Off to Ramallah

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This trip to Israel and today to Palestine has been extremely eye-opening. Condoleezza Rice will be here on Monday — and there is antipathy to her trip at the highest levels of government.
I’ve been told that she comes with no plan, no ideas, no pressure to move in any direction whatsoever. According to a source very close to Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert, she doesn’t even ask questions about the basic positions on each side so as to understand the “gaps” and then to offer ideas — or even pressure on the Israelis and Palestinians — to close the gaps. Those engaged credibly in the peace process here want American engagement — and want the U.S. to play a role in defining “best options” among many competing visions of how this is going to work out.
I’ll have more to say later regarding some surprising perspectives I’ve encountered about Hamas. Yesterday, a Haaretz poll showed that 64% of Israelis favor direct talks with Hamas. This is tough to work out — since Israel and the U.S. have told Abbas that even he can’t bring Hamas into a unity government if he wants a peace deal with Israel (not that Abbas is eager to talk to Hamas, which he isn’t).
More soon — Off to Ramallah.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

18 comments on “Off to Ramallah

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    Steve, on background, the majority of Israel’s constituency favors engagement.
    There’s a client state lobby to see through and that gets in the way.

    Reply

  2. arthurdecco says:

    “Ehud Olmert and Condoleezza Rice agreed that stopping terrorist rocket fire from the Gaza Strip takes priority over relieving the Palestinian plight there.”
    Ehud Olmert and Condoleezza Rice are mentally ill.

    Reply

  3. Carroll says:

    Evidently she goes to sieg heil the zionazis and help Olmert make the ‘terrorist” (otherwise known as Palestine civilians) pay a “terrible price” cause they can’t outsmart Hamas.
    JTA
    Published: 02/28/2008
    Ehud Olmert and Condoleezza Rice agreed that stopping terrorist rocket fire from the Gaza Strip takes priority over relieving the Palestinian plight there.
    The Israeli prime minister and U.S. secretary of state held a breakfast meeting Thursday in Japan, where their paths crossed during separate official visits.
    Rice, who will travel to Israel and the West Bank next week to promote a U.S. initiative for helping the Palestinian economy, told Olmert she was concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza amid a surge in fighting this week.
    “I am concerned about the humanitarian conditions there and innocent people in the Gaza who are being hurt. We have to remember that the Hamas activities there are responsible for what has happened in Gaza,” Rice told reporters, referring to cross-rocket attacks by the Islamist group.
    “The issue is that the attacks — rocket attacks — need to stop,” she said.
    Responding to stepped-up attacks, Israeli forces killed 18 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank in several airstrikes Thursday.
    Olmert, who was to fly home later Thursday, indicated that Israel’s current priority is crushing the rocket threat rather than relieving Gaza’s civilian problems.
    “We are at the height of the fighting,” he said. “We will make the terrorists pay a very painful price.”

    Reply

  4. Diane says:

    If she goes to Israel/Palestine with no questions, no plan, no ideas, no pressure to move in any direction whatsoever, what does she actually do when she goes there? Seriously.

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  5. Joe M. says:

    Dear Mr. Clemons,
    Please be bold enough to meet with Hamas leaders while in occupied Palestine. I find it very disheartening that so many policy people advocate direct talks with groups such as Hamas, yet they themselves are to cowardly to do so. I don’t know whether you advocate talking to Hamas in general, but you would make an important contribution to peace to meet with them formally.
    Best of luck,
    Joe

    Reply

  6. Cee says:

    Carroll,
    If Birth Pangs Condi is saying it they arne’t listening
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3459144.ece

    Reply

  7. Johnny Swift says:

    um, I don’t think the parody/sarcasm could have been thicker

    Reply

  8. Linda says:

    Zathras,
    Your comments above about Condi could also apply to Obama, so I’m not sure if you mean what you wrote seriously or as wonderful sarcasm.
    I can assure you that those of us who want Obama to be the nominee and President will expect better performance from him than we got from Condi. I don’t have to imagine, and I see the results. Our foreign policy for the past seven years has transformed our image around the world from one of affection and respect to dislike and disdain.

    Reply

  9. ... says:

    zathras – the usa would be a better people if they cut with the bullshit and got real at the highest levels of power politically… the israel palestine issue is a total joke at present and everyone knows it.. usa looks like a complete ass, just as it does towards cuba.. the people want peace, but the leadership doesn’t..

    Reply

  10. Zathras says:

    Clearly, Steve Clemons does not appreciate the transformative power of Rice’s example, as a person of color, and a woman at that, representing the United States. Just imagine the impact on how people in other countries view us — imagine the hope, the optimism, the possibility. Imagine the imagination!
    OK, she was a terrible National Security Adviser, and hasn’t accomplished very much as Secretary of State. These are quibbles. We are better people because Ms. Rice can be Secretary of State, and our path to a future bright with hope will be paved with gestures that will show the world that we can make outselves better yet. We can do for the whole government what Ms. Rice has done for the State Department, and what a remarkable feeling that will be.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    BTW…..
    The tag line on every statement ever made by Isr is always…”Palestine must abide by all prior agreements”.
    Does anyone know exactly which “prior agreements” Isr is referring to?..or where to find the agreement they are referring to?
    I am sure Hamas finds a lot in those “prior agreements” they wouldn’t agree to.

    Reply

  12. Carroll says:

    Who do we believe? There have been a lot of news headlines about Condi pressuring Israel not to tear into Gaza again..it that just fluff?
    Of course US pressure on Isr amounts to saying pretty please so perhaps that is what the Olmert
    source means.
    “Oh please, Uncle Sugar Daddy stop us before we do it again”..yea right.

    Reply

  13. DonS says:

    Condi Rice, “fairly eloquent”? Only in the sense, as with turkeys, you’re suprised they can fly at all. She is far out of her depth, pragmatically and emotionally.

    Reply

  14. Linda says:

    Some of the issues raised on this topic are perhaps the most important ones to think about during this election, especially those raised about Condi Rice and related to the total refusal of this Administration to talk with “enemies.” She may be fairly eloquent, or at least good at answering or providing non-answers to press and in committee hearings. President Bush was so stubborn and inarticulate when asked about this in his press conference yesterday that it made the lead to the Daily Show. After that I listened to much of his total press conference on C-Span—not because I like listening to him or even because it was funny. It was fascinating to see how poorly informed and inarticulate he is.
    Chris Hill is leaving State and is a career diplomat, but where are the foreign policy achievements of this entire administration? I’d really like to hear your overall assessment of that. I think both Powell and Rice performed poorly in office, and neither of them have ever chosen to run for political office.
    I’m no foreign policy expert, but it seems to me that they not only have few accomplishments but have done a great deal of harm.

    Reply

  15. bob h says:

    They are really moving the USS Cole to Lebanon at a time when Hezbollah is itching to revenge the assassination in Damascus?

    Reply

  16. Sue says:

    Steve,
    Interview with Efraim Halevy about talking to Hamas & Hezbollah: http://www.motherjones.com/washington_dispatch/2008/02/israel-mossad-out-of-the-shadows.html
    On another note, it’s been a while since we’ve shut down Ft. Lauderdale airport – when are you coming back to visit us?

    Reply

  17. ... says:

    classic… 2 different gov’ts – usa and israel and both of them have a far right wacko agenda – war and more war, while a majority of their people seek resolution… i would say the leaders aren’t serving the majority, but instead a smaller minority that profit from war and strife…
    remember the mantra – ‘you can’t talk to terrorists’… just label others terrorists and refuse to communicate… it seems to work for these idiot leaders.. for the citizens to believe that bullshit is another thing though…

    Reply

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