Israel already looks to be intent on scuppering the Iraq Study Group plan for Middle East peace
Monday December 11, 2006
"This injunction couldn't be clearer. "The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts." Notice that "must" word. Jim Baker and friends shout it now, in terms. Tony Blair says it again and again. If you don't cut out the cancer of hatred, loss and retribution, then nothing good will happen. There will be no rest for Iraq, no spread of democracy, no rapprochement with Tehran - and no breakthrough in the campaign against terrorism (including, Mr Blair might add, the wild and woolly recruitment of suicide teenagers from Leeds to Lahore).
Dig deeper in the Baker report text to discover what such "commitment" involves. "For several reasons, we should act boldly: there is no military solution to this conflict. The vast majority of the Israeli body politic is tired of being a nation perpetually at war. No American administration - Democratic or Republican - will ever abandon Israel. Political engagement and dialogue are essential in the Arab-Israeli dispute because it is an axiom that when the political process breaks down there will be violence on the ground.".........
.....The list is longer than that, of course, but the point is a short, sharp one: there is no halcyon world where dominant Israelis and compliant Palestinians can be left alone to work out a deal. Everything connects - in emotion and often in practice. And Olmert fears that, which is why he moves so swiftly to exclude Iran and Syria; for including them brings pressure to his door.
Be clear. This is, absolutely, the reverse of the Baker plan. This turndown from day one. This is the abandonment of whatever wisdom the independent study group has to offer. Who needs enemies to sabotage prospects of a wider peace when "friends" do it instinctively? Don't they fear at least some retribution from US public opinion? Alas, no. As Jimmy Carter wrote the other day: "It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine ... Very few of them would ever deign to visit the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza City or Bethlehem and talk to the beleaguered residents."
Accept that American attachment to the Israeli cause is total - as Baker himself makes clear. Bring on more peacekeeping American troops. The hinge and the question, though, is how far that attachment should wreck everything else? Israel could be propelled into regional talks. It floats on a sea of US subsidy. It is, in many ways , the real 51st state. But it does not agree with Baker that there are "no military solutions" here. Nor will it commit to the necessary level of "political engagement". Does more "violence on the ground" follow automatically, then? It's a sad, sad way to "abandon" hope. "