Finally they came up with a reason for us to party. Dress up, do your hair, and make yourselves comfortable in front of the television. Wait for next Wednesday, to see the touching photograph courtesy of the White House spokesman: Six men in dark suits, in line with protocol, smiling from ear to ear.
There’s no need to explain the photo, as everyone knows each other: Three Muslims, two Christians, and one Jew. A king (Jordan,) two presidents (Obama and Mubarak,) a leader without a state (Abbas,) a prime minister (Netanyahu, who cannot and does not intend to give Abbas a state,) and a former PM (Tony Blair, the only one who will maintain his good haircut even if the event ends with no results.”)
Maybe it would nonetheless be an optimistic breeze? It’s been a while since the White House had to produce a peace summit. However, nobody dreams that Obama is actually going to deliver a Palestinian state on the lawn.
Should we not see any last minute changes, Mubarak will arrive in Washington in order to show that he’s present as required, and to ensure American support for his son, Gamal.
His Highness Abdullah will arrive in a bid to elicit a pledge that the mess in Iraq won’t flood Jordan with millions of refugees, and that the mess expected in the territories after the collapse of negotiations will not scare off masses of Palestinians to the Kingdom on the other bank of the River. It’s hardest to be envious of the Jordanian king, who is being suffocated on both ends.
Next: Abbas will show up to ensure that he is not left alone with Bibi in the framework of direct talks. It’s not only Hamas that is breathing down his neck. Abbas’ relationship with his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, is reminiscent of the Rabin- Peres relationship at the height of their conflict.
The common concern: Iran
A Palestinian state? Don’t make the sextet laugh. A state can only be established in the West Bank, only with settlers inside it, only with the IDF remaining in the area, and only with an international force. Netanyahu is nowhere near agreeing to east Jerusalem being the Palestinian state’s capital; Abbas is nowhere near renouncing the right of return.
On the face of it, there’s a tight timetable. Obama will surely announce (so what?) that an independent Palestinian state will be established a year from now. However, the electricity reactor inaugurated in Bushehr over the weekend may also change its spots in a year, and that’s a much more pressing issue.
Sit down with any one sextet member and ask what truly bothers him, and you will immediately find a common denominator: The Iranian ayatollahs, dormant terror cell that may awaken at once, and the prospect of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards dangerously creeping into more or less sane regions. Ask the Saudi king: The Iranian creeping process is alarming him, with missiles that may come from the skies and assassinations on the ground, just like in Lebanon.
So what will they nonetheless whine about around the table? Hezbollah, for example, preoccupies the security agencies of Jordan (Aqaba,) Egypt (Sinai,) and Ramallah (West Bank recruitment efforts.) There’s also Bashar Assad, who at any moment can bring Hamas down.
It will also be possible to utter slogans about economic cooperation; someone (Jordan’s king) will surely try to breathe life into the Arab peace initiative, which promises full peace and normal ties. Now you made Bibi laugh again. With nothing to give Abbas, Netanyahu is already shifting his attention to Assad, offering him a ticket to Washington and the opportunity to sit at the same table, with the same host, in Abbas’ chair. Whatever Abbas gets, Bibi will promise the same to the Syrian president.
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