The fatal glitch with 'land for peace'
George Jonas, National Post
Published: Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Listen up, world. America and Israel have their marching orders from Jordan.
King Abdullah told the media last week that Barack Obama has a peace plan for the Middle East that he'll put on the table when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to visit later in May. At least, the U. S. President had better do so, King Abdullah warned, and the Israeli Prime Minister had better go along with it --or else.
"If there is procrastination by Israel on the two-state solution," Jordan's anointed told The Times of London, "or there is no clear American vision for how this is going to play out in 2009, then all the tremendous credibility that Obama has worldwide and in this region will evaporate overnight if nothing comes out in May."
Well, yes, the rate of evaporation is high in the Middle East. Under Levantine skies "tremendous credibility" can "evaporate overnight." No wonder the good Lord could part the Red Sea on the first try.
What's the deal? Is Mr. Obama using Jordan's ruler to float a trial balloon before Mr. Netanyahu arrives in Washington, or is the ingenious King using the Rose Garden from which to launch his own trial balloon? No one's sure, but the smart money says it's wily Mr. Obama dipping his toes in the water.
"Come on in, the water is lovely!"
But is it? The peace plan, as outlined by King Abdullah, would entail the gradual recognition of Israel by 57 Arab and/or Muslim countries, in return for Israel's gradual withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. It sounds reasonable, except for three things.
One, 57 Arab/Muslim countries are 56 too many. They aren't likely to agree with each other on the time of day, let alone the recognition of Israel. Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad going to recognize Israel? And if only one nuclear ayatollah doesn't, what does it matter who does?
Two, His Majesty's description of the peace-for-land computer game even in this Microbama update sounds suspiciously like the software of Bush Senior's "Madrid" or Bill Clinton's "Oslo" or the hapless Dubya's "Road Map." ("Road map to what," a wag asked at the time, "the scene of the accident?") The concept has been a historic failure, not because Israel wouldn't dole out land for peace -- it has, to all comers, sometimes unasked -- but because the Arab/Muslim side won't dole out peace for land.
Three, the Middle East conflict has zip all to do with Israel's 1967 borders. It has to do with Israel's 1948 borders. Had Israel's Arab/Muslim neighbours accepted Israel's 1948 borders, there would be no 1967 borders to dispute today.
The devil may be in the details in the Middle East as much as anywhere else, except no one gets that far because Beelzebub intercepts negotiators in the fundamentals. Long before some Norwegian idealist's starry-eyed peace plan runs aground on whether El Al may enter Arab airspace on a scheduled flight, negotiators have to deal with the law of return or the status of Jerusalem. Odds, anyone?
To think that peace in the Middle East is ripe for the plucking requires a kind of naivete one cannot readily associate with anyone savvy enough to get himself elected to the presidency of the United States. It's certainly difficult to associate it with Obama. And if someone who isn't naive proposes something that only a naive person would propose, chances are that he is -- well, what kind of a person is he?
Do I see someone raise his hand? Yes, sir, you in the blue shirt. Why, a cynical person, that's right. Thank you.
It takes a cynical person to adopt a naive person's proposal, take credit for the goodwill, then blame the inevitable failure on the side he wishes to betray or abandon. Which, I suggest, is precisely what Obama is planning to do.
The irony of King Abdullah lecturing Israel on a two-state solution isn't lost on anyone who remembers that the Hashemite Kingdom occupies about 80% of the former Palestinian Mandate. If the 1917 Balfour Declaration -- "His Majesty's government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" -- resulted within six years in a homeland for a nation inside the territory of the British Mandate, it was neither Jews nor Palestinians but the princely Hashemite refugees from Saudi Arabia and their Bedouin and Circassian subjects. The Emirate of Transjordan came into being in 1923. Man proposes, God disposes, I suppose -- but that's a topic for another day.
Is there no chance for peace in the Middle East? Of course there is. Peace may come because a charismatic imam with trans-rational powers of persuasion convinces the Arab/Muslim "street" that peace is God's will. Or peace may come because a cosmic threat, planetary collision, epidemic or extraterrestrial invasion unites Earthlings. Or because of total exhaustion following devastating, possibly nuclear, wars.
Peace won't come from Microbama's release of Oslo 3.1. The software "land for peace" has a fatal glitch. It may produce land for Palestinians; it produces no peace for Israelis.
Trackposted to Leaning Straight Up, Allie is Wired, Woman Honor Thyself, and The World According to Carl, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Posted by No Apology at 7:46 PM