Powered by WebAds

Monday, March 31, 2008

Rice expects deal by May 14; Shas buries its head in the sand

Channel 1 diplomatic correspondent Ayala Hasson reported on Sunday night that US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice expects Israel and the 'Palestinians' to reach a 'framework' for an agreement by May 14 - some six and a half weeks from now - when President Bush visits Israel for its 60th (and final?) Independence Day. Meanwhile, the 'ultra-Orthodox' Shas party continues to delude itself that it is making a difference in the government because Rice postponed her landing from 6:15 PM to 8:00 PM on Saturday night when the Sabbath ended at 7:35 PM in the Tel Aviv area (anyone want to bet that every single person at the airport to greet her desecrated the Sabbath anyway?).
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes that a framework for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians could be reached by the planned May 14 visit to Israel of US President George W. Bush, Channel 1 diplomatic correspondent Ayala Hasson reported Sunday.

Rice expressed this hope to a top Israeli leader Sunday when she met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayed. Rice's high expectations will put further pressure on the two sides, who were already meeting frequently in an effort to meet the November 4 deadline that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert set at the Annapolis summit for reaching an agreement.

After a late visit to Amman Sunday night, Rice will meet with Olmert on Monday, followed by a tripartite meeting with the heads of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, Livni and former Palestinian Authority prime minister Ahmed Qurei. US diplomatic officials said it was likely that she would return to Israel again before Bush's visit.

Barak learned his lesson from the last Rice visit, when she scolded him for not doing enough to ease the conditions of the Palestinians. This time, he came to their meeting armed with a 35-page document in English outlining the steps Israel would take.


Asked by the Israeli press whether she was satisfied with Barak's gestures, Rice said: "I would not characterize what we need or what I expect to hear as gestures. I really do think that what we need to do is to have meaningful progress toward a better life for the Palestinian people, for the economic viability for Palestinians, even as we move toward the establishment of a state." Barak's associates said they would accept additional oversight and that he had every intention of keeping his promises to Rice.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, who also met with Rice, slammed Barak's new commitments to the Palestinians. He warned that Barak was making a mistake by entrusting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to safeguard Israeli security.

"I brought her information from security officials and intelligence indicating that Hamas could take over the West Bank and create what is essentially an Iranian base there," Netanyahu told reporters after a meeting with Rice that was set to take 15 minutes but lasted nearly an hour.

Netanyahu said he told Rice that if a declaration of principles were signed with the Palestinians on the basis of dividing Jerusalem and returning to pre-1967 borders, the Likud and the people of Israel would not accept it.
Are the Likud or the people of Israel even relevant anymore? That's debatable. A survey issued at the end of last week showed the Likud dropping to 26 seats if elections were held today. While that's much more than its current 12 seats, and would make it the largest party, it is much less than the 35 seats it polled a couple months ago. Labor and Kadima came in second and third in the current survey with another 35 seats between them. There are 120 MK's in the Knesset.

For those who think I'm exaggerating about Shas, consider the following:
Rice aided Olmert's efforts to keep his coalition intact when she agreed to delay her arrival until after Shabbat.

Rice had intended to arrive at 6:15 p.m. Since Israel changed to summer time early Friday morning, that would have been before the end of the Sabbath.

An official in the Prime Minister's Office noticed the problem and alerted associates of Rice, who agreed to delay her arrival to 8 p.m. to avoid offending Shas.

"Our presence in the coalition has made such an impression on the government that we did not even have to interfere in order to make sure that the Sabbath would be respected," a Shas spokesman said. "This is just another reason why it is imperative for Shas to remain in the government."
Delusions of grandeur?


At 7:18 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Keeping the Shabbat is more important to Shas than preventing 400,000 Jews from being kicked out of their homes. At least it has its priorities in order.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


My point wasn't Shas' priorities.

My point was that they had no effect. Did the fact that Rice arrived 25 minutes after the Sabbath ended prevent desecration of the Sabbath? Highly doubtful.


Post a Comment

<< Home