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Hamas suspicious about Rice visit? Israel should be also!
Posted by David Turner, Richmond, USA
Outgoing director of US national intelligence John Negroponte recently testified to Congress that "..the Taliban and Saddam's decline," "Hamas's election victory and what appears to be Hizbullah's success in fighting Israel enhance Iran's shadow over the region:" A telling observation from an authoritative Bush insider. It well summarizes six years of Bush administration Middle East failure.
When Bush overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq, he removed the two main obstacles containing Iran and thwarting her hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East. When Bush forced elections on the leaders of Palestine and Israel he planted the seeds of political chaos; when his dream of Palestinian democracy bore a Hamas government, he ensured that anarchy and civil war would result when he rejected the democratically expressed will of the people. When Rice restricted the IDF in Lebanon, she protected and strengthened Hizbullah and its patron, Iran, damaged the deterrent image of Israeli military invincibility. The Bush record in the Middle East is a continuous and continuing failure, a faith-based, ill-conceived policy, the results of which are consistently opposite those anticipated.
Amidst this wreckage visited by Bush policy, enter Condoleezza Rice and her mission to bring Israel and Palestine to the negotiating table. Virtually all concerned, the US, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, know there is not chance of success for a diplomatic effort at this time. Even were Olmert able and willing to seriously negotiate Final Status with Palestine, the Palestinian factions are clearly not able to take attention away from their internal war to focus on peace with the common adversary across the Green Line. Palestine today and for the foreseeable future is wracked with political anarchy, and a not-quite civil war. It is constantly on the verge of a new Intifada, trumpeted as a "peoples war of liberation." In fact, the stone-throwers merely provide a safety valve, a channel for frustration away from its real source, the failure of Palestinian political leadership, the continuing self-imposed national humiliation of incompetence, impotence and self-victimization. Apparently it is easier for their leaders to remain ideologically pure than to accept responsibility for managing the offices of state, for improving the conditions of their people.
Israel and a Future of Peace: Israel and Palestine are, in the end, economically and militarily interdependent. With a limited supply of water, they have a common interest to share their limited natural resources. Rather than enemies, they are natural allies in a world hostile or indifferent to both. But under the present chaotic conditions in Palestine, a peace allowing cooperation between the two peoples is unlikely. But it appears that making a show of aiding the politically inept Abbas allows Olmert to ignore the nettlesome and persistent Syrian peace initiative. Damascus - haven and headquarters for Palestinian terror - long ago warned that she would not be left out in the cold to deal alone with Israel. "No peace with Syria, No peace with Palestine!" she said. Precisely because Syria provides headquarters and haven to Palestinian terror, this alone should make it Israel's necessary first step towards regional peace and acceptance. Should Assad be able to uphold his end of a peace treaty, evict the terrorists, etc.; should Israel be willing to return the Golan, then a peace track with Palestine might be possible. Recall that whenever Israel and Palestine appeared on the threshold of accommodation, suicide bombers would destroy buses in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, or the outdoor markets of those cities. For Israel to demand Syria shut down the terror offices in Damascus is as much a non-starter to negotiations as would be a Syrian demand for the prior return of the Golan.
The Region, and a Future Peace: Thanks to the failures of the Bush Administration regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Syria, the regional playing field is far more cloudy and dangerous today than even one year ago, and Teheran would certainly step in to replace Damascus as peace spoiler in Palestine, should Israel and Syria reach agreement. But a quiet northern border, a peace encompassing Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, would increase Israeli security, military, society and diplomacy. A period of relative quiet would provide a future, more stable Israeli government the confidence and focus to deal realistically with Palestine, to assist by graduated steps the removal of sanctions supportive of the political pragmatists in Palestine genuinely willing to work for statehood and peace. If and when peace between Israel and her neighbors is achieved then their convergence of interest might well lead first to a free-trade zone, a common economic market. In time, such a cooperative effort might lead to the five Levantine countries extending their economic cooperation to include diplomacy and defense; a Levantine Union in which each constituent state retains its unique ethnic and cultural character. For Israel, this would finally achieve the Zionist goal of a secure homeland and refuge for all Jews, in Israel or in the Diaspora. A dream, yes, but so was a Jewish state not long ago! Im tirtsu, ein zo agada!
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