Friday, April 4, 2008

Herbert Zweibon

In his second term, President Bush has shifted gears from engaging in the war on terror. Secretary of State Rice has formulated the new target: “There could be no greater legacy for America than to help to bring into being a Palestinian state for a people who have suffered too long…and who have so much to give to the international community and to all of us.” (As Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa Lappen point out, the Bush Administration’s search for partners to promote peace within the Palestinian Authority resembles Lord Charles Bowen’s “blind man in a dark room looking for a black hat which isn’t there.”)

While there was much publicity about what Edward Alexander calls the “Annapolis comic opera of 49 governments in late November,” there is less awareness of the sheer number of trips Rice has made to pressure Israel. In 2005, when she took office as Secretary of State, Rice made four trips to Israel (February, June, July and November); in 2006 two trips (July and October); in 2007 two trips (January, October); and in 2008 she has gone twice (February, March) and plans to return in April. President Bush went in January and is scheduled to return in May (determined to launch a Palestinian state by the end of the year, the administration is turning up the heat).

The damage Rice has already wrought to Israeli security in those trips is substantial. For example, in November 2005 she forced a reluctant Israeli government to give up its control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, substituting EU monitors. The monitors soon fled and the result, predictably, has been to open the Philadelphi road to massive movement of arms and terrorists into Gaza. Rice was the architect of the ceasefire with Hezbollah that enabled it to rearm and reassert its control over southern Lebanon. It was Rice who forced Israel to permit U.S. General Keith Dayton to train and arm Fatah forces in Gaza, in effect arming Hamas since Fatah subsequently surrendered its weapons to Hamas without a fight.

The administration also keeps up the pressure through on-the-ground interference by lesser fry. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones recently announced that Jews will simply have to leave Jerusalem rather than build new housing that might interfere with plans to make East Jerusalem the capital of the new Arab state. JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) has complained that three U.S. generals are now on an inappropriate political mission for the State Department: one trains the Palestinian army/police/praetorian guard; one “judges” Israeli and Palestinian Authority compliance with the Road Map; a third “coordinates security” between Israel and the PA. The generals are complaining that Israel is not sharing enough intelligence with the Palestinian Security Services (apparently even the Olmert government is not that suicidal); that it refuses to remove checkpoints (again a rational effort to protect Israeli citizens); and that IDF security operations are driving terrorists into PA-controlled areas, making it more difficult to maintain order (presumably the IDF should leave them unmolested to murder Israelis where they are).

Most recently Vice President Cheney has come to Israel. In a joint appearance with Prime Minister Olmert he announced “The United States will never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security” and then reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to a Palestinian state. How are we to interpret this obvious contradiction? Incoherence? Blindness? An attempt to mollify through rhetoric while the fatal blow is struck?

Is this to what the Bush doctrine has sunk? From the war on terror and the spread of democracy to the establishment of a terror state and the destruction of the only Middle East democracy?

Posted by Ruth at 04:04 PM OUTPOST provides online editions of OUTPOST the monthly publication of Americans for a Safe Israel, and links to related sites as well as recent columns, articles and commentary on the Middle East from the national and international media.

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