Friday, January 5, 2007

Kiss of death

SINCE JUDAS ISCARIOT embraced Jesus, Jerusalem has not seen such a kiss

By Uri Avnery

"After being boycotted by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert for years, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was invited to the official residence of the Prime Minister of Israel two weeks ago. There, in front of the cameras, Olmert embraced him and kissed him warmly on both cheeks. Abbas looked stunned, and froze.

Somehow the scene was reminiscent of another incident of politically-inspired physical contact: the embarassing occurrence at the Camp David meeting, when Prime Minister Ehud Barak pushed Yasser Arafat forcefully into the room where Bill Clinton stood waiting.

In both instances it was a gesture that was intended to look like paying respect to the Palestinian leader, but both were actually acts of violence that - seemingly - testified to ignorance of the customs of the other people and of their delicate situation. Actually, the aim was quite different.

ACCORDING TO the New Testament, Judas Iscariot kissed Jesus in order to point him out to those who had come to arrest him.

In appearance - an act of love and friendship. In effect - a death sentence......

WHY DID Olmert go through all these motions?

The naïve explanation is political. President Bush wanted some movement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would look like an American achievement. Condoleezza Rice transmitted the order to Olmert. Olmert agreed to meet Abbas at long last. There was a meeting. A kiss was effected. Promises were made and immediately forgotten. Americans, as is well known, have short memories. Even shorter (if that is possible) than ours.....

Some of Olmert's advisors had a brilliant idea: to give Abbas hundreds of prisoners as a gift, just for nothing. That would reinforce the position of the Palestinian president and prove to the Palestinians that they can get more from us this way than by violence. It would deal a sharp blow to the Hamas government, whose overthrow is a prime aim of the governments both of Israel and the USA.

Out of the question, cried another group of Olmert's spin doctors. How will the Israeli media react if prisoners are released before Shalit comes home?

The trouble is that Shalit is held by Hamas and its allies, and not by Abbas. If it is forbidden to release prisoners before the return of Shalit, then all the cards are in the hands of Hamas. In that case, perhaps it makes sense to speak with Hamas? Unthinkable!

The result: no strengthening of Abbas, no dialogue with Hamas, no nothing.....


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