If you liked Monty Python as much as I, you’ll remember the skit in which a dirty leering character asks his pub mate whether his wife “does it.” The conspiratorial refrain goes: “Wink-wink. Nudge-nudge. Know what I mean, know what I mean?” It’s absolutely hilarious in a knowing, low-down sort of way.
An article in today’s Washington Post which outlines a secret Bush Administration agreement with Ariel Sharon to permit major settlement expansion isn’t as hilarious. But it surely is a dirty low-down trick on the Palestinians whose future territorial integrity it has imperiled:
A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president’s efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office.
Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush’s letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush’s peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements across Palestinian territories on the West Bank. In an interview this week, Sharon’s chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the United States in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza…
Weissglas said that in 2005, when Sharon was poised to remove settlers from Gaza, the Bush administration made a secret agreement — not disclosed to the Palestinians — that Israel could add homes in settlements it expected to keep, as long as the construction was dictated by market demand, not subsidies. He said the agreement was necessary because Sharon needed the support of municipal leaders in the main West Bank settlements…
Weissglas said he then negotiated a “verbal understanding” with deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams that would permit new construction in those key settlements; Rice and Sharon then approved the Weissglas-Abrams deal. “I do not recall that we had any kind of written formulation,” Weissglas said.
It certainly doesn’t matter that the agreement wasn’t signed, sealed and delivered by the parties. It doesn’t even matter that Condi Rice is denying the agreement existed. What matters is Israeli actions and U.S. reactions. Israel is hell bent on completing the huge Maale Adumim project which will effectively separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank:
Olmert declared in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, published Sunday. “I say this again today: Beitar Illit will be built, Gush Etzion will be built; there will be construction in Pisgat Ze’ev and in the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem,” referring to new settlement expansion plans.
While protesting verbally, Condi & Co. have done nothing to stop them. That’s all that matters. The U.S. is willingly colluding in the theft of Palestinian patrimony.
So how do you look Mahmoud Abbas in the eye as Bush did today and claim you can deliver a peace agreement before you leave office? What credibility do you have? In a way, the article coming out today as Bush met with Abbas is the ultimate slap in the face to the lamest of lame duck presidents.
Of course, we also have to remember that Dov Weisglass (note: I think the Post is misspelling his last name), the Sharon henchman who claims to have negotiated this secret deal, has always had the utmost disdain for the Americans. I wrote a post about a delightfully cynical interview he gave in which he said that he and Sharon had Bush wrapped around their little fingers preventing the possibility of a Palestinian state for years, if ever.
So Weisglass’ interview today serves two functions. It reinforces just how tightly wrapped Bush was around their fingers and makes it that much more difficult for Bush to bring into being that Palestinian state which he and Sharon worked so assiduously to prevent. A truly crafty, devious Machiavellian, Weissglas is.
Thanks to Rupa Shah for bringing this story to my attention.