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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to the international conference table?

From 1967 until roughly the start of Oslo, Israel held out for direct negotiations with each of the neighboring states (not the 'Palestinians'), while the Arab countries held out for a massive international conference at which they would outnumber Israel and not sit in a room with it. In fact, the Madrid Conference in 1991 was the first time that the Arab countries sat in a room with Israel. The sole exception to this was the Egyptians, who made peace with Israel between 1977 and 1982.

Israel feared an 'international conference' because it feared being outnumbered and it feared an environment where the lowest common denominator - i.e. the most extreme Arab countries - would dominate. We are going back to that environment.
First, Abbas is now refusing to make any decision about peace, instead deferring to Arab states. With all the talk about the critical importance of Palestinian independence, this is a giant--even historic--step backwards. His motivations are not complex: He wants to avoid Palestinian and wider Arab criticism. As long as he follows Arab League strictures he will. But the price paid is hugely reduced flexibility, and a return to the days when the Palestinians were under the control of Arab states rather than masters of their own future.

Second, putting the Arab League in charge magnifies the influence of bad actors. To get negotiations going, the Obama administration now has to convince not only Abbas, but Bashar al Assad. Perhaps this helps explain why George Mitchell has visited Damascus and why the administration persists in “outreach” to Syria despite its continuing evil conduct (most recently, reports of the shipment of Scud missiles to Hezbollah). Having committed itself to the “peace process,” the administration simply cannot afford to treat Syria as it deserves; Syria has too much clout now.

The Arab League Monitoring or "follow-up committee" includes Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen, and Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa. This means that the influence of Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel, is undermined by that of Syria, Qatar, and Moussa--all likely to take positions adverse to U.S. and Palestinian interests. Abbas’s refusal to provide firm leadership (also evident in the amount of time he spends circling the globe or living in his home in Amman, Jordan) may prove costly to both the United States and his own people.
The Obama administration ran Abu Mazen up a tree with its over-eagerness and its overzealous advocacy of what it decided was the 'Palestinian' position. Then it climbed out of the tree and took away the ladder, continuing to be more 'Palestinian' than the 'Palestinians,' and leaving Abu Mazen with no choice but to play along. Now, Abu Mazen is afraid to come out of the tree. He is looking for the Arab countries to provide him with a ladder. He has made himself into their puppet.

But the Arab countries have no interest in providing that ladder. They'd rather lift Abu Mazen right off the stage. If Abu Mazen were ever to reach a deal with Israel, one of that deal's elements would be the waiving the putative 'right of return' to Israel proper that has been claimed by the 'Palestinians' for four generations. If that were to happen, the Arab countries would have to do something about their 'Palestinian' populations. If they were left to fester in 'refugee camps' with no prospect at all of returning to where their ancestors lived in pre-State Israel (as they have been for the last 62 years), they would undoubtedly revolt against their host country regimes and possibly endanger their continued rule. So the Arab countries can never approve of waiving the 'right of return,' and if the 'Palestinians' cannot make a deal without the Arab countries, there will be no deal.

Moreover, Abu Mazen has no legitimacy whatsoever. His term in office ended more than a year ago, but he cannot and will not call elections. Half his population lives in Gaza under the Hamas terror organization, a problem that the Obami continue to try to ignore.

The prospect of Abu Mazen turning himself into an Arab League puppet makes 'peace' even less likely than ever. It makes it more likely that there will instead be an 'international conference' that will go nowhere. You have to wonder why the Obami haven't realized this, and why they continue to expend political capital on something that has no chance of happening.


At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand this post. If there were a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians that permitted resettlement of refugees to a Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza the Arab countries currently hosting Palestinians could be rid of them--they could go to that Palestine--so by the argument of this very poster the Arabs should be pushing for an agreement on Israeli terms on right of return to finally free themselves of dealing with Palestinian national enclaves. This can't be the reason they are resisting.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Again, the Arabs stake out extreme positions while the Israelis try to sound reasonable. You can guess where that leads. By agreeing to participate in "indirect talks" the Israelis are basically acceding to the Arabs and signaling that they will make more concessions. Arab intransigence should be met by even more extreme Israeli intransigence. Just like any negotiation. Not that negotiations with the Arabs is going to produce anything. This is simply a way to mollify the US until it gets tired of the whole thing. Of course, the Israelis need to appear cooperative to the US, but you are smart, you can do it.

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

One other thing: I don't understand why the Israelis don't continually bring up Hamas and Abbas's weak electoral position? Instead of talking about Jerusalem, they should be moving the focus to Hamas.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger nomatter said...

"You have to wonder why the Obami haven't realized this, and why they continue to expend political capital on something that has no chance of happening."

They have all expended political capital for that NOTCH IN THEIR BELT!!

...and they have done it with no regard to Israel and honor not to mention truth.

When push came to shove on the issue of Palestinian statehood
George W. became Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. He did it following 9-11, the intifada of horror and of all things,during the war on terror.

Yes indeed friends, Obama is a million times worse because he is in your face hostile but if you don't return to the scene of the crime itself and address who laid the ground work for this horror we will continue to be lost.

I have come to the conclusion the only reason these maniacs and friends loose all sense of reality has more to do with us and who we are then the homicidal Palestinian - two state hell. I don't really blame the Palestinians anymore as much as I blame those who lied and appeased and used us and yes, our friendship to get that NOTCH IN THEIR BELT!! In my heart of hearts I truly believe they use the Palestinians under the guise of fulfilling their aspirations for statehood (wiping us off the map)to screw us to make the wider Arab/Islamic/European Jew haters happy.

The train having already left the station is about the next one in becoming the train conductor. Who he is and what he will do for us and against us becomes once again, our problem.

Take good care of Olmert, indeed. Cry for Jerusalem, cry me a river. Was it so foggy we had no idea how we got here??! Or don't we care?

At 4:45 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

If the Arab League says "no" this weekend as expected, Abu Bluff has has his ultimate trump card to refuse to engage in proximity talks. The Arab states will make demands no Israeli government can accept as the price for its approval of such talks and its a safe bet now they will not restart any time soon - perhaps never.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Y.K. said...

Sparky, I believe I can explain this:

First, said "refugess" do not want to "return" to the WB, but to Israel proper, or more accurately an imaginary version of Israel pre-1948. Worse, the WB can't contain them - it can barely provide for the Palestinians currently existing there.

Remove their dream and they are left with the "choice" between a squalid refugee camp where they are and a squalid refugee camp in the WB - and their response to this would be unpredictable. I wouldn't be too surprised if the Arab regimes prefer the current situation.

Second, you are right, there are other reasons. The Arab regimes use and need the conflict as an excuse to everything that is wrong in the Arab world.

At 4:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yair, well, that still leaves Lebanon with a problem and other hosts. (Kuwait solved its problem)--unless the idea is to wait for Israel to be destroyed. But meanwhile, the situation you described (Palestinians preferring to sit in the camps where they are rather than an uncertain future in WB) is the description that exists today. So the status quo is no better than your worst case outcome. Palestinians stay as national separatist element in hosts. Maybe they can get imaginary houses in their imaginary perfect cities of their imaginary Palestine. A post-colonial Philip K. Dick world.


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