AT ANNAPOLIS, WILL ISRAEL SINK OR SWIM?
The umpteenth Middle East peace conference to resolve the Arab-Israel conflict is scheduled to be conducted in late November (or a bit later if at all at this rate) in Annapolis. Secretary Condoleezza Rice, in her remarks at the end of a Ramadan Iftaar Dinner at the State Department on October 5, spoke of “a real sense of momentum among Israelis and Palestinians to end their conflict” and the need “that everyone support this”. The meeting, she indicated, will be a substantive and serious one and address the core issues. To her mind, “perhaps the time has come. Palestinians have waited long enough for the dignity that will come with their own state….a democratic neighbor” alongside Israel.
Lucky for her, and for James Baker in the background, Haim Ramon, an Israeli Minister rehabilitated from a criminal osculatory exercise, declared recently that for him the most important thing is to preserve the state of Israel as Jewish and democratic. That would be accomplished, by example, by transferring major sections of united Jerusalem to Arab sovereignty. Jordan, having established a $1.5 million renovation fund, has already opened the bidding.
In a brief conversation I had with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni last night (*) it is my impression that it is finally sinking in that what Ehud Olmert has in mind and what Condi Rice has in mind is not quite in the best interests of Israel and that there is a real apprehension. Annapolis is being wrested away by the Pal. declarations and the upping ever higher of their demands. It is being supported by internal Arab subversive elements, including one Minister. But more important, Israel's Prime Minister appears to be incapable of grasping the reality of the military, economic and national ethos aspects of what the proposals he has been trumpeting are becoming.
Previously I noted that our leaders, Begin, Rabin and, it seems, now Olmert, are caught on the edge of a psychological threshhold. They realized that what their original ideas were have been taken out of their control but now that they are at a certain point which seems to be one of no return (their historical image, current public relations, their standing in the eyes of world leaders, etc.), they feel that they just have to charge ahead and take the plunge.
At this point, it is our duty to point out the danger. This is a sink or swim juncture and there seems to be no reliable lifesaver anywhere near.
(*) really. she was at the opening of the Begin Center exhibit marking 30 years since Sadat's visit to Jerusalem and the beginning of another peace process long ago.