U.S. envoy George Mitchell met in Jerusalem today with top Israeli officials to push for what at the moment appears unlikely: substantive talks between a divided Palestinian leadership and the new right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.You see the problem. It isn't that American money won't continue to flow into Izzy coffers: it will. Ditto weapons systems, munitions, etc. But Mitchell doesn't quite have his mind right yet. He still sounds (a little bit) like someone who might backsass the bosses. He may need a few days in the box. He may need a few cycles of digging out that big hole and then filling it back in.
Mitchell's diplomatic trip comes amid a troubling atmosphere highlighted by the Netanyahu government's refusal to commit to a Palestinian state and growing animosity between Egypt and the radical Lebanese group Hezbollah, which Cairo alleges has dispatched militants into Egypt to stage attacks near the Gaza border and at tourist sites in the Sinai.
Mitchell told reporters following a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that "U.S. policy favors, with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a two-state solution which will have a Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel."
Lieberman said new ideas were needed on the Palestinian question. He characterized the talk with Mitchell as "a great opportunity to exchange some ideas, and we spoke about really close cooperation."
Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said: "The preferable course of diplomatic action at this time is two economies for two peoples and not two states for two peoples. The American emissary also knows that forcing the region into virtual diplomatic discourse will only breed the opposite results."
Of course, while servants need to mind their manners, the bosses can relax and say what they want:
The unease the Obama administration and the Arab world have for Netanyahu's government is personified by Lieberman. Israel supports peace talks with the Palestinians, but Lieberman has said his country is not bound by the U.S.-backed plan for Palestinian statehood that was reached in Annapolis in 2007. This stance and a recent comment suggesting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key negotiator in the peace process, should "go to hell" have made Lieberman unwelcome in Cairo.Of course, it doesn't much matter what some Arab wog named Ahmed Aboul Gheit says. I mean, it's not like Capitol Hill is a wholly-owned subsidiary of anything called the American Egyptian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC). It shouldn't surprise us, though, when we find ourselves sharing the international pariah status that our Izzy masters have earned for themselves. It will surprise us, I'm sure ... but it shouldn't.
"We will work with any proposal by the Israeli government but not through the Israeli foreign minister," Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, told Russian TV in a story picked up Wednesday by Israel's Channel 2.
Gheit said that Lieberman would not be allowed to travel to Egypt, adding, "A person should think about the consequences of the signals he sends from his brain to his tongue."
Finally: isn't it ironic when the truth occasionally blurts itself out, despite the best intentions of the speaker?
The issue of Iran and its nuclear program was also a topic Thursday. After Mitchell met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, the president said he emphasized dialogue on the issue.'Scuse me, there, Boss Peres, but the only nuclear-armed Middle Eastern entity (west of Pakistan, at least) is ... who? Yes, that's what I thought: the serial sodomizers of Gaza and Lebanon. Those holding the bombs are religious fanatics, extremists, that do not cringe from all methods of killing. Hmmmmm. If the shoe fits, dude ...
"It is our common interest that dialogue with Iran will expose if there is an opportunity with Iran or is it all a hoax," Peres said. "We all want a world that is clean of nuclear bombs, but the problem is that those holding the bombs are religious fanatics, extremists, that do not cringe from all methods of killing."