gain control over rival factions, Abu Mazen is a weak leader who will be unable to sell any concessions to the 'Palestinian people.' And even the Olmert-Barak-Livni government has red lines if only because there are some limits to what kind of deal they can sell to Israelis. For example, a 'Palestinian' 'right of return' to a truncated State of Israel - a demand Abu Mazen has given no indication of dropping.

So why the football talk and why the title of this post? It's not just because I want to remind you that now that baseball season is over, my football team is 9-0 and just won the biggest game in regular-season history on Sunday - the first ever between two teams that were at least 7-0 going in. It's because I want to tell you why the Annapolis Conference is like a football game, and why the approach being taken is mistaken.

On Sunday, the Patriots were down 20-10 in the fourth quarter deep in their own end with eight minutes left. As the drive progressed, quarterback Tom Brady threw a quick fifty-five yard pass to Randy Moss, which brought the Patriots to the Indianapolis three-yard line. From there, Brady made a three-yard toss to Wes Welker and the Patriots were within a touchdown. A forced fumble later, they had the ball back and went in for the game winning score with three minutes left.

But if Tom Brady weren't Tom Brady - if he were Chad Pennington or Condi Rice for that matter - playing a good team like the Colts, what would have happened? Most likely, he would have tried to force a pass into double coverage and thrown an interception, because everyone in the Stadium from the Colts' defensive staff on down knew he was going to put the ball in the air.

Condi Rice isn't Tom Brady, and the clock isn't winding down yet. It's still the beginning of the fourth quarter. Sure, the 'peace process' is much further than two touchdowns behind, but this isn't the time to start forcing things and going for broke. It won't work. What's worse, there will be consequences to the failed effort - as there were when Bill Clinton tried to do the same thing at Camp David and at Taba in 2000 and 2001. If Condi wants to try to make progress, the way to do it now is short passes and the running game - not the Hail Mary pass she's trying.

The failure of this conference is obvious to people across the political spectrum here. In fact, the only ones who don't expect it to fail seem to be Ehud Olmert and Abu Mazen. It's not just the right that believes the conference is doomed to failure. Listen to the left-leaning Reut Institute:
A document composed by the Reut Institute for Policy Planning assessed that the parley was doomed to failure and warned of the consequences of a breakdown in talks.

The document, due to be presented at a conference in Sapir College on Tuesday morning, estimates that the Israelis and Palestinians will not succeed in formulating a joint declaration that will be acceptable to both sides. This, the Reut Institute claims, is likely to lead to Hamas taking control of the West Bank and the international community abandoning its vision of "Two states for two nations."
Look at what the leftist Jerusalem Institute of Israel Studies says about dividing Jerusalem - another of Abu Mazen's demands.
Thus while Israel can cede east Jerusalem neighborhoods, it cannot cede east Jerusalem residents, the report says: They would have to be offered the option of moving elsewhere in Israel. And it requires no great intelligence to realize that most of them would exercise that option - not because they love Israel, but because Israel has jobs, and the Palestinian Authority does not.


But not only would dividing the city do nothing to improve Israel's demographic balance, it would significantly worsen Israel's financial balance: Since permanent residents and citizens have almost identical rights, the report said, residents of any neighborhoods Israel cedes would be entitled to compensation, whether they choose to go or stay.

Those who choose to remain Israeli residents will, like the Gaza settlers, have been forced to leave their homes by a government decision to withdraw from the areas in question. They could thus presumably demand the same compensation: for their homes, for moving expenses and, in the case of those who would be giving up local jobs or businesses, for loss of income as well. Those who opt to remain in their homes and give up their Israeli residency, in contrast, will lose valuable benefits such as Israeli health insurance and social security. And since that loss, again, will have resulted from Israel's decision to abandon these areas, they, too, would be entitled to compensation, JIIS argues.

In short, dividing Jerusalem would more than triple the amount of compensation Israel would have to pay its own residents under any agreement. Hitherto, most Israelis have assumed that at most some 80,000 settlers (those outside the settlement blocs) would have to be evacuated and compensated. But if JIIS is correct, dividing Jerusalem would raise the number of Israeli residents entitled to compensation to some 280,000.
It's not just the academics who warn of impending disaster. The leaders of the two countries with whom Israel has peace treaties - Egypt and Jordan - both warn of chaos in the region should the conference fail. I think it's safe to assume that they would rather than the conference not take place than that it end a failure.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu refers to Olmert's 'peace partner' as 'virtual' and points out the attempt by Fatah terrorists to assassinate Olmert as proof that Abu Mazen is incapable of controlling 'his own people,' let alone supporters of Hamas and other purportedly more 'militant' groups.

Olmert's coalition is on the verge of unraveling. Coalition MK Yisrael Hasson, a former deputy chief of the Shin Bet security service, has lashed out at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's talks with the Palestinians, terming the upcoming Annapolis conference "a fantasy, not a vision." Hasson, of Yisrael Beiteinu (which still threatens regularly to withdraw from the government), punned that the conference should be called Anopheles, the mosquito that carries malaria, because it "bears all the signs of malaria: delusions, tremors and a high fever." Off the record, even lawmakers of Olmert's own Kadima party have complained that Olmert was dragging the party too far to the left.

Most importantly though, the quarterback is an inexperienced rookie playing the Indianapolis Colts. Condi Rice has never concluded an international agreement in the Arab world where - like in a souk - each concession becomes the prelude to the demand for the next concession. Very few foreign diplomats have successfully concluded agreements between Israel and any Arab party. Henry Kissinger is the only one who comes to mind as having a concluded an agreement that was not a done deal before the parties arrived at the table, and in those cases (the 'disengagements' between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Syria) the Arabs - having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory - needed time to regroup.

Dhimmi Carter did broker the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel, but that's because Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made the biggest concession before they went to Camp David - he came to Israel and spoke to the Knesset - and because Israel had no need or interest in retaining the Sinai so long as its shipping lanes remained open. No one foresaw Sadat's assassination. Similarly, Bill Clinton's team negotiated the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, but the treaty was a foregone conclusion when the negotiations started. King Hussein had been looking for years for the cover to sign a treaty with Israel.

Think about it Condi: Sometimes when it's late in the fourth quarter and you're way behind with no chance of winning, it's better to fall on the ball and let the clock run out rather than risk injury to a key player. That's what's going on here. Annapolis should be canceled, and unless there is a real change in the 'Palestinian' attitude and leadership over the rest of President Bush's term, they should fall on the ball until January 2009. Then we can start a new game.

Please vote for Israel Matzav in the Best of the Top 251-500 Blogs category in the 2007 Weblog Awards contest once per day per computer. Thanks.

This post has been nominated for non-council post of the week by The Watcher's Council.


At 10:44 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

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At 10:45 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10:46 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

She has been dispatched repeatedly to whip her assigned colony into line. Despite her colonial stooges' many attempts to curry favor, they have somehow not met her expectations---yet. Now they must be summoned to the imperial nation to meet with Condi and their other enemies to abase themselves in full measure, at last. If they do this, they will merit remaining on her payroll.


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