Tuesday, November 15, 2005
U.S. Demands More Israeli Concessions... Again
No, I'm not aware of that headline appearing anywhere today. But in my opinion, it should be.
The event: under mounting pressure from the United States and the EU, Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to re-open border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel, as well as others between Gaza and Egypt. The Rafah crossing from Egypt will be monitored by Egyptians (who have been turning a blind eye to Palestinian weapons smuggling for years), Europeans (who have been funding those weapons), and Palestinians (who have been firing those weapons). Israel will be able to observe by closed-circuit TV, and will be permitted to lodge complaints, but will not have a veto over who, or what, crosses from Egypt.
In short, Israel has given up the chokehold she had over Palestinian heavy-weapons smuggling, in return for... well, nothing, really. The Palestinians have not made any concessions at all, as near as I can tell, other than the same promise to "do their best" to rein in terror against Israel, just as they've promised hundreds of times before.
Here's what ABC has to say:
My heart bleeds for you, Condi.
Israel, Palestinians OK Gaza Border Deal
With a Diplomatic Shove From Rice, Israelis and Palestinians Reach Deal on Gaza Border Crossings
JERUSALEM Nov 15, 2005 — Israel and the Palestinians agreed Tuesday on a detailed arrangement for opening the borders of the Gaza Strip and allowing freer movement for Palestinians elsewhere, a significant step toward an eventual peace deal between historic enemies.
It took all-night negotiations and a strong diplomatic shove from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to get a deal whose basic elements had been in the works for weeks...
She said she only got about two hours of sleep.
ABC paints this as a positive step... but the article, significantly, does not quote any Israeli officials.
But The Jerusalem Post does:
"The result is easy to see," [Likud Knesset member Binyamin] Netanyahu claimed. "There will be plenty of weapons finding their way to Gaza. Kassam rockets and mortars will be transported through Judea and Samaria to be launched at Israel."The Jerusalem Post also includes this amazing quote:
MK Yuval Steinitz said at the meeting: "Israel was pressured into opening up the crossings before we were ready; we gave in to pressure from the Americans."
With the pressure from Rice weighing on them, the PA expressed wonder that Israel continued to balk at an agreement.Well, the Palestinians had no trouble agreeing, did they? -- the agreement is entirely in their favor, giving them many valuable things while asking nothing of them.
"We now have the Europeans to monitor the border to make sure there is no smuggling or entrance of suspicious people, and still they do not agree," Erekat said.
And let's not forget -- Israel has no particular reason to trust the Europeans, nor the UN, when it comes to Israeli security. Israelis still remember vividly when an "international peacekeeping force" was posted between Israel and Egypt between 1956 and 1967, very near the area under question today, with the sole purpose of keeping Israeli and Egyptian forces apart. Yet in May 1967, when Egyptian President Nasser ordered the UN troops to leave -- or be trampled under an Egyptian invasion of Israel -- UN Secretary General U Thant pulled the "peacekeepers" out with nary a whimper.
Israel has caved in to the United States once again. This does not speak well for either of them.
UPDATE: There is a strong desire by the press, by the U.S. State Department, and of course by the Palestinians, to portray the Palestinian Authority as a local government, run by reasonable people, in control of its people and its destiny.
None of the above is true... and many of Israel's troubles with the Palestinians come from Israel being required, by others, to pretend that it's true. And when the pretense runs head-on into hard reality, it is Israelis -- ordinary Israelis in pizza parlors and felafel stands -- who pay the price with their lives.
I've written before about how unready the Palestinians are to assume a place in the community of nations. If you'd like more recent evidence of this, take a look at what passes for labor disputes in the Palestinian Authority. Or read how Abbas openly brags about his unwillingness to disarm Hamas terrorists; presumably he's happy to have multiple guerilla armies that he doesn't control running around.
(That link is from Reuters, by the way. It's as slanted as we've come to expect from them, but some pertinent facts slip through anyway. Reuters has long been known to use Palestinian stringers as sources, writing horribly biased reporting on-site and publishing it virtually unedited; judging from the byline on this Reuters report, that policy has not changed.)
UPDATE II: Cox & Forkum have some fun with Condi's football comment ("as a football fan, sometimes the last yard is the hardest"), which I didn't quote above: