Palestinians shooting themselves in foot


Miller/By Connie Reider

By GARY BAUMGARTEN

The Palestinian push for a UN recognized state by fall is folly and won’t result in the creation of a Palestinian state.

So argues Aaron David Miller in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post.

“In almost two decades of working on Arab-Israeli negotiations as a State Department adviser and negotiator, I’ve come up with more than my fair share of dumb ideas.” Miller writes. “But the notion Palestinians are cooking up, for UN action on Palestinian statehood this fall, takes dumb to a new level.”

Pretty strong words, especially coming from an adviser to six secretaries of state.

“Yet another resolution won’t deliver Palestinians a state or even bring them closer to one,” Miller writes. In fact, he argues, a resolution would be counterproductive. Because, he predicts, the U.S. would be compelled to oppose a non-negotiated resolution over disputed lands. And Congress, he says, would pull back financial aid to the Palestinians.

The question as the Palestinian request is being seriously debated is whether the peace process, which would require agreement of all parties should be abandoned.

Israel has long sought a partner in peace. But the Palestinian leaders keep finding excuses to not reach an agreement. Or they’ve set preconditions to even negotiating.

Then they say, hey, it’s obvious we can’t come to an agreement. So we’ll ask the UN to impose the creation of a state and set boundaries.

It is, as Miller argues, a strategy that may serve to put Israel in a bad light with some, but won’t result in an end to the conflict, agreement on boundries or creation of a Palestinian state that’s even recognized.

All of which must be obvious to the Palestinian leadership. Leaving one to question, what is it that the Palestinian Authority really wants.

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The second Arab revolution

By By mar is sea Y/Flickr

As Bob Dylan sang, he times, they are a-changing, and no place more than in the Middle East.

Michael Scott Doran writes in Foreign Affairs Magazine that, suddenly, the people are part of the equation in the Arab world.

“In Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Iran and Libya, protesters are demanding either comprehensive reform or total revolution,” he writes. “Only once before in modern history has a populist wave of this magnitude swept the region.”

That was when, a half-a-century ago, a series of Arab nationalist movements challenged the rulers of the Arab world. The catalyst for that, Doran says, was then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal in 1956. Attempts by Israel and European powers to toppled Nasser failed sparking, Dolan says, a pan-Arab revolution that placed imperialistic regimes on notice that their time in power was short.

Dolan compares that to the ouster of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali from Tunisia, which has sparked challenges to regimes in other nations in the region.

“Today’s turmoil,” he argues, “then, is not unique; rather, it represents the second Arab revolution.

U.S. to help Middle East countries recover

White House photo

The U.S. treasury secretary says the United States is prepared to help the newly forming governments in Egypt and Tunisia recover financially.

“We are witnessing fundamental changes in the Middle East and North Africa that provide a historic opportunity to expand the circle of democratic societies,” said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “Alongside our partners in the Middle East and Europe, the United States stands ready to support the transitions in Egypt and Tunisia through a renewed multilateralism.”

Geithner says the World Bank and other multilateral development banks will be essential, just as they were in support of Eastern and Central Europe’s transition two decades ago.

“In 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and as Central and Eastern European countries left communism behind, the world turned to the MDBs to assist with these transitions<” Geithner said. “Financial and technical assistance from the MDBs helped roughly two dozen countries in Central and Eastern Europe transition from command economies to markets built on the strength of innovative entrepreneurs and active communities.” Geithner said that over the last two decades, Egypt and Tunisia have moved towards market economies and privatization. “Today,” he said, “the change that is underway in the Middle East calls for re-thinking and re-orienting the international community’s engagement. These transitions are ultimately about people: unleashing their opportunities and expanding their freedoms. We can unlock sustained and shared growth by tapping the potential of a young generation, expanding the private sector and creating accountable institutions,” he said.

U.S. funding Syria opposition

All this talk about Iran’s fingers trying to get into the turmoil pie in Bahrain and elsewhere comes into a bit of perspective, today, with a new WikiLeaks report which says that the opposition that’s basically in the process of toppling the government in Syria is being funded by the United States.

The Washington Post reports that the WikiLeaks documents show that the U.S. State Department has been funding support for the opposition, including financially backing a London-based satellite TV station that’s been beaming anti-government messages into Syria.

Al Jazeera is reporting that, as the unrest in Syria is spreading across the nation, President Bashar al-Assad is loosening emergency restrictions that had been in place.