Palin Parachutes Into Palestine – Biden Bides His Time
By: Guest Authors
By David Singer
The Vice Presidential debate between Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden was as memorable for the statements made by both of them on the future progress of President Bush’s Roadmap as was the absence of any comment at all on the same issue by either Barack Obama or John McCain in their first Presidential debate the previous week.
Gov. Palin parachuted headfirst into very rocky terrain when endorsing President Bush’s proposal that would see a new Arab state created between Israel and Jordan – declaring unequivocally:
“A two-state solution is the solution,”
Further endorsing President Bush’s stance of actively engaging with the disputants Gov. Palin asserted:
“And Secretary Rice, having recently met with leaders on one side or the other there also, still in these waning days of the Bush administration, trying to forge that peace. And that needs to be done, and that will be top-of-an-agenda item also under a McCain-Palin administration.”
What Gov. Palin seems to have ignored is the fact that Secretary Rice has been trying to forge that peace for the last six years – yet has not even managed to see it get to first base. American power and influence has once again been exposed as a toothless tiger when it comes to resolving the issue of Palestine.
The timetables meticulously laid out in President Bush’s original 2003 proposal have not been met. Frantic efforts by Secretary Rice to advance the negotiations since the conference held in Annapolis almost a year ago – supposedly aimed at reaching an agreement before President Bush vacates the Presidency next January – have gone nowhere.
The negotiations have stalled on the two following fundamental demands made by the Palestinian Authority that Israel cannot possibly accept and on which the Palestinian Authority refuses to budge:
1. That Israel cede 100% of the West Bank – which would involve 500000 Jews being removed from their current homes and places of business. The Palestinian Authority has reportedly rejected an Israeli offer of a land swap that would allow about 430000 of them to stay.
2. That Israel accept the return of millions of Arab refugees – which would signal the end of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.
Gov. Palin – no doubt – was anxious to avoid acknowledging what has been one of President Bush’s worst policy failures – pursuing his personal vision to establish a second Arab State in Palestine in addition to Jordan which occupies 77% of the territory comprised in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.
However Gov. Palin’s claim that it would be a “top-of-an-agenda-item under a McCain- Palin administration” indicates that they will continue to actively pursue this failed policy when it has no chance at all of ever being implemented unless the Palestinian Authority relents on the above demands. Since both these demands have been consistently pressed for the last 40 years by the Arab world without change or modification it is difficult to see how President Bush’s two-state solution can ever be achieved.
15 years spent by Israel in unsuccessfully trying to achieve just this very objective with the Palestinian Authority since 1993 only reinforces this conclusion.
How much longer then will John McCain invest his – and America’s – time, prestige and effort in pursuing President Bush’s failed policy? Hopefully he will let the voters know in the next scheduled Presidential debate. The question needs to be asked and answered.
The argument that he must keep on trying is pointless. This only perpetuates the killing and traumatisation of both Arabs and Jews without any prospect of ever ending or even defusing the conflict.
Senator Biden was far more circumspect in refusing to endorse the Roadmap in the strident terms adopted by Gov. Palin – stating that an Obama administration would employ:
“thoughtful, real, live diplomacy that understand that you must back Israel in letting them negotiate, support their negotiation and stand with them, not insist on policies like this administration has.”
Significantly these comments indicate that :
1. Israel would be left alone to continue negotiating on the Roadmap within a time frame of its choosing and not one imposed on it by anyone else
2. Israel’s stand would be supported in any decisions it made in the course of those negotiations – thereby effectively endorsing President Bush’s rejection of the above two demands by the Palestinian Authority in a letter to Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004.
3. Obama would stand with Israel on any other decisions made by it with regard to those negotiations – including their termination due to intractable differences incapable of resolution.
There is no doubt these negotiations will inevitably end in impasse. The sooner they are terminated and a new direction adopted, the sooner some real and tangible progress will be possible.
It certainly would be embarrassing for both John McCain and Barack Obama if either Israel or the Palestinian Authority was to announce the termination of the current negotiations during the last stages of this Presidential contest. Both contestants would then have to state their positions on the future direction of relations between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and their Arab neighbours – Jordan and Egypt.
At the moment Messrs. Mc Cain and Obama can both plead that this is a purely hypothetical question that is both irrelevant and unnecessary for them to answer. Their Vice Presidential running mates have served them well in the statements each made during their debate.
Forcing the issue now would certainly set the remaining Presidential debates – and the elections – well and truly alight. However given the nuances of the Middle East and the apparent agreement to negotiate at least until President Bush leaves office – any such precipitate action by either side is unlikely to occur.
Inevitably therefore the current game will continue to be played out until President Bush is replaced – when his vision can then be finally abandoned by either side walking off the field because of the atrocious conditions. America by then will have voted in a new President with no idea of what he would then do.
The operation of America’s democratic process is indeed a wondrous sight to behold.
David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International â€” an organization calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine.
Previous articles written by him can be found at http://www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com