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Monday, November 05, 2007

Finessing road map compliance

Israel's leaders keep repeating over and over again how the 'Palestinians' are going to have to comply with the 'road map' - including Phase I which requires them to fight terror and disband the terror organizations. Yet, there is no indication that the 'Palestinians' have any intention of doing so and certainly not in the approximately three weeks that remain between now and the Annapolis conference mugging. How and why are our 'leaders' pretending it's not so?

The answer was contained in US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's press briefing yesterday morning (Hat Tip: Dr. Aaron Lerner). Watch this little bit of legerdemain:
QUESTION:Madame Secretary, I think this morning, it didn't sound like Foreign Minister Livni was talking about understanding. She was talking about potential steps on the ground to control the violence before the Annapolis conference even happens.

SECRETARY RICE: No, no, I think what -- I don't want to put words in her mouth, but when she talks about the implementation of the roadmap as being essential to the implementation of an agreement, that's our position too. You can't imagine the circumstances in which you're actually implementing an agreement for a Palestinian state and you haven't fulfilled the obligations of the roadmap which speak to both sides.

QUESTION:So that comes after?


QUESTION:What you're saying is that you're comfortable that they will show up in Annapolis even with some rockets flying into (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't want to -- I'm not going to speak for them, but I don't think that they -- anybody believes that the kasams coming out of Gaza are the work of Abu Mazen and his team. And in fact, what you've got here is the Palestinians trying to establish themselves as a leadership -- an administration that can carry out certain security tasks, which is why what is going on with General Dayton and -- you know, the Palestinians starting to take over some security responsibilities is very important. It's why, by the way, the work Tony Blair is doing also in terms of state capacity is very important.

But I think everybody understands who is responsible for the violence now and it's coming out of Gaza and it's not controlled by the Palestinian Authority. That's not what the Israelis were -- are talking about. They're talking about and we are talking about that even if we're fortunate enough to get an agreement, you're still going to have to fulfill the first phase of the roadmap because you can't imagine a two-state solution working without those pieces in place, both on the Israeli side and on the
Palestinian side.


SECRETARY RICE: I think they're all doing hard things in phase one. The real breakthrough, it was actually a few months ago now, is that for a long time, if you remember, the argument was you couldn't talk about the Palestinian state or core issues, which was in phase three, until you had completed phase one, which got us into an extended kind of circular problem for a long time about phase one. Well, that -- now we've broken through and they are, indeed, talking about phase -- what's in phase three, which is the establishment of a Palestinian state.

But it obviously wouldn't work unless phase one is actually implemented and it's just a practical matter. It would not work unless -- if you just read the -- I'd just encourage you to go read the phase one obligations and ask yourself, could you imagine establishing a Palestinian state without having met the phase one obligations? It just wouldn't work.
I want to point out a couple of things here. First, Rice says in response to a question "I'm not going to speak for them, but I don't think that they -- anybody believes that the kasams coming out of Gaza are the work of Abu Mazen and his team." That's misleading. As we saw last week, Israel is allowing Abu Mazen's 'Palestinian Authority' to pay the salaries of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade members who are shooting Kassams at Israel. In cash. Most likely with money received from the United States. The Olmert-Barak-Livni government is well aware that Abu Mazen is paying the Kassam shooters. They're choosing to ignore it. And Condi must know it too.

Second, the compliance with the 'Palestinian' obligations under Phase I of the 'road map' is on its way to being fudged. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I'm going to cite Dr. Lerner's words on this issue:
Secretary Rice says that the " breakthrough" is not requiring Palestinian compliance before final status talks but assures us that compliance will be required before the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Don't count on it.

When the time comes for a photo-op creation of a sovereign Palestinian state but the Palestinians haven't complied she can either look into the cameras and say how pleased she is to have received a report that the PA has fulfilled its Road Map obligations or proclaim once again what a swell guy Mahmoud Abbas is and explain that he will only really have the power to comply when he actually has a sovereign state.
Israel Radio has just reported that the Annapolis conference mugging will take place in the last week of November. Today, sexual predator and Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon announced that if the coalition breaks up after Olmert returns from Annapolis, any agreement reached there will be submitted to a referendum. That means that the only way to stop the mugging from taking place - and even this may not work (recall that Ehud Barak went to Camp David in 2000 with only thirty MK's remaining in his coalition) - is for Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu and Eli Yishai's Shas to leave the government now to bring about the government's fall before the end of the month. Will they sacrifice their ministerial perks to save the country? Don't hold your breath.

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