Some clips for your amusement before thoughts on the Israeli elections
From the Ybor City International Rum and Cane Spirits festival, where we judges had to taste statistically different samples of over a 100 rums local TV clip
And for something completely different, a Weekend
The Road Map Has to Go Through the Wall.
The Israeli Elections offer a mixed message. There is a clear majority of Israelis prepared to accept withdrawal of settlements. However, Olmert is a peacemaker the same way
Somehow, he draws world applause for speaking of painful sacrifices, giving up "dear parts of the
Because of heavy demographic pressure, and mild diplomatic pressure, Olmert is in effect saying that we will hand back the pieces of stolen land that it is inconvenient to hold, but in return we will keep the best parts. For the Palestinians, it is the equivalent of someone squatting in a house and offering to let the owners live in the outhouse-under close supervision- if they give clear title to the main residence.
Even so, the election offers some hope. The application of pragmatism and realism about abandoning even some settlements has to be an improvement over an atavistic claim based a promise from a desert sky god to a mythical prophet. If there is no insuperable principle involved in giving up some settlements, then the road is open to pull out completely, in accordance with international law, back to the green line.
However, it is interesting to contrast the treatment of Ehud Olmert with that accorded to the new Palestinian government. For example, Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized before Hamas won the Palestinian elections, "It is the view of the Quartet that all members of a future Palestinian Government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of
Have you heard anyone recently demand that all members of the present, let alone any future Israeli government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of a completely independent
As far as I am aware, no members of the Likud government had declared unequivocal acceptance of a
It is possible that someone may have expressed regret for terrorist acts such as the assassinations of UN Envoy Count Folke Bernadotte, or the objectively pro-Nazi assassination of Lord Moyne during World War two, let alone for Deir Yasin. But if they did, it was not very loud or widely broadcast. (Ironically, since Moyne was the heir of the Guinness brewing empire, Hamas may even have approved of that one.)
In complete defiance of international law, let alone the Road Map, they have been busily changing the situation on the ground, expanding settlements at a breakneck speed and building the Wall in defiance of a ruling by the world's highest legal authority, the International Court of Justice. Olmert now confirms exactly the suspicions expressed by the ICJ, and wants this to be the future unilaterally decided border of
On a more contemporary note, the Israeli government continues incursions into the PA areas, with targeted killings and extensive collateral damage to ordinary civilians. Olmert proposes a pull out of civilian control, but leaving military control. In
If anyone would listen carefully, Hamas has been offering wiggle room. Both its theology and its populist politics in the refugee camps inhibit it from recognizing the 1948 boundaries as final, anymore than a theologically motivated Zionist would be prepared to abandon all claims, no matter how residual, to the whole of the Land of Israel. However Hamas is offering a long-term indefinite hudna, truce or ceasefire that in practical terms is close to recognition. The way to solidify that trend is not by refusing to talk to the new government, let alone by starving out the Palestinian electorate.
There is a firm basis of a settlement, which the Arab League has asked Hamas to subscribe to, and that is the Beirut declaration, which effectively enjoins both sides to accept the UN resolutions, the Green Line and mutual co-existence. By all means, pressure Hamas to accept it, but we have to be aware that the
Olmert wants a capitulation, but the good news from the Israeli election is that a clear majority of Israelis have voted for a solution that involves abandoning settlements. Labor's Amir Peretz would rather see the poor looked after in
If the rest of the Quartet applies some serious pressure to both governments, there is a serious prospect of removing the roadblock and the diversions that have been on the Road Map all this time.