1) Why didn’t Abbas answer Olmert?
Last week Avi Issacharoff reported on a recent interview he had with Ehud Olmert in The Tower. Much of the story was known, but Olmert provided some new specifics about his offer to Abbas and Issacharoff obtained a map that Mahmoud Abbas had drawn to illustrate the offer. At the end of the article Issacharoff asked Olmert why Abbas never responded to his offer.
“I know all of their arguments,” said Olmert. “They say that Abu Mazen agreed with Bush that Erekat would meet with Turjeman in early January in Washington, but that was a few days before Bush left the White House and we received no such invitation. They claim that it was because I was finished politically, so he hesitated. But that is an excuse after the fact. They [the Palestinians] were very worried. Abu Mazen is not a big hero. They were afraid. Erekat was worried. In the end they thought that maybe after the American elections they would get more from President Obama.”
This is consistent with Jackson Diehl’s reporting about Abbas since 2009. Short after President Obama’s inaguruation, Diehl wrote Abbas’s Waiting Game.
Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. “The Americans are the leaders of the world,” Abbas told me and Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt. “They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, ‘You have to comply with the conditions.’ “
That’s a general consideration, but I suspect that there’s at least one specific consideration.
In 1985, Conor Cruise O’Brien wrote Why Israel can’t take bold steps for peace in the Atlantic. (It was adapted from his history of, The Siege.) The article is well worth reading in its entirety as it serves as a reminder as to how far Israel’s come in the past 27 years; and how intransigent the Palestinians have been over the same time. O’Brien wrote about Jerusalem:
It is true that the moderate Arab states–Egypt and Saudi Arabia–would be likely to approve the “territory for peace” arrangements described, but on one condition: that the territories transferred by Israel to Arab rule included East Jerusalem. Failing that, the deal would be denounced by virtually the whole Arab and Moslem world. And it is as certain as anything can be that the state of Israel will not give up any part of its capital, Jerusalem, in exchange for anything at all, even peace.
In explaining why Abbas rejected Olmert’s offer, Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat (in an unhinged rant) told Al Jazeera:
In November 2008… Let me finish… Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: “We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin.” Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: “I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign…
The “unprecedented” offer of territory made by Olmert was not enough. The international sharing of Jerusalem proposed by Olmert was not enough.
But I think that there’s one overarching reason that Abbas won’t make peace. He’s not interested. Incorrectly hailed as a moderate by virtue of his not being Yasser Arafat, Abbas has benefited hugely from his role as Israel’s “peace partner.” He has been able to accumulate a nice fortune for himself and his family and consolidate his personal power. All the while he gets to jet around the world condemning Israel to near universal acclaim. For Abbas being head of the PA must be a dream come true. What’s the alternative? Actually making peace, would entail messy details like actually having to govern. He doesn’t need that.
2) Who shot at Hezbollah?
Shortly after Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah proclaimed victory in Syria …
The leader of the Lebanese Shia militant Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, has promised his supporters they will prevail in Syria, where they are backing President Bashar al-Assad.
“This battle is ours… and I promise you victory,” he said in a TV address.
In the speech from an undisclosed location, Mr Hasrallah said if Sunni Islamists took over in Syria, they would pose a threat to the entire Lebanese population – Shia and Sunni Muslims, as well as Christians.
Syrian resistance is calling Nasrallah “the Dajjal”. This is Arabic for: “That fat guy hiding in the basement of the Iranian embassy”.
— Michael Ross (@mrossletters) May 26, 2013
Source close to Hizbullah to AFP: 22 Hizbullah members were killed in Qusayr on Saturday. naharnet.com
— Naharnet (@Naharnet) May 26, 2013
— Phillip Smyth (@PhillipSmyth) May 27, 2013
The strikes, which injured four people, appeared to be a warning shot to Hezbollah, coming just hours after its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, said his militants would back the Syrian government to victory. The spillover adds urgency to efforts by Russia and the United States to organize peace talks to end the conflict, which Damascus confirmed Sunday it would attend “in principle.”
— Jonathan Schanzer (@JSchanzer) May 26, 2013
— Tony Badran (@AcrossTheBay) May 26, 2013
— Phillip Smyth (@PhillipSmyth) May 26, 2013
Rocket attack against northern Israel. Containable effort by Hezbollahto show it hasn’t forgotten its roots, as it represses in Qusair?
— Michael Young (@BeirutCalling) May 26, 2013
The Syrian civil war continues to spill over into Lebanon and Israel.DONATE
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