I have been absent the last week and returned last night. pl
"US President George W. Bush called Annapolis, the first substantive Arab-Israeli peace talks in seven years, a "hopeful beginning" for Mid-East peace.
Mr Olmert said it was not the first time he had articulated his fears about the demographic threat to Israel as a Jewish state from a faster growing Palestinian population.
He made similar comments in 2003 when justifying the failed strategy of unilateral withdrawals from Israeli-occupied land which holds large Palestinian populations.
"If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished," Mr Olmert is quoted saying in Haaretz newspaper." BBC
Olmert’s demographic brooding reminds me of an article that Dr. Krauthammer wrote some years ago for Kristol’s magazine, "The Weekly Standard." In it he predicted that because of the high rate of assimilation in the USA there would be no more than 50,000 who identified themselves as Jewish at some future date that he had picked. In the case of Israel Olmert would know better than I.
I do not think that the Annapolis meeting will lead to great things any time soon. Olmert knows that there are a lot of Israelis who do not want the kind of "concessions" to the Palestinians that would be necessary to a deal with Abbas. There is actually talk of the possibility of civil war in Israel. At the same time, HAMAS, although willing to make a truce (Hudna) with Israel is not going to be willing to make a permanent cession of territory to Israel. HAMAS would think such a deal to be equivalent to apostasy to Islam . In their view they have no right to truncate the "Umma. Hamas is not going to "go away" willingly and so far no one appears to have made the arrangements necessary to "disappear" them, so, I reason that there is not going to be a Palestinian/Israeli deal soon.
On the other hand, Syria and Israel wish to compose their differences. The Syrians want it because they very much want to get out of the "doghouse" with the United States. They feel (rightly) that the Bush Administration will collapse the regime if it finds a way to do so. As I have written, they have been seeking to open talks to improve their position for years now. Olmert understands that it would be a great improvement in Israel’s strategic position if Syria were "fixed" and became a Levantine version of Libya. Look for diplomatic action if GWB can just be persuaded to accept "victory." pl
I would imagine that the House of Saud will attempt to exert much influence on Syria to at the minimum, return to the Saudi-led Sunni fold (despite Syria’s ruling Alawis Shia), and to perhaps come to terms with Israel.
It remains to be seen whether Syria can be “seduced” into something close to “peace” with Israel.
I remain unconvinced that Israel would accept a Syrian military presence overlooking them from the Golan Heights, but should Syria accept the idea of a 3rd-party monitored “demilitarized” zone in the Golan, Isreal may buy into that as well.
It would appear that the Saudis are back on their familiar horse of “Iran-mongering”.
On the Iran front, past behavior suggests that Syria will continue to play all sides against all sides.
Israel’s leaders should be brooding about its future. Demographics are not in Israel’s favor. The balance of immigration/emigration is not positive. In fact, many, talented Israelis have taken up residence in Europe and North America. And finally, the increasing accuracy and power of small missiles virtually assures that Israel will suffer real damage the next time they decide to go on the rampage.
Despite the handwriting on the wall, Annapolis was just a show. Everyone played their parts, the show is done, and it’s back to business as usual.
Even the selection of Annapolis was ironic: “ana bolis” means “I am the police” in Arabic, an apt setting for Bush’s security driven peace initiative! Either Condi & Co. meant to deliver the USA=cop message or they revealed their chronic tin ear once again. Kind of like Chevy introducing the Nova to Puerto Rico to disastrous sales (“No va” means “it doesn’t run” in Spanish.)
I think that it’s important to point out that The Weekly Standard is owned by Rupert Murdoch and operates at a loss.
William Kristol and the other Neocons are being supported by Murdoch in inumerable ways including through Fox TV and The Weekly Standard.
Do you think Rupert is concerned about what is best for America?
Regional diplomatic activity that would facilitate a reduction of tensions and the construction of a regional cooperative structure, and economic integration, is welcome.
On the other hand, some circles in the US may wish to neutralize Syria (detach it from “Iranian influence”) before launching preventive war against Iran.
Meanwhile, the GCC invited Iran to a meeting. The Iranian leader, now preaching love and peace, may well attend. Given the level of economic relations between the GCC and Iran it is not logical (at least to me) for the GCC to facilitate Washington’s preventive war. Iran is the UAE’s number one trading partner, for example.
So perhaps Iran will move to some member status with the GCC, thereby strengthening regional cooperation and economic integration.
According to Kaveh Afrasiabi,
“By ingratiating themselves further with Iran, the GCC states simultaneously send a strong signal to the US and Israel that the hidden agenda at Annapolis – forming an anti-Iran alliance – will not be on their agenda….”
One might argue that Arab leaders well know that “domestic” US politics will prevent any solution to the Israel-Palestine situation in the foreseable future. Hence, while keeping relations with Washington “normal” some regional intitiatives by Arab leaders and Iran would make sense.
The number one place of immigration for Jews currently is Germany.
That is ironic on many fronts, but it should let the Israelis know that their time is running short.
One person, one vote, the only solution for the people of Palestine and Israel.
Nir Rosen interview on the surge in Iraq, chaos in Lebanon, Israel and Zionism, the Horn of Africa, and the Global War on Terror: