Friday, May 11, 2007

About David Ignatius Oped "End Diplomatic Isolation"

Ignatius reveals his bias as soon as he touches upone the Arab-Israeli conflict, when he writes: "A second diplomatic path for Rice involves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the long-festering wound that has afflicted the Middle East for 40 years."

The Arab-Israeli conflict, which spawned the conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis, has of course been going on for nearly two decades longer than that. Ignatius falsely implies that the root of the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict" is the so-called occupation, rather then being rooted in the continuing refusal of the surrounding Arabs nations to live in peace.

Ignatius further misleads when he writes: "Indeed, in her effort to regain an honest-broker role, she has been willing to meet with Palestinian officials despite Israeli objections."

It was the Quartet, not Israel, that prepared the minimal conditions for dealing with the Palestinian Authority led by Hamas. It is the conditions America set which Rice is undermining.

Ignatius: "Rice took a small step this week by meeting with Salam Fayyad, the finance minister of the Palestinian 'unity government' that is dominated by the militant group Hamas. She appears hopeful that ways can be found to resume U.S. financial aid to the Palestinians through Fayyad, in his role as a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, despite a formal ban on assistance to the Hamas-led government."

Ignatius falsely implies that the United States ended financial aid to the Palestinian Arabs. American assistance has continued virtually unabated; it has just been funneled more directly to the people. Indeed, assistance to the Palestinian Arabs has actually increased substantially since they voted Hamas into power.

Ignatius: "Israel had argued strenuously against such contacts. But Rice decided she would meet with Palestinian ministers if their past statements accepted Israel's right to exist in peace. Meanwhile, Rice continues a dual-track diplomatic negotiation she describes with the somewhat nebulous phrase of 'the political horizon.' In practice, that has meant pushing Israelis and Palestinians to discuss details for administering the Palestinian state everyone says they want in principle."

There is no need to demonstrate a "political horizon;" the Palestinian Arabs have long known all they need to do in order to establish another independent state is to say yes to peace. It was the Palestinian Arabs who have spurned all opportunities for a "political horizon."

In pushing for negotiations now, Rice is undermining the "road map" the American government has repeatedly insisted was the only game in town. She is also encouraging the belief among Arab extremists that they can safely ignore any American conditions, even conditions as innocuous as those in the road map which essentially just call upon the Palestinian Arabs to adhere to some of their prior commitments, with the confidence that if they continue their intransigence the United States will just pressure Israel to make more concessions.

Ignatius: "A promising new Arab initiative is broadening this path out of the Israeli-Palestinian wilderness. With Rice's encouragement, Arab countries this week agreed to establish a working group to present details of Saudi King Abdullah's 2002 peace plan to the Israelis. So far, the group includes only Jordan and Egypt, two countries that already have diplomatic relations with Israel."

Ignatius distorts the thrust of the "working group;" rather than showing a willingness to meet with Israel, the Arab nations which continue to refuse to recognize Israel also refused to meet with Israel. They emphasized their one-sided "peace plan" was an ultimatum, not a basis for negotiation.

Ignatius: "But there's hope the group will expand if negotiations over the Palestinian 'horizon' gather momentum."

See the earlier remarks regarding a "political horizon." It is not the Palestinian Arabs who need assurance that there is hope for their future, since they are the ones who are blocking their own futures. The Arabs need to demonstrate the willingness to live together with Israel in peace, by sitting down with Israel and demonstrating a willingness to negotiate in good faith and to compromise. After fifty-nine years of bellicosity, intransigence and ultimatums, it is long past time for some good will gestures from the Arab side.

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