YOUSSEF IBRAHIM discusses it in the NY Sun
[..] The platitudes of this new search are so many, so old, and so repetitive. Go back and check the late 1970s or the heyday of the Oslo accord fever of 1993, and you will encounter the same stuff: last chance, critical moment, now or never, the area is ready, etc.
Here is what is not new. The Arab Quartet is about as useless and toothless as the Arab League itself, none of whose members are prepared to recognize Israel’s right to exist unconditionally. The Israelis are not about to pull out of the West Bank or the Golan Heights of Syria unconditionally, if at all.
Hamas and the other Islamic Palestinian Arab fanatics will continue to lob rockets into Israel. Hezbollah is preparing for the next round in Lebanon of fighting Israelis and Lebanese. The Palestinians will remain at each other throats in Gaza and the West Bank, regardless. Saudi Arabia is scared silly about Iran and the sectarian wars between Shiites and Sunnis on its borders, which is just about the only thing that matters in Riyadh. Egypt is steadily descending into a failed state where the succession to the post of 78-year-old dictator Hosni Mubarak promises to be messy. Jordan has virtually no role to play anywhere and no weight to speak of ever since it lost its West Bank to Israel. And the United Arab Emirates has never had any weight to begin with.
The most startling non-news is that new magical American solution. One newspaper writer asserted Sunday that Secretary Rice â€˜’has opened the door to the possibility” she might offer her “own proposals to bridge the divide.” Wow. We can hardly wait.
“Such an initiative would be proof of a profound policy change for the Bush administration,” says another American daily. Ms. Rice’s handlers are telling reporters on her plane that part of her plan is “prodding Saudi Arabia, to reach out to Israel with an offer of eventually normalizing relations between Israelis and Saudis on the horizon.”
Gee, I thought that was what Tom Friedman of the New York Times did in his column the other day when he urged the Saudi King Abdallah to visit Jerusalem and tell the Jews he loves them.
On the other hand, maybe not. Newspapers cited a briefing by a senior American official stressing that â€˜â€˜the secretary was not preaching to them about how they ought to do their business.”
After much reading and listening yesterday it seems the new plan is that “Ms. Rice may be able to get some sort of formal or informal mechanism going that could give Israelis hope of eventually normalizing relations with the Arab world,” American officials told the New York Times and others.
“It would be a very good thing if at some point the Arab initiative provided a basis for discussion,” Ms. Rice herself added.
To which the effervescent secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, promptly replied to the Reuters news agency: “We fail to understand why we should modify such a peace offer and make it less objective and less positive.”
I hope this cleared it all up.