Ehud Olmert has had several of his cherished balloons pricked today. First, Haaretz reports that U.S. officials say that they will not recognize his proposed West Bank pullout as the final say in determining Israel-Palestine borders:
The United States will not recognize a border created after a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank as Israel’s permanent frontier, senior U.S. administration members said in unofficial conversations.
Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is due to arrive in the U.S. capital during the third week of May, has not presented the administration with a detailed plan for the second withdrawal he promised voters, and sources in the administration say discussion of this is at a very preliminary stage.
However, a number of sources said unofficially that they believed the administration would probably support such a withdrawal, but would not recognize it as one “after which there would be no more need for negotiation,” according to one source…
If the Israeli withdrawal receives the blessing of the international community, “it will be assuming that any reduction of the occupation is good for both sides, but it certainly won’t be support for a new border,” a source in Washington said.
Any reasonable interpretation of international law, a legal expert said Tuesday, “cannot allow recognition of a border that was determined unilaterally.”
Poor Ehud, there goes his plan to shut the Palestinians out of determining there own future. There goes unilateralism as the panacea for solving the Palestine ‘problem.’ Appears the old man is going to have to, at some point, sit in the same room with the ‘hated ones’ (perhaps even Hamas, God forbid!) before a final settlement can be reached. How distasteful!
Of course, in those nasty ways diplomats sometimes have of saying something and then saying something contradictory a moment later, the unnamed sources threw a sop to Olmert saying they might accept future borders which would reflect minor territorial adjustments (which means what, precisely??):
One official said he believed the U.S. would agree to see the post-withdrawal line as a temporary border, “which would become permanent, obviously with slight changes, following future negotiations between Israel and the PA.”
Ariga.com notes that Spain’s new ambassador to Israel has just told the Jerusalem Post essentially the same thing:
Borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state will have to be discussed and agreed upon between Israelis and Palestinians. It is an inescapable fact: The EU cannot be a negotiating partner for Israel…
Olmert and Abbas have both made commitments as to their readiness to resume negotiations. The priority of the EU is to facilitate the endeavors of the two leaders to reach a negotiated settlement.
We believe the objectives that both the parties and the international community want to achieve – that is, two states living side-by-side in peace and security – can better be served through a bilaterally negotiated process coupled with the external assistance the parties themselves see fit to request, and which the international community can provide.
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has just given Olmert a black-eye by inviting him and Abbas to a three-way summit to discuss the conflict. Guess who declined the invitation at least for now? Give you a hint: it wasn’t Abbas. This also gives the lie to Olmert and his ministerial flacks who travel the world complaining that they can’t possibly negotiate with a murder regime (Hamas). But they can’t get away with tarring Abbas with that moniker. So they just call him irrelevant and assume they can ignore an opportunity to talk with him. Of course, Olmert’s refusal to sit with Mubarak and Abbas will not lose him any points in Israel (though it should). But it won’t sit well with the international community, especially the Europeans and, to a lesser degree the Americans. One has to ask the question, if Olmert truly wants peace then what’s he afraid of? Is Abbas going to bite him?
And the final blow of the day for Olmert is the complete deflation of his swashbuckling kidnapping operation which spirited the supposed murderer of Rehavam Ze’evi (the Israeli minister) and several “colleagues” out of Jericho prison and into an Israeli one. Olmert claimed he was nabbing Ahmed Sa’adat before the PA let him go scot free. The only problem is that the Israeli attorney general today refused to cooperate with Olmert’s plan. AG Mazuz says he cannot prosecute Saadat because there isn’t enough evidence to prove his guilt. Gee, this is beginning to look like a Bush Administration fiasco special.
So what do you do with an alleged terrorist who was sitting in prison for his crime, now that he’s sitting in an Israeli prison where the chief law enforcement officer won’t prosecute him? In a normal democratic society that would mean the guy goes scot free. Though given this is Israel where alleged security concerns trump all else including civil rights and the rule of law, there’s little danger Saadat will go free anytime soon if ever. In fact, the IDF has announced they’re hauling Saadat and his brethren off to a military court where, no doubt, the standards of evidence and proof are considerably lower and it will be much easier to achieve a conviction.
The attorney general’s decision brings up another interesting point. The Israeli government has been telling the world for years that Saadat and his PFLP were guilty of the Ze’evi assassination. Now that Mazuz says he can’t prove the former’s guilt I wonder what that does to the credibility of the original claim. Let me make clear, I’m not claiming Saadat or PFLP’s innocence. In fact, Mazuz is proceeding with the prosecution of other PFLP leaders regarding the murder. I’m just wondering–on what evidence, if any, the Israelis based their original claim of Saadat’s guilt.
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