Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Peace Process

I keep meaning to comment on the current peace initiatives involving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but haven't had time to get my thoughts together. Here are a few scattered ones, however.

First, the Bush administration is showing a serious effort in the region, where Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seems to be moving in. So far, all she has to show for it is a planned series of meetings between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas on the "political horizon." I haven't the foggiest idea what that means. Based on that Jerusalem Post story and Ha'aretz, it sounds like they'll mostly be chatting about Qassams and crossings, but I guess Rice wants it to sound more visionary. The Bush administration's sudden interest in this matter also worries me. The White House isn't involved enough to screw it up the way they do most things, but the emphasis on the appearance of action suggests they do have an interest in the region that requires a bone for the Arab states, such as a possible military strike on Iran.

Speaking of the Arab states, Olmert is sending a message via Ban Ki-moon that he'd love a summit with moderate Arab regimes. Such a summit would focus on areas of agreement rather than disagreement, which is exactly how you want to advance a peace process. Meanwhile, under a headline that says the Arabs states might "repackage" their peace proposal, Ha'aretz goes on to report that the contents of said package will remain the same. Israel, however, will never agree to all that "in principle" before negotiations even begin. Meanwhile, Badger has the interesting notion that Tom Friedman's suggestion for a surprise visit by Saudi King Abdullah to Israel might be the result of coordination between the two, which has happened before. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

UPDATE: I just left a relevant comment at Yglesias's site:
"Rice is spending a lot of time on Israeli-Arab issues, and Ban Ki-moon is also making it a priority, but there's also this bizarre rush to produce accomplishments that don't amount to much of anything. I mean, what's the deal with biweekly discussions of the 'political horizon?' The only 'political horizon' around here is the Winograd Committee report that may force out Olmert and the Labor Party elections that will bounce Peretz, and could lead to Ehud Barak deciding to bolt the coalition and bring down the government. Anything that happens before all that is wasted effort, unless you just want to look good."



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