Last week, in what I now think was a foolish burst of optimism (in my defense, it was a lovely, sunny day), I noted that the Arabs were resurrecting the Saudi peace plan. It’s a lousy plan for the Israelis, which is why, despite the New York Times‘ urging, they’ve been rejecting it. I naively suggested, however, that it might not be mere posturing, but might actually stand as the opening salvo in a series of negotiations. Unfortunately, others may think the same, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has proposed holding a regional peace conference following the revival of an Arab peace initiative.
Mr Olmert said if Saudi Arabia arranged a conference of moderate Arab states and invited him and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, he would attend.
Earlier, Mr Abbas urged Israel to engage in direct serious negotiations as soon as possible.
Last week Arab leaders urged Israel to accept a peace plan proposed in 2002.
Saudi Arabia has yet to respond but the BBC’s Alim Maqbool in Jerusalem says Mr Olmert’s call for a regional summit suggests the plan could at least form a basis for fresh negotiations.
The Saudi plan offers Israel normalisation of ties with Arab states if it pulls out of all Arab land it occupied in 1967 and a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees.
Israel rejected the plan outright when it was first proposed.
But Mr Olmert said on Thursday Israel was ready to make “big and painful” concessions to advance the peace process.
While I rather quickly realized that the Arab states were posturing for the Western media and politicians, Olmert seems to be willing to place Israel’s collective neck onto the chopping block and to hand the Arabs the sword. Why else would he open his negotiation by saying that “Israel was ready to make ‘big and painful’ concessions to advance the peace.” In what rational world does a party walk into a negotiation announcing his intention to abase himself to the other side’s interests?
Really, I despair of the Israelis — or at least the Israeli leaders. Somehow they seem to have lost the will to be smart. Instead, they’d rather be popular. They are precisely the same as the smart kid in school who starts taking hard drugs in the forlorn hope of getting “in with the In crowd.” The In crowd still knows an outsider when it sees it, and the smart kid is lucky to end up merely damaged and degraded, rather than dead.
UPDATE: Here’s the NY Times, via the Boston Globe, trying to urge Israel to take the political/national equivalent of Meth.