Sunday, May 4, 2008

There's a Disconnect Somewhere

It's rather mindboggling. One day, the Palestinian Authority accuses the United States of being biased against them; the next day, American Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice again makes unfair demands of Israel while ignoring the crux of the problem: the continuing Arab terrorism and refusal to negotiate in good faith.

A decade and a half after the start of the Oslo Experiment, the Palestiian Arabs remain in extreme violation of their only real obligation, the abandonment of terrorism, and have yet to retreat one iota from the extreme demands they were making at the start of The Experiment.

As long as they continue to get away with terrorism and intransigence, nothing will change; our appeasement only helps to perpetuate the situation.

PA official: Bush administration biased

Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, May. 3, 2008

In the wake of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's recent talks in Washington with US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice, it is "unrealistic" to expect a breakthrough in talks between the Palestinians and Israelis before the end of the year, a senior PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post Saturday.

[There certainly won't be a breakthrough as long as there are two Palestinian Authority governments both intransigent with one blatantly terrorist and the other continuing to encourage terrorism even as it sometimes says terrorism is not useful at this time.]

The official, speaking on the eve of Rice's meeting with Abbas, accused the Bush Administration of "bias" toward Israel.

[One would hope for a bias towards a democratic nation pursuing peace when it is faced with an intransigent enemy targeting civilians.

Unfortunately, when it comes to applying pressure, America seems to reserving almost all its pressure for Israel, giving the Palestinian Arabs a free pass.]

"The Americans have adopted the Israeli policy," he said. "When you hear Bush, you think you are listening to [Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert."

The official said the PA was no longer pinning any hope on the Bush Administration to help achieve an agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.

"The Bush Administration has lost it credibility as an honest broker," he charged. "We will now have to wait for the next US Administration."

The official confirmed that Abbas emerged from his talks with Bush and Rice "angry and depressed."

According to the official, Abbas was shocked to learn that the Bush Administration had no intention to put pressure on Israel with regards to settlement construction in the West Bank.

[This, of course, is contradicted by American words and action.]

"President Abbas felt as if he was talking to the wall," the official said.

[The Israelis have been talking to a wall since the start of the Oslo Experiment.]

"Both Bush and Rice refused to discuss details related to the current peace talks with Israel. We are very disappointed."

Sources close to Abbas said that he had not been in good health ever since he returned from Washington. Last week Abbas underwent catheterization procedure in the heart at a Jordanian hospital.

Nimer Hammad, political advisor to Abbas, said the US policy in the region has failed "because Washington was only encouraging the parties to negotiate without real intervention."

He said Abbas briefed Bush during his visit to Washington on the obstacles threatening the peace process, especially the continued construction in settlements. But, the advisor added, Bush did not want to go into details and asked to postpone the talks until Rice's visit to the region."

Hammas told the Palestinian Maan news agency that the PA was opposed to any map that permits settlements to remain in the West Bank. "Israel wants to annex 50%-60% of the West Bank by keeping settlement blocs," he said. "This means we will be offered less than 50% of the land. This is totally unacceptable. If Israel continues to build settlements, there will be nothing left to negotiate about."

[In that case, perhaps Abbas should start negotiating, rather than continuing to stonewall.]

Rice presses Israel on roadblocks

By Arshad Mohammed and Mohammed Assadi, Reuters, Sunday, May 4, 2008

[This article shows the total absurdity of the Palestinian Authority assertions in the other article.]

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday pressed Israel to ease travel restrictions on Palestinians and called Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank "particularly problematic."

But she said Washington believed an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal was still possible before President George W. Bush leaves office in January, praising the "seriousness and depth" of negotiations.

"We continue to believe it is an achievable goal to have an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis by the end of the year and by the end of President Bush's term," Rice said after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Negotiations on issues core to the Middle East conflict were launched at a U.S.-hosted international conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November. Abbas, at a news conference with Rice, voiced his commitment to peace efforts.

But Israeli-Palestinian talks have been clouded by violence, primarily along the border of the Gaza Strip, which is now controlled by Abbas's Islamist Hamas opponents, and by Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which Palestinians fear will deny them a viable state.

[There hasn't been any significant construction in Israeli communities in the disputed territories for years.]

At the news conference, Rice said the United States regarded settlements as "particularly problematic to the atmosphere of trust that is needed."

[If the Palestinian Arabs were actually interested in peace, the existence of a relative handful of Jews in the disputed territories wouldn't be an issue.

It's unfortunate that American leaders continue to pander to Arab intransigence and outright bigotry.]

A 2003 peace "road map" requires Israel halt construction in the settlements. Israel says it will keep major settlement blocs under any peace deal -- a plan tacitly endorsed by Bush in 2004 -- and recently approved new housing projects in the enclaves.

"I can assure you that Israel has no hidden agenda," Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters after later talks with Rice, in response to a question about the settlements.


Rice launched her latest two-day visit to the region on Saturday by saying she would assess Israel's steps on the ground to see if they had improved the daily lives of the Palestinians. These include the promised removal of West Bank roadblocks.

[Israel has removed some roadblocks. This will undoubtedly lead to additional Arab terror attacks, destroying Israeli lives and requiring the creation of new roadblocks.

There is really just one way to effectuate the permanent removal of roadblocks: an end to Arab terrorism.]

Rice said she had raised the question, with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, of whether those roadblocks that are to be scrapped would have a significant effect on easing movement by Palestinians.

"We are trying to look not just at quantity, but also at quality of improvements," said Rice, who also stressed that the Palestinians needed to take further action to meet the road map demand that anti-Israel militant groups be reined in.

After Rice's last trip in late March, Israel said it planned to remove 61 barriers in the West Bank. But a U.N. survey subsequently found that only 44 obstacles had been scrapped -- and that most of these were of little or no significance.

Western pressure is mounting on Olmert to do more to ease travel restrictions and take other steps to shore up Abbas, whose authority has been limited to the West Bank since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June.

Before her talks with Abbas, Rice met Barak in Jerusalem. He exerts great influence over Israel's network of checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank.

Palestinians view the barriers as collective punishment and a blight on their economy. Israel argues it needs to keep many travel restrictions in place to prevent suicide bombings.

Rice met Olmert on Saturday night in Jerusalem. Olmert, in broadcast remarks on Sunday, gave no details of the discussions other than to say they were "part of the (peace) effort, which we will not halt."

Abbas and Olmert are due to meet on Monday after Rice leaves.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Editing by Peter Millership.)

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