<em>Guest Blog by Daniel Levy:</em> President Bush Offers Another False Promise to Israel & Palestine

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daniel levy 140.jpgDaniel Levy is Senior Fellow in the New America Foundation’s American Strategy Program and Director of the Middle East Peace Initiative there. He is also Senior Fellow at the Century Foundation.
President Bush in his Palestinian announcement today pushed down softly on the accelerator of a failed Middle East policy.
The President continued to base his policy on deepening the division among Palestinians, on pre-conditions to a two-state solution, and on an unwillingness to outline his own parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian endgame deal. Even the $190 million dollars of money pledged to the new PA government is mostly a repackaging of old commitments.
In most respects today was a rehash of his speech five years ago, albeit under less propitious circumstances. That speech encouraged a regime change that eventually (and one imagines inadvertently) brought Hamas to power — the new speech may well drive Palestinian politics towards a period of even greater chaos that could create a space for al-Qaeda look-a-likes to gain a foothold.
The President continued to mistakenly conflate Hamas with al-Qaeda and the Taliban and, in so doing, almost guarantees the failure of his approach. In Iraq American policy is belatedly focusing on internal political reconciliation, but in Palestine it is still, sadly, all about deepening divisions.
The two-state solution that the President claims to support will need to deliver basic security and have legitimacy on both sides in order to have a chance of being sustainable. That cannot be based on an irreconcilable Palestinian political division. Clearly, there is a discomfort level within the administration regarding this approach as witnessed by the leak from intelligence sources in today’s Washington Post, claiming that relying on Abbas-Fayyad cannot work. The leak came from people, who presumably cautioned against giving this speech.
The President managed to list a full seven Hamas “must do” pre-conditions, rather than the traditional three. Dividing the region into extremists and moderates may sound nice, neat, and tidy in a speech, but on the ground there is a huge grey area that the President apparently refuses to acknowledge. As with elsewhere in the region, this detachment from Palestinian reality makes for bad choices and destabilizing actions.
The one possibly new announcement of a meeting in the Fall to be convened by Secretary Rice actually sounds like little more than a repeat of the London conference on Palestinian reform of January 2003. US officials have admitted that so far none of the neighboring countries have signed up for the conference. Indeed, in his speech, the President outlined four pre-conditions for attendance. One of those — that participants recognize “Israel’s right to exist” will very likely be dropped, or at least massaged, given that not even Egypt and Jordan with their peace treaties with Israel ever accepted this formulation, let alone the Saudis or other Arab States.
The President’s ask from the Israeli side is minimal, consisting of realizing previous commitments, including those made on outposts and settlements from a 2004 letter that the US failed to follow up on.
Noteworthy was that even the Fatah-controlled Palestinian TV stations did not carry the speech live, suggesting that they hardly saw this as a great boost to their cause.
President Bush, contrary to the expectations of some optimists, chose not to use this speech to outline his own, more detailed, parameters for a peace deal. He dropped hints regarding the territorial issue, such as “mutually agreed adjustments,” but refused to explicitly refer to the 1967 lines or to offer any guidance on Jerusalem or refugees.
The administration’s commitment to reform and democracy ring even more hollow, given the recent measures taken by the new Ramallah government that they so favor. Military courts have been established in the West Bank to replace civilian courts, a progressive NGO law has been overturned, Hamas-affiliated persons have been imprisoned without due process, and the entire legality of the Ramallah government itself, is questionable.
The Arab states are called upon to make confidence building gestures towards Israel and this is likely to become a fruitless and unrealistic focus of upcoming diplomatic activity.
The President also appears to be flying solo again and eschewing multilateralism. For although he refers to working with the Quartet partners, his approach on dividing the Palestinians is not shared by most EU-states (see last week’s letter of all ten Mediterranean Foreign Ministers), the Russians, and it seems even the UN Secretary-General. Finally, in a hint that bodes ill for Iraq and Lebanon, too, the President makes no attempt to bring Syria into the peace process.
So, it’s more of the same with even less chance of success.
— Daniel Levy

Comments

14 comments on “<em>Guest Blog by Daniel Levy:</em> President Bush Offers Another False Promise to Israel & Palestine

  1. MP says:

    Posted by Llyonnoc at July 17, 2007 12:44 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    At last! Someone with a different perspective on Israel.
    Interesting that what you say here seems to conform with the much maligned “Clean Break” paper, at least in part.

    Reply

  2. Llyonnoc says:

    Israel is no safer now than it was in 1967 or 1975. Is it a wonder when it depends so much on America? Is it incapable of coming up with its own plan for its survival because it is so dependent upon America’s largess?
    It seems tragic that Israel with its flourishing democracy and brilliant people is now dependent upon the leadership of an empty suit like Bush. Weren’t the Oslo meetings done without US input? Why doesn’t Israel use its might and talent to come up with its own plan for survival and dealing with its neighbors and not depend upon the backing of the USA.
    One would think that after so many years hoping that the America would somehow ease its troubles it would realize that it has to do it itself. It did not depend on America in 1948; 60 years later it should finally wean itself from its reliance, rediscover its chutzpah, and find within its own intellectual and courageous people the way to make the Middle East into a land of peace and opportunity. It can do it if it tries. It will never do it if it hopes America will do it for it.

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  3. bakho says:

    Hamas V Fatah looks like divide and conquer to me. This strategy requires the presence of a conquerer.

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  4. Carroll says:

    Hummm …I am having this midsummer nightmare about the whole Israel related scheme going on right now. We know the dems are even more heavily contolled by AIPAC than the repubs are and I looked around at some at Govtrac and Thomas to see what amendents have been floated before this latest one by Lieberman.
    Here’s one example…as you can see it was defeated..anything that steps on the possibility of attacking Iran is defeated…not just by repubs, but by dems voting overwhelming also.
    H.AMDT.187 to H.R.1585 Amendment sought to add language to clarify that no previous authorization constitutes an authorization to use force against Iran; and make certain that no funds would be used to take military action against Iran in the absence of specific congressional authority or a direct attack. Sponsor: Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] (introduced 5/16/2007) Cosponsors (None)
    Latest Major Action: 5/16/2007 House amendment not agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the DeFazio amendment (A005) Failed by recorded vote: 136 – 288 (Roll no. 365).
    This, plus the removal of the Iran clause from the dems funding bill by AIPAC and the latest amendment by Lieberman that dems voted for makes me wonder if the dem plan is for Bush to attack Iran while he is in office. There is no way the dems don’t know where all these amendments, resolutions and bills regarding Iran are leading
    Actually it would probably make sense to them. They would satisfying their AIPAC handlers, plus Bush could be blamed for getting us into that war too…the only thing I don’t get is how they think they are going to cover their tracks on this one too….unless of course they think they can spin their way out of it because we are all so dumb with their usual we didn’t vote for what we voted for routine.
    I will be happy to declare this a official nightmare and nothing more if someone can show me where this trail of passed and failed amendments
    leads to anything but an opening to take actions against Iran.

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  5. Carroll says:

    Same old, same old.
    This, said by jonst ..says it all…”but it has been so hideously counter productive as to defy rational explanation.”
    If there is any logical, rational, moral, or stragetic reason why we have let Israel continue their occupation of Palestine and why we have let this conflict, the one conflict in the world we could stop without firing a shot go on I would love to hear it.
    BURN WASHINGTON TO THE GROUND AND START OVER.

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://tinyurl.com/ybx5bk
    Pelosi, AIPAC and Google [ Post 295047621 ]
    Category: News & Opinion (General) Topic: Politics & Elections
    Synopsis: Time to pull your craniums from your posteriors.
    Source: Various
    Published: November 12, 2006 Author: BG
    For Education and Discussion Only. Not for Commercial Use.
    As of 11/12/06, a search of AIPAC’s website for mention of Nancy Pelosi yields about 20+ results. Oddly, none of these pages are available anymore. AIPAC’s website gives a “Oops! We’re sorry, but we are unable to find the page you were looking for.” Grab the Google caches of these pages while you can. They’re soon to be gone.
    One page in particular is of interest, but even a search on its title, “Save the Date for Policy Conference 2003” yields nothing anymore. It’s still in cache as a direct link, however.
    What makes it interesting is the lineup of speakers. Two House party leaders, Pelosi and DeLay, A Bush minion, three Israeli prime ministers, the Zionist head of the Red Cross (Healy) and a nice bipartisan collection of Senators. The place that the Republican and Democratic leaderships converge, without rancor or division, is Zionism.
    And this page has disappeared from http://www.aipac.org since the election. It’s also disappeared from active searching of Google’s database. For those that think that some members of the Tribe in America don’t work together to stifle information and dissent, please pull your craniums from your posteriors.

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  7. Jim says:

    Mr. Levy,
    Our megalomaniacal, ultra-Christianist President is trying to push the world into the prophesies of Revelations with his policies in the Middle East. There is no rational thinking on his part. He want to bring on the Apocalypse. He is not a friend of Israel so don’t expect a sane approach to resolving the Palestine/Israel conflict.
    Jim

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  8. ... says:

    another way to look at it is to ‘follow the arms dealers’.. that is who have always supported war and the silent encouragement of war.. usa is one of the biggest arms dealers, so while it is nice to walk the walk, and talk the talk, bush, his pappy with his stake in carlyle group and his grandpappy who supported the nazis until he couldn’t anymore is probably the least truthful president the american public could vote for.. and they did it twice in a row too, which is quite impressive, but then the war in iraq was all the rage and everyone had to support the troops and blah blah blah… what a pathetic leader the usa has.

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  9. ... says:

    >>”We will continue to deliver a firm message to Hamas. You must stop being a safe heaven for attacks against Israel. You must accept the legitimate Palestinian state. And you must reject violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist and commit to previous agreements between the parties,” Bush said.<<
    if bush said the same when israel was leaving their cluster bombs in lebannon some of us would view him differently.. the usa stood by silently.. actions speak louder then words and bush in particular is a good one to follow his actions rather then his words..

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  10. jonst says:

    I’m not a big believer in what I call the tail wagging the dog theory. i.e. Likudniks in Israel dictating American Foreign/National Security Policy. For whatever reason the neocons, and their establishment backers (the latter now singing a sadder but–relatively–wiser song)wanted the past 6 years. And they got what they wanted. Why, I don’t know. I have my hunches…but it has been so hideously counter productive as to defy rational explanation. IMHO anyway. And for the record…the “reasonable middle” Steve expounds upon, for the most part, stood by and cheered. Only not as loud as others. But cheer they did. And do, to a great extent still. And so THEY got what they deserved, if not what they wanted. And the same is true for the majority of the American people post 9/11. We got what we deserved…if not what we expected. And the ‘getting’ has just begun. Sadly.

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  11. jon says:

    Indeed.
    Bush is not an honest broker. Rice’s diplomacy is far less deft them Powell’s. The US will have to deliver something tangible to earn palestinian’s trust.
    The US stood by (if not actively assisting) as Arafat was isolated and driven to his death. The US called for elections. Hamas won the elections and was immediately set upon No effort was spared to undermine their government and inflict still greater pain. Now Fatah has nominal control of a rump government in the West Bank and it is being annointed as legitimate and being provided with arms and cash.
    The Israeli policy of dividing the land and humiliating the population will need to change before any real peace can arise. They aren’t negotiations if only one side is offering anything.

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  12. ... says:

    >>Israel ‘satisfied with speech’
    Following the speech, a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office expressed satisfaction over Bush’s words.
    The speech “charted out a route and definitely meets our expectations,” noted the official.<<
    follow the money.

    Reply

  13. Jessica says:

    I completely agree. President Bush’s promises amount to nothing more than an endorsement of a friendly government accompanied by a commitment to further the divisions between the Palestinians themselves. If the Bush administration hopes to better the chances of forming a Palestinian state, it needs to work to further Palestinian solidarity. Just as when the Palestinians and Israelis separate themselves from one another solutions seem impossible, so will solutions be impossible without solidarity among Palestinians.
    On a related note, we face common problems and must work together as a world community to fight them. The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, which call for cutting world hunger in half by 2015 and eliminating it altogether by 2025, are a good place to start thinking and acting with a global mindset. It is estimated that the expenditure of a mere $19 billion would eliminate starvation and malnutrition worldwide. In a time when the United States’ current defense budget is $522 billion, the goal of eradicating world hunger is clearly well within reach if we act together as one world.

    Reply

  14. Jessica says:

    I completely agree. President Bush’s promises amount to nothing more than an endorsement of a friendly government accompanied by a commitment to further the divisions between the Palestinians themselves. If the Bush administration hopes to better the chances of forming a Palestinian state, it needs to work to further Palestinian solidarity. Just as when the Palestinians and Israelis separate themselves from one another solutions seem impossible, so will solutions be impossible without solidarity among Palestinians.
    On a related note, we face common problems and must work together as a world community to fight them. The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, which call for cutting world hunger in half by 2015 and eliminating it altogether by 2025, are a good place to start thinking and acting with a global mindset. It is estimated that the expenditure of a mere $19 billion would eliminate starvation and malnutrition worldwide. In a time when the United States’ current defense budget is $522 billion, the goal of eradicating world hunger is clearly well within reach if we act together as one world.

    Reply

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