Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 10/27/2011

From DG:

3 interview edition 

1) The 2nd generation dictator club
Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post interviewed King Abdullah of Jordan

Does that mean you have talked to President Assad?
I spoke to Bashar al-Assad twice in the springtime. . . . Basically, they were not interested in listening to our advice. They basically told us that there are a bunch of thugs in Syria and they had everything under control. A couple of times I have felt that I should reach out to him, but I really don’t know what to say. I think he does have reform in his soul but I don’t think that type of regime allows for any potential reformist. 
He didn't know what to say?
How about, "With Uday and Qusay gone, and the little Qaddafis on the run, our club is getting rather small."

You support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s request for U.N. membership?
Yes, we do. It is out of desperation and frustration that they are going to the U.N. I think part of the problem is that in the U.S., you have your other [domestic] priorities.. . .
I think the [Obama] administration would be very wary to step out front without guarantees on the Israeli-Palestinian process, which is a shame because it is desperately needed now. 
Nothing remarkable here. Not much different than what you would expect from a New York Times editorial. (The editors of the New York Times always make a point of saying that negotiations are the only way to go, but given the number of op-eds they published favoring the unilateral declaration and their failure to condemn Abbas for refusing to negotiate, it's pretty clear that the UDI doesn't bother them that much.)

2) Blair's history

Tony Blair was interviewed by Edmond Sanders of the LA Times. Blair said something incredible.

Has either side provided the quartet with a detailed proposal yet?
The Palestinians, of course, did table a proposal in the last talks that they had in Annapolis [Maryland in 2008 during the Bush administration]. They were detailed, significant proposals, on borders at least, in and around land swaps. This Israeli government has not produced such a proposal, and that's obviously one thing we have to explore with them.
What is Blair talking about? In 2008 Israel (PM Olmert) made a detailed offer to Abbas. Abbas rejected it. Is there another proposal that Blair is talking about or did he just reverse reality? (It seems that the proposal being referred to is one made to the Quartet directly. If that's indeed what Blair's talking about - and I've found no indication that such a proposal exists, though I haven't looked very hard - why should it have greater force than a proposal offered by one party to the other? 
3) But I thought settlements were the biggest obstacle

Ben Birnbaum interviewed Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in the Washington Times (h/t Daily Alert Blog)

Mr. Oren blasted the heroes’ welcome given to the freed Palestinian prisoners, many of whom had been convicted of terrorism.“I think it underscores the great difference between Israeli society and the society on the other side,” the ambassador said. “We celebrate life, they revel in death.”
He accused the Palestinian Authority, like the militant group Hamas, of celebrating killers, such as the mastermind of a 2001 bombing on a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem.
Mahmoud Abbas comes out and says, ‘Not only are these people heroes, but we’re going to work for the release of the terrorist who killed 39 people at a Passover Seder in Netanya, that’s a hero,’” Mr. Oren said. “What kind of message does that send to Palestinian children?”
This is a point that needs to be reiterated. The prisoners were not welcomed back as heroes for having survived the rigors of Israeli prisons but committing the acts that got them captured and sent to prison. Killing Jews is what makes them popular in Palestinian society. What does that say about "two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security?"
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