November 16, 2005

Congrats, Condi!

Good deeds in the Holy Land. Note too, Sharon's tacking to the center is reaping dividends. Still, the future of the peace process remains very much up in the air. For one, there is speculation that Sharon's latest concession, a not insignificant one, is part of his "Gaza First, Gaza Last" playbook. And, on the other side, we can expect several Palestinian factions to attempt to play spoiler, particularly by abusing the Rafah border crossing to move materiel used in terror attacks. Analysis will have to wait until another night, but just a quick note to congratulate Condi Rice on a job well done. I'm still dubious in the extreme we will get to final status talks by '08, but at least we've got a little shot in the arm for a change rather than peace process drift & decay.

Posted by Gregory at November 16, 2005 05:31 AM | TrackBack (2)

IF Abbas disarms Hamas, and Sharon tries Gaza first, Gaza last, we'll have a Labour party Israeli PM to negotiate with.

If Abbas does NOT disarm Hamas, I will find it very hard to fault Sharon for reluctance to negotiate a withdrawl from more of the West Bank (GF, GL is inaccurate, as israel also withdrew from 4 West bank settlements along with the Gaza withdrawl) At some point the ball has to be back in the Pals court, and Abbas has to come through.

But good for Condi for getting a deal.

Posted by: liberalhawk at November 16, 2005 04:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My prediction of where this deal will lead:

Abbas cannot and will not disarm Hamas, the Al Aqsa Brigades or anybody else. He has neither the desire nor the ability to do so. The EU guards will have to either look the other way when weapons are smuggeled across the borders, or they will intercept them, in which case they will be attacked. Are the Europeans prepared for the eventuality when their security people are the targets of suicide bombers? There will be a huge increase in the quantity & quality of weapons entering Gaza. These weapons will be used not only against Israel, and the hapless EU border guards, but also in the growing interfactional Palestinian civil war.

The fact that Belgravia Dispatch is a "diplomacy-centric" blog results in the tendancy to see the Arab-Israeli dispute as one which is accessable to diplomatic processes. It isn't. To turn Bismark's comment around, "diplomacy is just war by other means".

That is where this deal fits in, & that is where it will lead.

Posted by: Kenenth at November 16, 2005 06:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

lh says: "GF, GL is inaccurate, as israel also withdrew from 4 West bank settlements along with the Gaza withdrawl"

the withdrawal from the four relatively insignificant settlements was largely symbolic, a concession wrested by the american side to make precisely the argument i've made here, that GF can't be (or shouldn't be) GL.

all serious observers realize that the de minimis west bank pull out in know way impacts the fact that GF, GL is still very much a live issue.

Posted by: gregory at November 16, 2005 08:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Im sorry Greg, but i see the withdrawl from four WB settlements as NOT insignificant, precisely because it extended the Gaza precedent to the West Bank, and IIUC it added to the political trauma over the withdrawl in Israel. And the fact that small, isolated settlements were chosen is not an arguement for insignificance - most the settlements Israel will likely withdraw from are small and isolated. The few large, contiguous ones - Ariel, Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, etc are likely to end up annexed to Israel, as presented in the Barak initiatives. The informal "Geneva Accord" differed from the Barak initiatives in this regard only in terms of the territorial compensation the PA would receive in exchange for these areas.

and again, there is no question that Israel must withdrawl from most of the West Bank, if there is to be a lasting peace. The question now is who makes the next step? Can any Israeli govt withdraw from most of the West Bank when the issue of Hamas, IJ, and AAMB has not been resolved? What kinds of pressure would be required to wrestle out such a withdrawl without Abbas first demonstrating a serious commmitment to disarming the terrorists? What would be the implications for US credibility of applying such pressure?

Posted by: liberalhawk at November 16, 2005 09:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


How can anyone expect a "lasting peace" if Hamas, IJ, etc, all insist on destroying Israel and Abbas refuses or is unable to disarm them? What is the point of pressuring Israel to withdraw from the West Bank without any progress from Abbas? Do you imagine Hamas would suddenly disarm themselves?

Withdrawal from the West Bank, or Gaza is not the underlying precondition for peace. Disarming the terrorist organizations dedicated to destroying Israel is the surest precondition for peace.

Posted by: Kenenth at November 16, 2005 10:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Palestinian strategy (Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian Authority, Islamic Jihad, together with Hizbullah and Iran, etc.) is to prolong the conflict until the knockout blow can be made---if, by that time, one is even necessary.

As such, neither Clinton's or Barak's diplomatic failure, nor Rice's latest diplomatic coup, nor the Gaza withdrawal, nor the withdrawals from the West Bank settlements, nor an Israel withdrawal from any part (or all) of the West Bank or East Jerusalem should be expected to have any effect, real or lasting--- given the demand that Palestinian refugees must be readmitted to the homes they or their families once lived in (no, not just a tactical demand, sorry).

Such moves (and projected moves) merely demonstrate the absolute correctness of Arafat's vision, and brilliance, and serve to reinforce and encourage the firmly held, longstanding conviction that Israel---that great mistake of History, that crime against the Arab nation---can ultimately be rolled back into non-existence.

Which conviction will continue to be encouraged until---unless---it is, conclusively, shown to be wrong.

Yet, such a conclusive demonstration of wrongness is not, generally---except in the fanciful views of those divorced from reality---achieved by persuasion of the diplomatic variety.

The knowledge that Israel will continue to be weakened by negotiation and tarred if she uses force in her defense is most comforting to those who view her demise as inevitable.

At this point in time, after all that has happened and all the grim and grisly rhetoric that has been and continues to be spewed, why this process is encouraged, in the name of humanity, fairness, and justice---or even profound concern for Israel!---is another question entirely.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 17, 2005 10:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

what are you insinuating barry? that us dumb, hapless 'peace processers' secretely wish the destruction of Israel or such? what bunk!

Posted by: greg at November 20, 2005 12:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Heavens forfend!

Are you trying to insinuate that Neville Chamberlain secretly pined for the destruction first of Czechoslovakia and then of Europe?

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 20, 2005 08:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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