July 16, 2007

It's A Party, And Hamas Is Not Invited

Most if not all of the American presidents of the last two generations have attempted to make peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. They have all met with failure, mostly due to a failure to recognize that the Palestinians didn't want peaceful coexistence with the Israelis, and the failures have reflected poorly on American administrations from both parties. Now George Bush has called for a regional peace conference, probably hoping for some legacy of accomplishment in an area where others have fallen short:

Declaring a "moment of choice" in the Middle East, President Bush said Monday he would call Israel, the Palestinians and others in the region to a peace conference aimed at restarting stalled talks and moving faster toward a Palestinian state.

Such a session could result in Israelis sitting at the same conference table as countries such as Saudi Arabia that do not recognize Israel diplomatically.

Bush said the conference, open to countries in the region that support a two-state solution to the long Israeli-Palestinian standoff, would be headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

He also pledged more U.S. financial support for the moderate Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas and called for the convening of a group of "donor" countries to increase international financial aid, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Hamas shouldn't wait by the mailbox for an invitation. Bush specifically told Palestinians that they had a choice between militant Islamist theocracies or an independent state. Hamas mocked his call for a peace conference as a "false promise," and claimed Bush divided their lands into two territories. Of course, Bush didn't tell Hamas to make their power grab for Gaza, but Hamas has a problem with "false promises" that far exceeds anything from any Western power.

Israel has already reacted positively to the statement, and one will expect Egypt and Jordan to follow along, since they already have diplomatic relations with Israel. The surprise may be that the rest of the moderate Arab states could join the conference. The White House strongly hinted that they had agreements with the other states to come to a conference that includes Israel for the first time. That would probably not include Syria and Lebanon, which would negotiate separately at a later date, depending on the circumstances.

Will this work? It seems like a propitious moment. Abbas has to deliver on some sort of normalization while Hamas is on the sidelines. If he can create a state with the right conditions, he could consolidate power in the West Bank and completely discredit Hamas, which already has credibility issues. The region appears tired of the Palestinian question, and Ehud Olmert would like to bring peace to Israel, if the conditions are right.

However, plenty of potential showstoppers remain. The final status of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount will create plenty of conflict, as will the long-established Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which house over 200,000 Israelis.


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Comments (16)

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | July 16, 2007 4:49 PM

I can't see Abbas making any serious deal. Oh, he'll tease and promise in return for more bribes..er... aid, but he'll do like Arafat and lie through his teeth. Face it, how can any leader of Fatah renounce the so-called "right of return," in which the Palestinians demand the right to get back the property in Israel their ancestors abandoned two generations ago? It would be political and physical suicide for Abbas.

Nope, this will be another No play in which everyone goes through the motions, but nothing gets done.

Posted by Lightwave | July 16, 2007 4:55 PM

Exactly what kind of peace conference in the Middle East can take place without the 900 pound gorilla in the room?


Unless this is a Middle East peace conference specifically to isolate and deal with Iran, there's no point to Bush even bothering.

Unless the Iranian regime goes, there will *never be peace in the Middle East.*

Posted by Okonkolo | July 16, 2007 5:22 PM

I'm reminded of the saying that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. To me Abbas only looks like negotiation/reasonable material in comparison to the disaster that is Hamas. On his own he is of extremely questionable pedigree and I'm not getting my hopes up, but some good may come of it, which is the point.

Posted by Fight4TheRight | July 16, 2007 5:47 PM

yawn. Pardon me but Cap'n Ed, you nailed it when you said:

" Most if not all of the American presidents of the last two generations have attempted to make peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. They have all met with failure.."

Anyone that holds ANY hope for anything good coming from this has got a few screws loose. It's a rite of passage for every U.S. President. And I would say 95% of the Presidents that have done it over the past 40 years all knew it was doomed before they even sat down - by the way, the 5% who didn't get is none other than Jimmy "IranOwnsMe" Carter.

Perhaps this is a way for the U.S. to appear diplomatic to Europe and others, and maybe we can even get some mileage out of it but bottom line is, these factions will never coexist, they will never abide by any peace accord. Israel is here to stay until Armageddon and the Arabs are intent on that not happening. And if you think a peace conference can solve that stalemate, well......

Posted by Wimpy Canadian | July 16, 2007 6:15 PM

What other moderate Arab states? Jordan maybe.

Certainly Saudi Arabioa and Syria are not moderate. The others don't count.

Posted by eaglewings | July 16, 2007 6:22 PM

The last year of a Presidency is always of utmost danger to Israel, as the President wants to accomplish a miracle, which is to divert muslim Palestinians from their genocidal war against Jews (i.e. Israelis), to the values of peace, co-existence and security. Not a small order. Thankfully through divine intervention (hardening of the hearts of arab murderers) these attempts have proven fruitless in the past, and hopefully this latest attempt to castrate Israel will meet with a similar result. One cannot have peace when the people on the other side of the table still refer to you as sub human pigs and apes and call for your destruction. And, contrary to the Captain, there already is a 'palestinian' state, and thus a TWO state solution is already in existence. That Palestinian state is called JORDAN, and has been in existence in about 88 percent of British Mandate Palestine since the 1930s.
What the arabs are talking about is either a three state or four state 'solution. Not a very stable practical solution to the problems created and maintained by muslims in the ME.

Posted by daytrader | July 16, 2007 6:48 PM

Saudi Arabia took their own swing at gluing together Fatah and Hamas and we see how well that worked.

GWB may be trying to play the host just to call peoples bluff and then show higher cards.

Fatah despite all the playing patty cake with Israel still has not gotten out of the woods with Hamas also taking over the West Bank.

But hey in a month or so he can just sit back after the summer recess and smile as Pelosi et al truck off on their own Middle East Solution and try to play their Ellison hole card.

Posted by Carol Herman | July 16, 2007 7:44 PM

Dubya made promises back in August 2001. To the Saudi "crown." That during his administration there would be a two-state solution.

Paul O'Neill wrote about this handwritten 2-page letter Bush sent out from the Oval Office, to Riyadh. Because Bush didn't want to make the Saudi's angry.

This letter was so good, Arafat made a special trip to Riyadh, to read it. And, the Saud's show off America's newest, latest, military technology. We keep sending it to them.

On the other hand,

This time around,

I think Bush is angling to get Condi "situated" among the quartet, so that she has a landing space when he leaves office in January, 2009.

He's also pimping for Tony Blair.

While in England, prime minister Brown is tangling with the Russians.

It's all diplomatic.

If it's going to be anything like the korean efforts; which took two years, in Paris, just to decide the shape of the negotiating table ... you might as well pick your own ending.

When the $190-million dollar bonanza actually lands in Abbas' hands. Like a magician's trick, the money will disappear. And, then the Fart'ah will cry that they didn't get their cut.

All of this is happening while the clock moves forward. And, Bush isn't out of the woods, yet.

Dubya does have strange loyalties.

To Ken Lay? Nada.

To the Saud's? Well, he wouldn't be in the White House, if Bandar didn't give the green light, back in 1998.

Anyway, while diplomats talk, and money changes hands, its posible nothing else bad is happening? In other words? You thought there would be a mideast war this summer? Why?

Posted by LarryD | July 16, 2007 8:34 PM

Lightwave, you may have hit the nail on the head. The Persian mullahs ambitions have a lot of the Arab regimes worried. This makes Israel a relatively minor issue by comparison, and the Palestinians have made such a botch of Gaza, and with Hamas' connection to Iran, support for the "cause" has faded everywhere but Leftist academia.

This could be, behind the doors, a conference to ally against the Persian mullahs.

Posted by anonymous Israeli | July 16, 2007 10:57 PM

As someone who (unfortunatly) has to follow these matters day-to-day, I do not think the optimism in your recent posts is warranted:

1) Both Olmert and Abu Mazen are unpopular, even less than President Bush is in the USA (Olmert has 3 percent support). The idea that these leaders could accomplish much of anything (assuming they want to - which is doubtful) is ridiculous, much less settle issues like "Jerusalem", "Right of Return", etc.

2) Getting excited because Israel and some Arab states are sitting at the table is silly. Doesn't anyone remember the Madrid conferencem or the various summits at Sharm el-Sheikh? These meetings aren't as uncommon as one might think.

3) Hamas isn't going to sit in the corner, crying because the teachers told him to. At the moment of Hamas's choosing, the entire Gaza area would light up, than Israel and Fatah will both have serious difficulties (If Israel reacts, it gets all the blame for everything, while Fatah is denounced for standing aside while their "brothers" are slain. If Israel does not react, Hamas is strengthened, Fatah looks weak and the support for an agreement drops even further in Israel).

Posted by Carol Herman | July 16, 2007 11:10 PM

Up at Drudge is a link to a solution on how to get out of Irak. With face saving. Supposedly, an army captain, stationed in Irak, posted this to eBay. I don't know how to do links. But if you go to Drudge, you could read this story.

The asking price is $5-million-dollars.

Bidding, so far? $20-bucks. But that's before Drudge ran this story, I'm sure. Left hand side. Look for this:

US army officer puts 'solution to Iraq war' on eBay...

Posted by Carol Herman | July 16, 2007 11:28 PM

To anonymous Israeli, and others. One reason Olmert stays in his prime minister's seat is that there's no war. Talk of war doesn't count.

Ollmert seems to get the respect, within the Knesset as well, since there's no other candidate there who can garner 61 votes.

It's true, this "peace shinanigan" has been around the table a couple of times. In the diplomatic world, as long as the diplomats eat well, they're in the habit of taking these situations into discussions for years and years.

While Israel's major problem is that Saudi Arabia is sitting on the world's oil supply. And, Irak and Iran both have oodles of oil.

What hamas and fatah do, actually, is carry on.

But as I said, if a real war were to break out, then Olmert's gone. It's not his schtick. Ehud Barak would be in the chair that controls the war. And, we ain't there. Yet. Or Never. Not sure. But no one can ever say "never."

Bush is currently bringing back the same promise he made to the Saudi's back in August 2001. In a hand-written letter. And, he's also seen to it that his friend, Tony Blair, is now in control at the Quartet.

On the other hand? Brown is the prime-minister; and he's turning his own heat on the russians. So, Tony may be in a chair designed for his tuchis; and still not find himself propelled into a new dynasty.

Like you said, the Saud's can't even negotiate peace between hamas and fatah. While over in Lebanon, the syrian giraffe supplied enough manpower to one palestinian refugee camp, that it now lays in ruins. And, the 11 other camps are relatively peaceful. No palestinian in Lebanon has citizenship.

Basically, the Israelis don't need the palestinians that are isolated within their own fatah, schmata, hamas, and gazoo real estate. What to do?

Unrealistic to think the arabs are going anywhere.

As to Olmert, this isn't a beauty contest. He knew what Bush was going to do.

And, right now Bush put $190-million "promised" dollars very close to Abbas' hands. How long will this still be visible?

By the way, if you could cure the "gang" situations you get in environments that have guns, you'd need to implement this around the world.

As to fart'ah, one thing Keith Dayton learned; even when you give them $16-million in military hardware; they refused to fight Hamas. Period. So, "having guns" isn't the same as it was. When you see that these arabs only want to use their guns on innocent women and children. They're not going to get far with that, when it comes to dealing with Israelis.

I guess with another $190-million Abbas will buy more burning hoops?

But there's new realities out there. Just like the terrorists in London and Glasgow; they weren't the brighest. And, just because they think this stuff up, Allah didn't provide.

I was more panicked after Oslo, because, then, there were enough Israelis who thought "why not." This is no longer part of the equation.

While up in Lebanon, Nasrallah holds onto power because ... well ... arabs are stupid enough to think Israel wants to invest in their property.

As to today' speech by Bush? I rate it a bust. He doesn't galvanize the public. He's about as interesting as Jimmy Carter. And, he can't manage to hold onto public approval ratings very long. THIS is what Olmert has to deal with! And, for Olmert, I have sympathy.

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | July 17, 2007 3:16 AM

The geniuses at Foggy Bottom and in Tel Aviv must eventually come to the realization that a good, old fashioned war; a knock down drag out slaughter in which one side wins and one side loses is the only true solution to this problem.

It's a shame we in these modern times feel we've outlived and outsmarted these very human historical forces.....however, sometimes total war is a necessity.

Posted by jane doe | July 17, 2007 4:10 AM

Are you calling for a slaughter of a huge section of the world?
Doesn't Iran say the same?
If all muslims are the 'axis of evil'. Why whine at being called 'the great satan'
A head to head 'tradiional' war is only being called so america can show it's military might,because you are being humiliated in Iraq, but can't figure out why.
Terrorism can be a method of war in unequal conditions, against occupation.
However i assume that by calling for wars to be like those in the past. You are also calling for the Geneva convention to apply, You would condemn torture,military commision's and internment.. That is refreshing.
Welcome back to mankind.

Posted by RyaninZion | July 17, 2007 1:30 PM

None of this is ultimately going to matter, because in the end Israel, the nation, needs peace with the Palestinian Arab public, not with Abbas alone.

As you noted:

"Bush specifically told Palestinians that they had a choice between militant Islamist theocracies or an independent state."

Well, the Palestinians made their choice in last year's parliamentary election, which Hamas won in a landslide.

The problem is not only that the PLO and the Palestinian leadership has failed to make a long-term decision to live at peace with Israel. The bigger problem is that the Palestinian Arab public in general has never been educated for peace.

Posted by LarryD | July 18, 2007 9:39 AM

I'm not the only one who thinks the Persian mullahs are making the Arabs re-order their priorities.

And Hamas has made conditions so bad in Gaza that some there were openly saying that they were better off under Israeli occupation.

In any case, the Palestinians are no longer a priority to the other Arabs.