Friday, January 23, 2009

Mitchell: A Miffed Maneuver of US 'Aggression'?

President B.H. Obama has announced that

George Mitchell, the former US senator from Maine who helped negotiate peace in Northern Island, will try to do the same between Israelis and Palestinians...Obama called on the Palestinian militant group Hamas to end its rocket attacks but declared that Israel must reopen its border with Gaza - an underlying factor in the recent flare-up in violence...

and, ominously, he added more, on his first visit to the State Department:

"It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians,"

The face of "US aggression":

Funny, over at the White House site, can't find anything on this appointment or even a Press Release tab.

But found this:

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Obama and Biden will make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key diplomatic priority from day one. They will make a sustained push -- working with Israelis and Palestinians -- to achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state in Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security.

Which sounds better: 'sustained push' or 'aggressively seek'?

Shmuel Rosner kicks in (or is that kicks Mitchell?) over at TNR - excerpts:-

George Mitchell's contribution to the peace process dictionary of lost causes is the link between "end of violence" and "settlements."...rereading his report to President Bush from eight years ago is like reading an old, outdated newspaper clip...Can Mitchell forget his 2001 report and start fresh? Can he overcome the human tendency to rehash one's previous conclusions without paying attention to change of circumstances?

...His report was adopted, but not wholeheartedly adapted, by both parties. It had something for everyone: The Palestinians got their demand (rejected by Israel) for a freeze of settlements, while Israelis got their unequivocal demand for "ending the violence" launched by Palestinians in 2000...Mitchell wrote that "a cessation of Palestinian-Israeli violence will be particularly hard to sustain unless [Israel] freezes all settlement construction activity," the first phase of the road map required that "Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence."...When Mitchell comes to the region, he is going to hear contradicting stories, exactly the way he did in 2000: The Palestinians will still focus on settlement activities, while Israel will argue that violence is still a threat. Palestinians will try to convince him that the West Bank and Gaza should be handled separately, while Israel will try to argue that you can't fix one area without fixing the other.

But while most people will focus on Mitchell's supposed position regarding settlements (and the possibility that such position will make it hard for him not to pick a fight with the most probable next Israeli prime minister, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu), the Mitchell Report finding that seems much more problematic today is the conclusion that Palestinian violence was not planned by the Palestinian leadership (namely, Yasser Arafat). The report says that "we were provided with no persuasive evidence that the [Ariel] Sharon visit [to Temple Mount in 2000] was anything other than an internal political act; neither were we provided with persuasive evidence that the PA planned the uprising." This was, arguably, the most devastating rebuke of Israel's claims--what most Israelis believe today, and what the Bush administration eventually came to believe --that Arafat wanted, initiated, planned, and executed this terror campaign...

...As long as those forces working to destabilize the Middle East--Hezbollah, Hamas, and their enablers--control the pace of events and inspire the Arab masses, it is very hard to envision a "road map" that will take this track to its final destination...

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