Sometimes it seems that Mideast merry go round just keeps spinning round going nowhere fast. Witness, Ehud Olmert’s first ‘bold new’ initiative toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For weeks, Sharon’s minions have threatened to refuse to allow East Jerusalem Palestinians to vote in the upcoming national elections under the ruse that they live in sovereign Israeli territory (albeit illegally annexed by Israel) and therefore have no right to vote in Palestinian elections (of course they have no right to vote in Israeli elections either since they are not Israeli citizens–talk about Catch 22s!). Olmert has taken the ‘decisive’ step of offering a compromise. The Palestinians may vote in the elections, just not for Hamas. This is from Robert Rosenberg’s Ariga.com:
Ehud Olmert has apparently made his first substantive decision since becoming the acting premier last week, telling Condoleezza Rice that East Jerusalem Palestinians will be allowed to vote in East Jerusalem’s five post offices as polling stations, but only if Hamas is not on the ballot.
Hey, that makes perfect sense. Let’s have an election here in the U.S. in which George Bush removes the Democratic party from the ballot. Seems fair doesn’t it (I know–we shouldn’t put it past him)? How the hell can you have an election you call democratic in which you exclude the only viable opposition party (one which could easily become the majority if Fatah continues to discredit itself as the dominant political player)? Olmert tried to sell this approach to Condi Rice. I wonder if she bought it. If she did, she’s an utter fool (and while there’s a lot I don’t like about her, she’s been pretty sharp and tough lately regarding these two wayward partners). Robert notes that the U.S. response is not yet known:
It’s still not clear if the Americans will accept the Olmert compromise between what had been Sharon’s adamant refusal to countenance any Palestinian voting in East Jerusalem, and the American insistence that Israel not do anything to give the Palestinians an excuse to cancel or postpone the elections.
I note with disappointment that the NY Times’ Greg Myre got the story completely wrong in today’s paper when he wrote:
Israel now appears likely to allow Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem in parliamentary elections this month, a move that would resolve a pressing dispute with the Palestinians.
What’s missing from this picture? No mention whatsoever of Israel’s onerous, deal-breaking condition preventing Hamas from the ballot. Olmert has got to know that neither Abbas nor any Palestinian will stand for it. It will appear to them (and rightly so) and more Israeli double-dealing in which it paints a picture of reasonableness which conceals a cynical portrait underneath.