Cast Lead Parte Deux On The 2nd Anniversary…?
Today, the Beeb had this lovely bit of news…
New Gaza war ‘a question of when, not if’
A senior Israeli army officer has told the BBC that as long as Hamas remains in control of the Gaza Strip, another war is “a question of when, not if”.
He said the Palestinian Islamist group had rearmed so much since the Israeli offensive two years ago that it was now in a stronger position militarily.
There has been an increase in rocket fire coming from Gaza in the past week.
The Beeb also had this gloomy report on the entire ‘Peace Process’…
“It was a total waste of time.”
This, a Palestinian assessment of the 18 months of proximity talks run by the US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.
“Rubbish, nothing, no progress whatsoever,” said to me by someone with in-depth knowledge of the process, shortly after the direct talks began to run into the sand last month.
Those talks have been abandoned over the issue of Jewish settlements being built on occupied Palestinian land.
So, the State Department has said, George Mitchell is heading back to the region to start over…
…So after all the noise and bluster and the “wasted” time, has this American administration lost all credibility? […]
“Absolutely,” another senior Palestinian source told me this week. And while they like and respect Mr Mitchell, the Palestinians believe it’s going to take someone higher up the food chain to move things on.
“It needs the [full] clout of the United States to tell [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu ‘You are going to do this’, to show willingness to take measures such as those taken by Mr Bush, the father [George HW Bush].”
It was time for Mr Obama to stop trying to “seduce” the Israeli prime minister…
…A senior Israeli politician told me last week: “At the end of the day, the choice is between this coalition and peace. Not ‘peace process’. They can live with peace process, they like peace process.”
…It is astonishing that despite the huge gaps between the maximum that Israel is willing to concede and the minimum that the Palestine Authority could accept as the basis of a final settlement of the conflict, governmental leaders, especially in Washington, continue to pull every available string to restart inter-governmental negotiations.
Is it not enough of a signal that Israel lacks the capacity or will to agree to an extension of the partial settlement freeze for a mere additional 90 days, despite the outrageous inducements from the Obama Administration that were offered to suspend partially their unlawful settlement activity.
In effect, a habitual armed robber was being asked to stop robbing a few banks for three months in exchange for a huge financial payoff. Such an arrangement qualifies as a transparently shameless embrace of Israeli lawlessness on behalf of a peace process that has no prospect of producing peace, much less justice.
Justice here is conceived in relation to the satisfaction of Palestinian rights, especially the right of self–determination that has through the years been whittled down. […]
…Netanyahu thunderously warns that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, that never will a single Palestinian refugee be allowed to return, that Israel is a Jewish state, and that whatever Tel Aviv calls “security” must be treated as non-negotiable. Given these predispositions, combined with the disparities in bargaining power between the parties, as well as the one-sided hegemonic role of the United States, who but a fool could think that a just peace could emerge from the such a deformed pattern of geopolitical diplomacy?
…Patrice Paoli informed POL Minister
Counselor June 18 that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
told French officials in Paris June 15 that the Israelis have
a “secret accord” with the USG to continue the “natural
growth” of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Paoli noted
that the French anticipate strong Israeli resistance to USG
pressure on this issue. He asked whether the USG has
considered how to adapt to possible Israeli responses: “How
will you react to Israeli reactions to your pressure?” He
claimed that “the credibility of President Obama will be
judged on the issue of settlements.” MFA DAS Ludovic
Pouille, who also attended the meeting, underlined this
point: “Arabs are saying progress on settlements is crucial.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt seem obsessed with the settlements
issue; they won’t even enter the game without progress on
settlements.” Paoli added that “negotiations can wait until
the fall, but steps forward cannot wait until then.” Both
diplomats emphasized the need to build confidence measures on
the ground now.
¶2. (S/NF) In stressing the energy with which the GOF plans
to approach the peace process, Paoli said that France will
not wait until all 27 EU members are in agreement before
pressing ahead with their support of USG efforts. Pouille
said the French can play an important role on “two key
issues”: working toward a settlements freeze and monitoring
the implementation of an eventual agreement. By leaning on
other countries in the European Union and within the Quartet
to bring their resources to bear (“their diplomatic presence,
their networks”), Paoli said that France hopes to contribute
to pressing the parties forward as quickly as possible.
Pouille stressed monitoring in particular, which he described
as “a big hole at the Annapolis conference.” He argued that
“the US cannot be the only judge” of progress.
¶3. (S/NF) Paoli explained that President Sarkozy will have
three messages to convey to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
when they meet in Paris on June 24:
— “You think you’ve got time, but you don’t.”
— “You think you have an alternative solution, but you
— “You think you’re stronger than the Palestinians, but
Paoli said that Sarkozy will stress that “there is a single
door and it is imperative to move through it now.” Paoli and
Pouille both expressed disappointment with the reservations
contained in Netanyahu’s June 14 speech, but noted that it
nonetheless reflected significant movement in the Likud
position regarding a Palestinian state. “It’s not easy to
reverse a campaign promise two months after the campaign,”
Paoli observed. They also said that President Obama’s
address in Cairo was extremely well received in France and in
the Arab world. “It was a speech, though, and it was a
received as a speech,” Pouille said. “The reaction in the
Arab world was: ‘Now do it.'”
Now do it…?