Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Return to the Mother of Conflicts

Published: August 30, 2007


WASHINGTON

The sources of global frustration with the Bush administration have been many and varied, but its refusal over several years to get serious about the Israel-Palestine conflict has ranked high. To dream some path led from Baghdad to Jerusalem was always upside-down foolishness.

So President George W. Bush’s discovery last month that “Iraq is not the only pivotal matter in the Middle East” was encouraging, as was his tacit relegation of the “road map” to nowhere. The Bush endgame, like Clinton’s, is going to see a push for a resolution of the mother of all conflicts.

R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, told me a “supreme effort to help Israelis and Palestinians define a framework for Palestinian statehood” is to be made. “We don’t rule out Palestinian statehood, certainly not, within the term of this presidency,” he said.

The convocation of a conference in the United States in November ups the ante and demonstrates that the incremental has been supplanted by a thrust for the finish line.

Is this just a hopeless lunge for the history books from a lame-duck administration undone by Iraq? Bush, swagger stripped, is weak. Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, may be even weaker. The Palestinians are split, the region radicalized by Iran rising and Iraq fissuring.


But low expectations are a diplomat’s ally. It may seem foolish to speak of exhaustion in a conflict with such proven regenerative capacity. Yet that is what a senior U.S. official found recently in the region, alongside a conviction that “it’s time to change the Israeli-Arab equation.”

In fact, that equation has already changed. The Palestinian national movement and global jihadism are distinct, but to the extent the former has been permeated by the latter it has redoubled the determination of Palestinian pragmatists like President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to deliver.

Regular Abbas-Olmert meetings of late are one sign of this. The Israelis like Fayyad, a manager and doer. Radicalizing currents are such that people see “this opportunity may not materialize again,” Burns argued.

Another shift involves Iran’s growing influence — in Shia-dominated Iraq, in Lebanon through Hezbollah and in Gaza through Hamas. The Shia crescent makes Sunni states jumpy. Israel is Iran’s enemy. The enemy of an enemy can be a friend.

“Most, if not all the Sunni countries, see Iran as disturbing, unhelpful and violent,” Burns told me. “It’s a hard question whether they now see Iran as more dangerous than Israel. But most of these states understand that Israel is not a threat to them while Iran might be.”

To coax Gulf countries to reach out to Israel — a Saudi presence with Israel at the November conference is a core U.S. strategic aim — the United States is readying a multibillion-dollar military aid package for them. It needs Congressional approval that will not come easily.

The package “says to the Iranians and Syrians that the United States is the major power in the Middle East and will continue to be and is not going away,” Burns said. It is designed to strengthen Sunni allies and bolster their conventional deterrence against Iran.

Unlike Clinton in 2000, who tried to coax Yasir Arafat to compromise and hoped Middle Eastern states would follow, Bush is trying to capitalize on Sunni unease to get the region to reinforce the Abbas-Fayyad peace push.

The other side of this approach is confrontation with Tehran. Burns argues there is no other strategic choice if Iran continues to enrich uranium and embrace terrorists.

The price, however, will be Iranian use of surrogates to attempt to sink in blood any Israeli-Palestinian progress. Why not quietly expand existing contacts with Iran in Baghdad to cover all issues?

A decisive political contest has begun. The United States must deliver by November or its conference will be a farce that only feeds the sophisticated Iranian propaganda machine.

Delivering means Saudis at the same table as Israelis: de facto, if not de jure, recognition. It means enough hammering on Israel’s “occupation” — Bush’s word — to enable Abbas-Fayyad to get the West Bank economy moving.

It means sufficient progress on territorial compromise and the principles governing the thorniest issues — Jerusalem and refugees — for Palestinians in Gaza to wonder if they are missing the statehood express.

The Bush administration, in its uncritical war-on-terror embrace of Israel, contributed to Palestinian hopelessness on which Hamas thrived. It can undo that damage only by ushering in hope.

You are invited to comment at my blog: www.iht.com/passages.


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

i don't get why a palestinian state needs to be a gift from the US... let Israel and the Arab world work this out on their own. we've been involved in this mess for decades and have what to show for it? cannot any progress that may exist be due to the death of Arafat rather than any action on our part? maybe i'm naive and ignorant but i get the impression we are infatuated with a lost cause.

Jerry said...

cheap wedding gowns,
discount bridal gowns,
China wedding dresses,
discount designer wedding dresses,
China wedding online store,
plus size wedding dresses,
cheap informal wedding dresses,
junior bridesmaid dresses,
cheap bridesmaid dresses,
maternity bridesmaid dresses,
discount flower girl gowns,
cheap prom dresses,
party dresses,
evening dresses,
mother of the bride dresses,
special occasion dresses,
cheap quinceanera dresses,
hot red wedding dresses

Anonymous said...

Replica Handbags
Fake Handbags
Knockoff Handbags

Replica Louis Vuitton Handbags
Replica Gucci Handbags
Replica Chanel Handbags
Prada Handbags
Replica Fendi Handbags
Replica Dolce Gabbana Handbags
Replica Chloe Handbags
Replica Jimmy Choo Handbags
Replica Thomas Wylde Handbags
Replica MiuMiu Handbags

Replica Balenciaga Handbags
Replica Coach Handbags
Replica Lancel Handbags
Replica Hermes Handbags
Replica Marc Jacobs Handbags
Replica Anya Hindmarch Handbags
Replica YSL Handbags
Replica Mulberry Handbags
Replica Givenchy Handbags
Replica Valentino Handbags
Replica Versace Handbags
Replica Cartier Handbags
Replica Marni Handbags
Replica Bottega Veneta Handbags
Replica Loewe Handbags
Replica Kooba Handbags

Replica Bally Handbags
Replica Burberry Handbags
Replica Christian Dior Handbags
Replica Juicy Couture Handbags
Replica Ferragamo Handbags
Replica Celine Handbags

Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.

janewangleilei said...

You can have a look at it.
jordan shoes
Wow.
newest jordans
jordan 7
Wonderful!
air yeezy
jordan true flight
If you like,you can contact us.
jordan 3
jordan 4
We offer different styles.
jordan 1
jordan 2
Thanks.
jordan 5
jordan ajf shoes
There are cheap shoes to choose
nike footwear
jordan flight 45
Good quality with low price.
air jordan 2010
Air Jordan 2009
Enjoy it!
jumpman
nike trainers

Anonymous said...

deduction voyages
[url=http://vimeo.com/user4498961]cheap hotel websites
[/url]bailiwick booking
cheap travel
uk lodging
[url=http://www.earthday.org/users/48490]cheap hotel packages
[/url]obama housing stimulus
bed prices
hotel deals brush off
[url=http://www.fairview.org/cty/members/klemot/default.aspx]hotel auteuil tour eiffel
[/url]half assess hotels uk
two-bit flights to faro
superior citizen accommodation
[url=http://www.youthcabinet.org/profile/Josh]aqui es hotel
[/url]expendable deals
hotels conurbation
cheap accomadation
[url=http://www.beautyresearch.com/blogs/alexa/archive/2010/08/15/hotels-and-accomodations.aspx]maldron hotel
[/url]the entrance conformation
hotels and deals
schedule booking
[url=http://www.mazdacommunity.com/profiles/blogs/special-hotel-offers-or]hotels cheap deals
[/url]airline do
relais
holidays deals

dfadf said...

Microsoft Office
Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Office 2010 key
Office 2010 download
Office 2010 Professional
Microsoft outlook
Outlook 2010
Windows 7
Microsoft outlook 2010

Anonymous said...

Neteller online casino deposit bonus
Lucky Emperor online casino no deposit bonus
acclimated casino chips service trade
newe no deposit online casino
online slot casino takes nucharge
rules side lowering jack
riverton wyoming gambling
washington state online casinos
turbo channel
free casino online merchant account
slot machines poker casino gambling comps
dice plot farkle rules
slots bingo gambling poker
host online casino
pennsylvania regularly drawing
online casinos virtual casino
thecasinoguide onlinepoker slots
pennsylvania sweepstake powerball
gambling using paypal
gambling internet slots casino indian
online sports betting line horseracing
mafia india online gambling
gambling systems
virginia lottery lotto south results
online casino game sign bonus
ireland license online casino
casino dinard poker
online gambling indian
online casinos accept epassporte
at no cost blackjack file card tabulation
hpt. police bust illegal gambling
slotplus online casino
grand casino hotel hinckley

jay paul said...

I really like your writing style. Such a nice Post, Can’t wait for the next one.

HP - ENVY Touch-Screen Ultrabook 14" Laptop - 4GB Memory - 500GB Hard Drive - Midnight Black (hp4-1115dx)

HP - Ultrabook 13.3" Laptop - 4GB Memory - 128GB Solid State Drive