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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Annapolis (Gaza update)

Remember the 2007 Bush/Annapolis Middle East Peace process?

(Reuters) Israel rejects truce, presses on with Gaza strikes

(NYTimes) On Fourth Day of Gaza Battle, No End in Sight. (Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the bombardment “the first of several stages,” suggesting that, with no active diplomacy in sight, the conflict was far from resolution.)

(Haaretz) "Israel has thus far refused to officially discuss a cease-fire, but in practice it is conducting an indirect and hesitant dialogue with Hamas. As of yet, however, there is no official mediator...."

(Haaretz) "The Foreign Ministry on Sunday released preliminary options for a "diplomatic exit strategy" from the operation in the Gaza Strip."

(YNet) "Speaking at a meeting with top officials, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructed participants to refrain from talking about the possibility of a Gaza ceasefire at this time..."

(So, the official line, "we do not negotiate, we're going to keep going," is more positioning than literal.)

(Bush and Rice are yet to comment on the whole thing.)

11 Comments:

  • While I don't necessarily feel it's the US's job to somehow solve the Israel-Palestine problem, I really can't think of anything constructive GWB as done to move the region toward peace. It seems this administration has treated this I-P conflict as an insolvable curiosity... The talk -- when there is talk -- is all boilerplate and finger wagging, but the actions are window dressings and shrugs.

    Hmm.

    I don't really know what the US, under any president, can really do with Israel and Palestine. Particularly when there are powerful agents on both sides who seem hell-bent on eradicating the other, and little else.

    By Blogger -epm, at 9:33 AM  

  • If anything, they're one sidedness has tended to favor more conflict, giving the Israelis the incentive to strike now under this presidency.

    And, I gotta say, I don't know how much it is about eradicating, despite the rhetoric, there's very little chance of that happening, but after 50 years of this, there are powerful individuals on both sides who would lose their poower if peace broke out and the tensions were resolved.

    The conflict has become an industry.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 10:27 AM  

  • OK. Eradicating might be a pipe dream for the extremists. But on both sides this is really about inflicting pain, not achieving a goal. Certainly not a goal of peace.

    Violence by one side merely rationalizes violence by the other. And in the process serves to solidify your enemy's domestic support. (In the short turn, a population supports whomever the leaders are in a time of national attack).

    To what end... to what end? When civilian deaths are no longer accepted as collateral damage, but as barbaric crimes against humanity, then perhaps things will changes. Until then?... Well, we'll just replay the same film loop over and over, shake our heads and utter "tsk, tsk."

    By Blogger -epm, at 12:06 PM  

  • Remember when the conventional wisdom was that if only Arafat were out of the picture, this whole thing would sort itself out?

    Mike wrote:
    If anything, their one-sidedness has tended to favor more conflict, giving the Israelis the incentive to strike now under this presidency.

    The Israelis can certainly count on the White House to defend virtually anything they do, but I don't expect the Obama Administration to be some kind of champion of the Palestinian cause, either. The U.S. will certainly continue to simply give Israel several million dollars a day and defend their "misunderstood child" to the world. This is because, sadly, the American Jewish community is far, far more "hard-line" than the Israeli Jewish community. The Israelis have to live with the consequences of the bluster, but the Americans can comfortably cheer from the sidelines where strident rhetoric is a luxury.

    By Blogger Todd Dugdale, at 12:23 PM  

  • Todd:
    American Jewish community is far, far more "hard-line" than the Israeli Jewish community.

    This is a very interesting observation. I never thought of it, and have no way of knowing, so I'll accept it as factual.

    But it got me thinking. Aside from the American Jewish community we also have a uniquely American Christian Fundamentalist community that also is far more hard-line than other world Christian communities when it comes to Israel. This too must aid in fanning the flames of Israeli hawkishness, as the End Times crowd cheers from the sidelines like spectators at gladiator match in the Colosseum.

    By Blogger -epm, at 1:13 PM  

  • EPM, what I'm arguing is that the more hawkish elements of both sides have an interest in stoking each other. Their motivations are self reinforcing.

    ....

    Todd, I don't expect Obama to go pro-Palestinian either, but I also wonder whether they would allow so much rope as when the Israelis were dropping cluster bombs into civilian areas in Lebanon without a peep from the Bush administration.

    But, broadly, you're right. The Obama camp will not tread too far into the US politics of the mideast.

    ......

    EPM, It is a somewhat accurate statement. There are settlers and a few political parties in Israel further to the right than anybody, but, broadly speaking, the public voices in the US advocating "for Israel" are generally further to the right than the shifting center of Israelis politics.

    I can't really say that the body of American Jewry or Israel support is more hawkish than the body politic of Israel, but I can say that the profile voices in and around Washington certainly are.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 2:00 PM  

  • I can't really say that the body of American Jewry or Israel support is more hawkish than the body politic of Israel, but I can say that the profile voices in and around Washington certainly are.

    This is closer to what I meant in my remarks, as well. There are significant numbers of American Jews who oppose these actions and policies. They just don't get represented in the media or listened to by policy-makers.

    This is not about stopping rocket attacks. It's about making life so abysmally miserable for Palestinian civilians that they will take matters into their own hands and overthrow their own government - the same strategy as the "contras" employed at our behest.

    The parallels between the recent Georgia/Russia conflict are as striking as the hypocrisy in this case is glaring. If you are "on our side" you can do no wrong, and if you are not, then everything you do is evil and outrageous.

    Shoes will be thrown.

    By Blogger Todd Dugdale, at 5:36 PM  

  • Yes, that's the motivation, but, I think you'd agree that punish the Palestinians until they overthrow Hamas doesn't seem likely to work.

    The Israelis calling it a strategy doesn't make it any more likely to work. Knowing your thoughts, I think you'd agree with this.

    ("Shoes will be thrown" is pretty funny.)

    Did you see that the British embassy living quarters in Iran was stormed? The protesters (?) put up a Palestinian flag then left. Just a frightening echo.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 5:54 PM  

  • I think you'd agree that punish the Palestinians until they overthrow Hamas doesn't seem likely to work.

    When has that been influencing factor in the region?
    It doesn't have to work, it just has to appear to have the possibility of working. Why bomb a university if you want to stop rocket attacks?

    The biggest loser in this entire affair is Egypt, whose tenuous associations with Israel are provoking immense outrage in the Arab world. Our biggest partner in the peace process is being sacrificed...for something.

    Is it really that outrageous in this day and age that Arab citizens of Israel should be able to vote, own property, and move freely within their own country? Because that is essentially what we are opposing.

    By Blogger Todd Dugdale, at 6:52 PM  

  • Egypt really is on the bubble on this one. They don't want all this going on on their border.

    The Saudis aren't looking too great on this either.

    The two large "arab" nations that are most likely to want peace are losing influence in this thing.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 9:32 PM  

  • Add Morocco to that list, as well.
    Basically every Arab leader who has taken us at our word looks like a chump right now, and every Arab leader who has been suspicious of our intentions has just been vindicated.

    And, again, for what? It's a pretty huge diplomatic cost for no apparent political/diplomatic/military gain whatsoever. We please the Israeli hawks, but they were already in our pocket and needed to be squelched instead of encouraged.

    By Blogger Todd Dugdale, at 11:40 AM  

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