I think that Israel Prime Minister Olmert’s resistance to talk to the new Palestinian unity government ‘may’ be a charade disguising quite a bit of informal, off the books negotiations as everyone I speak to from the Middle East sees a deal on Palestine in the works — in about 18 months. We should all be skeptical, but Olmert is not being completely truthful in suggesting that he and Israel will not meet any part of the Palestinian government. Whether it is direct, or through proxies, all sides are beginning to deal with each other.
That said, Olmert and his foreign service have some other distractions, including the revelation that the Israeli Ambassador to El Salvador has been recalled after being “found drunk and naked.”
According to this BBC report, Ambassador Refael was found in the Israeli compound — “bound, gagged and naked apart from sado-masochistic sex accessories.” Apparently, he was only able to identify himself to police “after a rubber ball had been removed from his mouth.”
Stuff happens. But if the Palestinians want to speak with Israeli diplomats — even after revelations like this one — then I think that Olmert’s public high-handedness seems out of place.
On another front, Israel doesn’t seem to have much of a problem violating the Helms-Burton law forbidding American and other firms doing business in the U.S. from doing business with Cuba. Just to be clear, I oppose Helms-Burton and think that the embargo we have imposed harms American interests.
But still, one of America’s closest allies — Israel — has major Cuban citrus farms under management.
One wonders if Israel can do business with Cuba, which I support generally, why it can’t find creative ways to deal in public (rather than in secret) with the democratically-empowered political realities in Palestine.
— Steve Clemons