Robert Novak, who I believe is a pretty decent Christian and
occasionally allows his faith to modify his typically conservative bent,
has written well below. I particularly noted his characterization of
Cpl. Shalit last summer as "seized," rather than the near-universal
"kidnapped." (On the other hand: "...Lebanese /_incursion..._/"?? --
get real, Novak.)
Novak is of course right that Bush's lame-duck status (not to mention
his criminal/impeachable incompetence) precludes any possibility of
movement toward peace and justice in the Holy Land through 2008. He
might have added that a pattern is thus re-cut -- a pattern I've
observed and agonized through for at least 30 years -- where there is
ALWAYS an excuse to "miss an opportunity" by Israel or The Israel Lobby
in our America. It's ALWAYS, ALWAYS a US election, or an Israeli
election, or a Jewish holiday, or the convenience of 9-11-01, or an act
of resistance here or there, ad infinitum, which provides an excuse NOT
to face reality and the humanity which is the ever-suffering Palestinian
people. It's ALL a game, a charade, a sadistic closing of the loop
around the Palestinians' neck. When the loop finally closes and the
last breath is drawn by the last Palestinian on the ground, the
Palestinians will, of course, be blamed collectively and will be
condemned as having committed mass suicide via their barbaric intransigence.
Novak failed to note that the Saudi Peace Plan was initiated and issued
in Beirut in March 2002 -- 5 years ago. Bush-Sharon-Olmert fiddled, the
Finally, Novak (and everyone else) completely ignores the 10,000
Palestinian children, women and men who continue to rot away in Militant
Zionist Israel's prison system, among whom are 36 -- one-third or so
-- of the duly elected democratic representatives of the people of
Palestine, brazenly "arrested" in their homes or on the street and
incarcerated by the brutal, endlessly sadistic occupier.
What shall we do with this people?...Bob
*Subject:* An op-ed by Robert Novak in the Washington Post
April 5, 2007
*Subject: An op-ed by Robert Novak in the Washington Post*
*From: PLO Mission -- Washington, DC*
*Missed Opportunity for Peace*
*By Robert D. Novak*
*Thursday, April 5, 2007; A17*
*JERUSALEM -- An overriding melancholy here this Holy Week follows
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's mission to Jerusalem last week. To
Arabs and Jews seeking meaningful peace negotiations, it confirmed that
no progress toward a two-state solution is likely for the remainder of
George W. Bush's presidency.
in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a permanent peace treaty. The
word in the Olmert government is that the prime minister's reluctance
even to begin talks at this time is fully shared by Bush. Rice is
sincere in her desire for peace, but she can accomplish nothing
important without the full support of her chief.
The aphorism (originated by Israeli statesman Abba Eban) that Arabs
"never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" now can be applied to
Israel. Last week's Riyadh declaration indicated the willingness of the
Arab world to consider a peaceful solution. Now, belief here among
peace-seekers is that nothing will happen until a new president enters
the Oval Office in 2009.
That was the consensus Tuesday at a conference here on Middle East
policy in which I took part. Deal W. Hudson, executive director of the
Morley Institute in Washington, which held the conference, expressed
hope that Bush might yet grasp the reins of peace. But a diverse
assemblage of Palestinians (both Muslim and Christian), Israelis,
Americans and other foreigners held little hope for a Bush initiative in
the closing months of his administration.
The atmosphere has changed since I was here for Holy Week a year ago.
Israeli self-confidence was at a peak then, with the newly installed
Olmert openly avowing the unilateral solution to the Palestinian problem
developed by his predecessor, Ariel Sharon. Behind that posture was
confidence in military superiority. The unhappy results of the Lebanon
incursion have modified Israeli expectations and caused a different tone.
Olmert publicly indicates a willingness to talk, and the Haaretz
newspaper quoted him as saying the Arabs' Riyadh summit "is evidence of
But the moderates attending Tuesday's conference viewed this as
rhetoric. Olmert told Rice last week that any negotiations must be
preceded by the release of the Israeli soldier Hamas fighters seized
last June 25.
The broader conditions for talks are Olmert's refusal to include in
negotiations any discussion of a return of Arab refugees to greater
Palestine and a withdrawal of Israel to its 1967 borders. Negotiating
those points does not mean that they will be conceded. Indeed, in 2004
Bush assured Sharon of U.S. guarantees against a massive return of
Palestinian refugees or a rollback to unsafe borders. But setting
conditions for talks is a classic mechanism for escaping talks altogether.
Indeed, Olmert continues a boycott policy against the Palestinian
Authority because of Hamas's election victory and the selection of
Ismail Haniyeh as prime minister. The presence of Hamas in the
Palestinian government is cited as justification for absence from the
It surely is up to Bush. When Rice visited Israel about six weeks ago,
the Israeli government announced that Olmert had been on the phone with
Bush a day earlier and that they "see eye to eye." That ensured that the
three-way talks in Jerusalem between Rice, Olmert and Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would accomplish nothing substantial.
Haaretz political columnist and editorial writer Akiva Eldar, a speaker
at Tuesday's conference, wrote in Monday's newspaper: "As a rare and
historic opportunity appears on the horizon, a leadership of different
dimensions is needed." He was talking about Olmert, but he could have
been referring to Bush.
Nothing could be accomplished now without Bush pressuring Olmert. Bush's
original intentions to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace were sidetracked
by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and subsequent U.S. military operations.
The many American presidential candidates of both parties do not want to
take risks on this issue. A mere statement of sympathy for the
Palestinians by Sen. Barack Obama brought massive criticism. The
question is whether Eldar's "historic opportunity" will be gone when a
new American president takes office.