Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ha'aretz on Qatar's Emir

I haven't done a close check of even the English media, but sense that the Israelis are having a field day with the Wikileaks cables, claiming that they vindicate Israeli policy in multiple ways. This Ha'aretz lede is an example:
"Israelis can't be blamed for mistrusting Arabs, according to remarks by the ruler of the Arab state of Qatar released by the WikiLeaks group in the latest of a string of surprising revelations.

"Qatar's Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, made the comments in a meeting with U.S. Senator John Kerry on February 23. A report of their discussions, obtained by the WikiLeaks group, was filed by America's Ambassador to Qatar Joseph LeBaron."

That summary is based entirely on the following:
"The Amir cautioned that the Syrians will not accept everything the U.S. proposes, stressing that the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights continues and that the return of this land to Syria is paramount for Damascus. The Amir observed that the 'Syrians have lost confidence in the U.S. and that the Israelis now have the upper hand in the region because of the support of the United States.' The Israeli leaders need to represent the people of Israel, who themselves do not trust Arabs. The Amir said this is understandable and 'we can't blame them' because the Israelis have been 'under threat' for a long time...

"'What has changed, continued the Amir, is that Arabs 'for sure' now want two states -- Israel and Palestine. When you consider that many in the region perceive that Hizballah drove Israel out of Lebanon and Hamas kicked them (at least initially) out 'of the small piece of land called Gaza,' it is actually surprising that the Israelis still want peace. The region, however, is still 'far away' from peace,
concluded the Amir."

First off, I don't totally understand what Emir Hamad is getting at with his surprise that the Israelis are still interested in peace, though if there's a general tendency to use "Israelis" and "Arabs" as shorthand for the political leaders of the various countries it could related to such leaders' fears of looking weak on the regional stage. Taken as a whole, however, and especially within the context of the entire cable, this is not some general admission of Arab perfidy, but rather a simple assessment of the effects of conflict on public opinion and a recognition that democratically elected leaders are more representative of such opinion.

The emir also asserted that Hamas would accept the 1967 borders, but would not say so publicly because of its reliance on popular support. That same point was also made in this related cable, which also explicitly warned against a Fatah-only approach. None of this made it into the Ha'aretz article.

Marc Lynch has called attention to the way in which lots of people are just using the cables to support their own existing ideas, with his focus being Iran. This is another example of that.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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