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Much To Do About Nothing…….

She came, she saw, she left. Regardless of how many times US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice plans to meet with Abbas and Olmert, — rumor has it at least from now on, once a month– the end result will be the same, no significant change in the stalemate between the two sides.

No doubt there will be voices clamoring for the US to pressure Israel into making some concessions in order to, ‘jump start the peace process’. When hasn’t there been a time that saw such demands being leveled at Israel, who is always being expected to ‘produce’ while the Arabs just stand pat?

The media is ripe with speculation over the latest flurry of ‘shuttle diplomacy’, reading into Sec-State Rice’s recent visit to Israel as an acceptance by the Bush Administration of the ISG’s (Jim Baker) recommendations, that calls for renewed interest in solving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. But in spite of the ISG’s illogical assumption that this conflict is the ‘lynch pin’ to solving all the ME’s problems,… little can be done.

Ehud Olmert reaffirmed yesterday before the Israeli Knesset that:

“The meeting was divided into two parts. First, US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abu Mazen and I met alone. Then we were joined by Foreign Minister Livni, Vice-Premier Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Senior PA officials – from Fatah, of course – joined on the Palestinian side.

We made it clear, as simply and as plainly as possible, it being completely evident that our demand, like that of the international community and the US, is that a Palestinian government that accepts the Quartet principles thereby recognizes all of the agreements that have been signed between the state of Israel and the PA, and will carry them out.

This does not mean recognition via some sort of empty statement, but carrying out all of these agreements, recognizing the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish state and, of course, an absolute halt to terrorism in all its expressions – Kassam fire and attempts to perpetrate other attacks. Moreover, it is clear that all other commitments – including that to release Gilad Shalit immediately – must be upheld.

Besides, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is in no position to negotiate anything, due to his political clout being severely weakened over his government’s handling of the recent war in Lebanon. Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, who has no hope in moderating the intransigent Hamas —who by the way has repeatedly tried to assassinate him — has as little political clout as the Israeli PM. I can only assume that Rice’s ‘renewed interest’ in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to be an attempt to placate the ‘moderates’ states in the ME, as the US slowly concentrates its sights on Iran.

This doesn’t mean a prelude to hostilities, but nonetheless a ‘hedging of bets’ as the US seeks wider international approval of newer sanctions ‘with teeth’ against the Iranian regime who is moving right along with its nuke enrichment schemes. I cannot imagine a return to ‘Clintonian ME politics’ by the present administration, that would see its own Secretary of State running after Palestinian leaders to sign a piece of paper as did Madeleine Albright with Yasser Arafat.

There is more at work here than trying to just ‘jump start’ the ‘peace process’, especially while one of the principle party’s (Hamas) refuses to recognize the other (Israel). This latest effort is dreadfully unrealistic as it is a waste of time. More here. *L* KGS

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