If Mr Bush gets the Saudis and Syrians as well as the Egyptians and Jordanians to show support in Maryland, this may boost and embolden Mr Abbas, at least for a while. If Annapolis leads to economic help and makes Israel free up movement on the West Bank, the life of many Palestinians will improve. If talks about borders, refugees and Jerusalem really do start right away, this will be a change: Israel previously cited the “road map” of 2003 as a reason to pickle final-status negotiations in formaldehyde until the PA uprooted the Palestinian militias. And if Israel honours its own obligation to freeze settlement in the territories, this may persuade some of the Palestinians who have good reason to doubt it that there will still be room one day for a state of their own.
Plan B, in short, is probably better than nothing. But if he dares, Mr Bush has it within his power to make Annapolis so much more. He cannot bring a free Palestine into being at a stroke, or even within the final year of his own presidency. The Israelis are right to say that the divided Palestinians are in no shape right now to govern a state: at some point Hamas has first to be bullied, bribed or cajoled into accepting Israel's permanence and joining the peace camp. But Annapolis does offer Mr Bush the perfect chance to make a speech that could set the Palestinians fair on the path to statehood, and leave America's next president in a far better position to finish the job.
...unless George W. Solomon turns up too
In this speech Mr Bush needs to set out forthrightly America's own plan for dividing Palestine. That would mark an historic change. In the past—in Madrid in 1991, for example, and at Camp David in 2000—the Americans asked the Israelis and Palestinians to thrash out their differences on their own. But they can't. The gap is too wide, and even when their respective leaders want to narrow it neither dares move towards the other for fear of the uproar from the ideological bitter-enders at home. The existence of an American blueprint that commanded international support would, however, immediately transform the political dynamic of both societies, fortifying the moderates and pushing the hardliners to the margins.
Although it would be too much to expect Mr Bush to unfurl a map at Annapolis, he could come quite close. For a start, he should make it clear that when America talks of a two-state solution, it has in mind a border based on the pre-1967 line. Three years ago Mr Bush said in a public letter to Ariel Sharon that it would be unrealistic to expect Israel to evacuate all the dense settlement blocks it has planted in the West Bank. Fine. But since most settlers live close to the old border, he can now tell Israel that it cannot keep more than a few percentage points—say 5% or so—of the West Bank, and that it must offer the Palestinians land from its own side in compensation. On refugees, Mr Bush should say, as Bill Clinton did, that their right to “return” should be exercised in the new Palestine and not in pre-1967 Israel: that is a bitter pill but it is the logic of a peace based on partition. And Israel too must accept a bitter potion: Jerusalem, the beating heart of both peoples, will have to be the capital of both.
If Mr Bush gives this speech, Mr Olmert and Mr Abbas will wax furious. They might agree with him in their hearts, but if only for domestic political consumption they will have to accuse the American president of setting an ambush, bullying the little guys, prejudging the final-status issues and riding roughshod over the views and rights of the people most directly affected. These fulminations can be safely ignored. Israel and the Palestinian territories alike are full of politicians who will tell you knowingly but off the record that only a deal along the lines described above stands the remotest chance of bringing permanent peace. It is high time the superpower and the rest of the world threw their weight behind such a plan. The photo-op at Annapolis may be just the place to do it.
Adéu a Nihil Obstat | Hola a The Catalan AnalystDesprés de 13 anys d'escriure en aquest bloc pràcticament sense interrumpció, avui el dono per clausurat. Això no vol dir que m'hagi jubilat de la xarxa, sinó que he passat el relleu a un altra bloc que segueix la mateixa línia del Nihil Obstat. Es tracta del bloc The Catalan Analyst i del compte de Twitter del mateix nom: @CatalanAnalyst Us recomano que els seguiu.
Moltes gràcies a tots per haver-me seguit amb tanta fidelitat durant tots aquests anys.
diumenge, 25 de novembre de 2007
Imposar la partició definitiva
Tot i les escasses expectatives que desperta la cimera que comença dimarts a Annàpolis, "The Economist" diu a Bush que pot donar un cop de puny a la taula i imposar una partició definitiva a les dues parts.
Publicado por NO a les 6:09 p. m.