I have been absent the last week and returned last night. pl
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