This week’s Israel-Palestine quiz:
Who was recently referred to as sometimes sounding like “an Israeli diplomat?” a.Dennis Ross b. Barack Obama c. Tony Blair d. Danny Ayalon or e. all of the above? For the answer, read on…
Today’s NY Times reports a strong statement by Nabil Shaath defending the PA’s decision to take its statehood campaign to the UN Security Council. But what especially struck me about Shaath’s statement was his stinging dismissal of David Hale and Dennis Ross’ intervention on behalf of the Netanyahu government (yes, you heard me right–read farther below):
Mr. Shaath was blunt in his dismissal of the elements of a statement presented to Mr. Abbas on Thursday by Dennis B. Ross and David M. Hale, two senior American officials. Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and Quartet representative, has been the central player in drafting the statement. Quartet envoys were due to meet in New York on Sunday.
Mr. Shaath said the statement “violated six parameters of the peace process,” including accepting Israeli settlement growth, calling Israel a “Jewish state,” pre-empting discussion of a right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel, and rejecting efforts to unify rival Palestinian factions: Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, which rules in Gaza.
In other words, all that the pro-Israel flacks in the Obama administration could come up with was a vague commitment to do something on behalf of Palestinian interests in return for the PA giving up almost all of its key national interests in the negotiations. It would accept Israel as a Jewish state, renounce the Right of Return, and renounce any effort to reconcile with Hamas. And this is a serious proposal, how? What this proposal does is advance Israel’s narrow interests in maintaining the status quo. It gives Palestine nothing. That’s why Shaath made this telling comment about Tony Blair, one of Ross’ partners in crime in this little caper:
Mr. Shaath said that when he himself saw the Quartet statement proposal: “I gulped. This was the statement that was supposed to persuade President Abbas not to go? Mr. Blair doesn’t sound like a neutral interlocutor. He sounds like an Israeli diplomat sometimes.”
Why not? Blair was Bush’s poodle, why not be Bibi’s as well? More likely though, Blair is doing Obama’s bidding in hopes of some prestigious international post as befits His Eminence.
Henry Siegman adds his voice to the debate with another sharp rebuke of Obama policy:
America has absurd[ly] insisted…most recently [via] President Obama on September 12 — that a Palestinian state can be achieved only as a result of an agreement between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. Surely President Obama must know that left to their own devices, Netanyahu and Abbas will never reach a two state agreement, and that the only purpose a resumed “peace process” would serve is to continue to provide a cover for further Israeli land grabs in the West Bank.
The U.S. might have persuaded President Abbas to abandon the U.N. initiative in favor of resumed negotiations had it reassured him that if the Netanyahu/Lieberman government does not offer them a peace plan within a reasonable period of time based on the 1967 borders, agreed-upon equal territorial swaps and the sharing of Jerusalem, the U.S. would itself present such a plan to the Security Council.
Unfortunately the U.S. lacked the political courage to do so. Instead of enabling President Abbas to withdraw his U.N. initiative by providing him with a justification for such a move, the U.S. has sought to intimidate Palestinian leadership into changing course by threatening to exercise its veto in the Security Council and ending America’s financial support for the Palestinian Authority. Leaving aside the perverseness of this threatened “punishment” — which will not only end Israeli-Palestinian security collaboration but will increase the likelihood of a third Intifada — when has an American president recently threatened an Israeli government with any kind of punishment for their rejection of U.S. advice, even when Israeli actions have been in clear violation of international law?
If anyone can get access to the original proposal submitted by Hale and Ross to Abbas, I’d love to publicize it here.
On a related note, Haaretz reports that the Israeli government may institute emergency laws which would compromise the rights of detainees in anticipation of supposed riots which Israel anticipates in response to the Palestinian failure in the UN:
According to the plan, the police will be authorized to detain any suspect for up to nine hours instead of three hours, as currently stipulated by the law. This will allow the police sufficient time to investigate the role of the suspect in any disturbance, and is based on the assumption that there will be large numbers of suspects held.
Another assumption is that it will be necessary to create large and isolated holding areas where the police can evaluate whether a person in custody will be arrested or released.
One proposal would allow police to use force against those being detained – and not only against those being arrested, as they are now authorized to do.
While currently the law mandates that a person arrested must be brought before the court in 24 hours from the time of arrest, the proposed regulations would allow the police to extend that to 48 hours.
This would mean that for two full days there would be no judicial supervision of the police actions or decision to arrest.
That change would also harm the right of a person arrested to meet with an attorney without delay. The Supreme Court has recognized this obligation by the investigating authorities, and ruled that it is possible to disqualify admissions by suspects if the prisoner had no access to a lawyer.
Another chapter in the document proposes certain circumstances under which a minor, suspected of having taken part in protests, could be brought before a judge within 48 hours – instead of the current 12-hour limit.
Israeli criticism of the plan doesn’t revolve around violation of rights of Palestinians, but rather the rights of Jewish criminal suspects in unrelated cases which also could be trampled. Ehud Barak said that the Palestinian UN statehood campaign was a “train wreck.” Little did he know that it would also be a train wreck for Israeli democracy.