Sunday, August 2, 2009

Analysis: Depressing signs from Riyadh, Ramallah and Damascus

The Jerusalem Post, By Herb Keinon (2/8/2009) Call it the three noes of the summer of '09. Following intensive efforts by US Mideast envoy George Mitchell to relaunch a diplomatic process in the region that would lead to a comprehensive peace process, the Arab world over the weekend - in three seemingly disconnected events - seemed to give its response, and it sounded like echoes of the famous three noes from Khartoum following the Six Day War...

Sources in Jerusalem were less diplomatic.

"For many years most of the Arab world was not involved directly in the peace process. It was like a soccer game, and they chose not to be a player, but rather to sit in the stands and boo or cheer," one senior government source said.

"If they decide to continue with that pattern of behavior they will continue to be largely irrelevant," the source said. "They can continue booing and cheering, but their ability to influence the peace process will be marginal."

And then, sounding a warning that Israel was indeed watching carefully to see what gesture the Arab world would make, the official added, "It is clear that Israel's ability to move forward in the peace process will be more limited if the Arab world takes a decision to remain aloof."

Six months after US President Barack Obama took over and began seriously recalibrating the country's Middle East policy, and a week after he sent his A-Team here for intensive discussions, this is what he has to show for it: an Israeli public that, as recent polls indicate, doesn't trust him; and an Arab world that remains unwilling, despite all his coddling, to make any practical move or gesture toward Israel - not promises of normalization at the end of the process, but practical steps that would give Israelis any confidence in any of those promises.

Click here for full story