Henry Siegman has written an impassioned plea to the European Union to break the U.S. siege of Gaza by recognizing the new Palestinian unity government. Now that this government has been given the heksher (and undoubtedly financial backing) of Saudi Arabia, this should be all the EU needs, according to him, to recognize it and end the devastating boycott which has ground life in Gaza to a dead stop:
The recent agreement in Mecca between Fatah and Hamas demonstrates the fallacy of a widely held belief — that the United States alone holds the key to resolving the Israel- Palestine conflict. In fact, the Saudi-sponsored accord opens the door to a major European role in the Middle East peace effort. The question is whether Europe will walk through that door.
With the following single sentence, Siegman announces that he has officially given up on the U.S. as an honest broker in resolving the conflict. It’s a Mideast analyst’s form of tough love–like having cold water thrown in your face. But I’m reluctantly forced to agree with him, though one is naturally reluctant to concede that one’s country is much more an obstacle to peace than an enabler of it:
What made this achievement possible was the realization not only by Hamas, but by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah as well, that no matter how far Hamas might go in meeting the conditions called for by the so-called Quartet — the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States — Israel has no intention of returning to the 1967 border, and the United States has no intention of making the Israelis do so.
…Every time there emerged the slightest hint that the United States may finally engage seriously in a political process, Elliott Abrams, who handles the peace-process portfolio for the White House, would meet secretly with Olmert’s envoys in Europe or elsewhere to reassure them there exists no such danger.
It is interesting to note Siegman’s characterization of Abrams ‘enabling’ role in this context. On a side note, a friend who participated in an Israel Policy Forum lobbying effort this past week on Capitol Hill came away with the impression that there was at best a 50/50 chance we would attack Iran; and that the two figures most responsible for making the decision were Cheney and Abrams. If that doesn’t chill you to the soul, then nothing will. The guy (Abrams) should have a skull and crossbones over his office door.
Here is the heart of Siegman’s argument:
Now that even Abbas has come to understand the irrelevance of the U.S. role to any possible advancement of the peace effort, the question is whether Europe can disengage from its subservience to Washington on this issue and undertake a constructive initiative of its own. And if the European Union cannot do it, can a coalition of European countries do so?
The Europeans should announce immediately the end of their boycott of Hamas and open a dialogue with a new unity government on conditions that would enable them to end sanctions imposed by the Quartet on the Palestinian Authority. These conditions should recognize that Hamas should not be asked to do that which the international community is not prepared to ask of Israel. Hamas should be asked to declare its willingness to recognize Israel if and when Israel declares its recognition of Palestinian rights within the pre-1967 border.
…And given U.S. dependence on the support of moderate Arab regimes [like Saudi Arabia, which is the unity government’s mentor] in confronting Iran and in dealing with its troubles in Iraq, it is not at all unimaginable that such a European initiative will sooner or later bring the United States along in its wake.
It is clear from the absolute fracas atmosphere leading up to Condi Rice’s three-way summit that neither she nor the Bush Administration have much of anything to contribute to the peace process. What the hell is a “political horizon,” anyway?? Meaningless drivel. Our policy and the Adminstration itself is so weak that I believe Siegman is right. If Europe changes its tune, we will have to follow along. We might be dragged screaming and kicking, but ultimately there will be no choice as no one else in the world will stand with us in continuing to extract blood from the Palestinian turnip except Israel.