08 May 2007 - The new Bush plan
Some good news from blogland: my blog has made the finals of the Third Annual 2007 Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards in both of the categories in was nominated—Best New Blog and Best Left Wing Blog! Thank you to all who voted for Guide to the Perplexed. Now it’s time to vote once again—this time, for the prize. Voting opens May 9 and ends May 16. Click the image below or follow this link to the site!
No sooner had I written about Galia Golan’s summary of Israeli-Palestinian peace plans last week than a new one appeared: the “Acceleration Benchmarks for Agreement on Movement and Access as well as on the Gaza Security Situation.” It is a highly technical plan, and is being pushed by the U.S. with the goal of easing travel restrictions for Palestinians and improving security in the territories.
The plan has not been well-received. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel could accept elements of the plan and had already complied with parts of it, but would find other parts hard to implement. The Palestinian Authority welcomed it but Hamas and other violent extremists rejected it outright, and exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal used it as an occasion to call for continued attacks on Israelis.
Like many American interventions in recent years, this one is both narrow and naïve. It is focused on achieving security goals that only Israel has the ability to implement, and that the Palestinians do not have the will to achieve in any case. And it is being presented to two weak and divided governments—one facing the possibility of collapse and new elections, the other facing the prospect of civil war. (Indeed, Condoleezza Rice had to cancel her trip to Israel next week due to the political uncertainty surrounding the Israeli government at the moment.)
This plan, in other words, is not going to get the Israeli-Palestinian peace process out of its present “saddle point.” Something more ambitious is needed, a plan that includes a political dimension as well as a security component and that does not have to be imposed on both sides. One wonders what the Bush administration is up to. The State Department has a new “Middle East Digest,” but few answers so far.