According to the leading correspondent covering the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, Shimon Shiffer of Yediot Ahronot (Israel's largest newspaper), President Bush's address at Annapolis "will not be easy for Israeli ears." In Friday's magazine, he argues, in an article co-authored by his colleague Nahum Barnea, that Bush will call for "the establsihment of a Palestinian state, the end of 'occupation,' and a return of Israel to the 1967 borders, leaving an opening for land swaps."Is Bush really ready to sell Israel down the river for an Arab alliance? Historically, the Arabs have not been the most reliable of allies. For that matter, you can question just what kind of friend of Israel the US has been.
The authors explain that Olmert knows that "this text cannot be changed."
If the report is true, and both of these reporters have direct access to Olmert, then Bush is close to abandoning the April 2004 gurantees on settlement blocs and "defensible borders" that he gave in writing to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. That letter was all Israel received for pulling 9,000 Israelis out of their homes in the Gaza Strip. That was the quid pro quo. Back in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson insisted that Israel was not expected to fully withdraw from the territories it captured in the Six Day War (in a war of self-defense) and this US position was enshrined forty years ago in the language of UN Security Council Resolution 242.
It is difficult to believe that Bush, who is known for his consistancy and loyalty, would make this change and demand full withdrawal. In Sunday's Maariv newspaper, Ben Caspit, its chief foreign affairs correspondent, is reporting that there is a struggle in Washington today over the contents of the Bush Annapolis address, with the Saudis, Rice, and Israel all pulling in different directions. Today, Bush's old friend Sharon is in a comma in an Israeli hospital and cannot comment on such a change should it occur.
But it is also difficult to explain the sudden decision of the Saudis to attend Annapolis at the level of foreign minister, unless someone in the administration gave them some guarantees.
And now Syria--suspected of assassinating anti-Syria leaders in Lebanon--is accepting an invitation to attend. Just how much of Israel does Bush thing there is to give away?
Those who wrote that the failure of Annapolis was a foregone conclusion may have underestimated Bush's determination to leave with the White House with a legacy.
We'll know better this week.
Benny Alon has written:
This Thanksgiving, Olmert is the turkeyAlon may be more willing to blame Olmert than Bush for the pressure Olmert claims he is under, but either way Olmert--and Israel--seem to be the ones all trussed up and ready to be cooked.
Ehud Olmert recently tried to explain to me that in his position as Prime Minister, there are pressures and demands put upon him that the public could not possibly understand.
In an attempt to justify his actions leading up to the Annapolis conference, he said that pressure from America forced him to make concessions. Despite this excuse, America cannot be blamed for Israel's mistakes in pursuing a failed policy for peace.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Annapolis and President Bush.