Monday, February 28, 2011

Sidelined diplomats insist that "peace talks" remain the core issue in the Arab world

Diplomats seem really upset that they are being sidelined by events in the Arab world that are happening, inexplicably, without any input from them. Somehow Arabs are acting in ways that diplomats could not predict, did not expect, and have nothing to do with Israel.

Naturally, these same diplomats cannot accept the new reality, and they feel compelled to do everything they can to make the bizarre claim that stability in the Arab world depends on events between a Palestinian Arab people - who have already been widely derided within the Arab world for their inability to get their own act together - and Israel.

So we are now seeing a series of statements, each one dumber than the previous one:

Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, February 5:
"I believe that regional events shouldn't distract us from that objective for the future. We want to see peace and stability in the region. We believe the Middle East peace process is an essential part of that," Ashton told reporters.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, February 9:
The foreign secretary, William Hague, has warned Israel against allowing the Middle East peace process to become a casualty of turmoil in the region, urging it to tone down "belligerent language" over protests in Egypt and other neighbouring states.

Speaking on a visit to the region, Hague told the BBC: "Amidst the opportunity for countries like Tunisia and Egypt, there is a legitimate fear that the Middle East peace process will lose further momentum and be put to one side, and will be a casualty of uncertainty in the region."

The foreign secretary implicitly criticised recent statements by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in which he warned the country to prepare for "any outcome" and pledged to "reinforce the might of the state of Israel."

Hague told the Times: "This should not be a time for belligerent language. It's a time to inject greater urgency into the Middle East peace process."

One senior Israeli official said he was "simply flabbergasted" at the comments, adding that relations between friendly countries did not extend to issuing instructions over language.

February 22:
The European Union on Tuesday told Israel that growing instability in the Middle East makes it imperative to immediately resume the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, whose country currently chairs the EU, told Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday that "time is pressing" and that the Israeli-Palestinian talks "remain the core issue."

Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Peace Process, February 24:
A senior United Nations official today called for “credible and effective international intervention” to break the impasse in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, noting that a negotiated solution would help stabilize a Middle East currently in ferment.
And now, Daniel Kurtzer:
There is one set of U.S. policies that would impact positively on developments in Egypt and elsewhere and draw the collective breath of the Arab street: a determined, pro-active, aggressive effort to achieve a breakthrough in Israeli- Palestinian peace negotiations. The Obama administration is already on record as committed to this goal; two years of sustained effort without results prove the need for a more coherent and encompassing strategy.
Now, are these diplomats getting these ideas wholly out of their frustration that their efforts have been shown to be irrelevant towards real peace and stability in the region?

Or are they parroting the line that some Arab leaders are using to distract from their own potential revolutions?

From Arab News:
Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit pledged Sunday to give “priority” to the reactivation of the Arab-Israeli peace process despite the spate of uprisings that swept the region over the past weeks.

Bakhit, who formed a new Cabinet two weeks ago, made the remark as he presented his main policy statement to the lower house of parliament as a prelude for obtaining the chamber’s confidence.

“In spite of the escalating Arab and regional events and their subsequent repercussions, the government emphasizes that priority should be given to the Palestinian question … because it is a pivotal issue for Jordanian national security,” Bakhit said.

And Syria also weighs in with words that sound much like those we are hearing from the EU and UN:
The EU should take firm action against Israeli settlement-building and human rights abuses instead of playing politics in Egypt if it wants to calm tension in the Middle East, Syria's ambassador to the Union has said.

Speaking to EUobserver in Brussels on Wednesday (16 February), Mohamad Ayman Soussan said the main danger of conflict in the region comes from the Arab-Israeli problem not the revolution in Egypt or Tunisia.
Sounds like the Jordanians, Syrians and frustrated diplomats are singing from the same songsheet.