By Ted Belman, first published in April 3, ’03
Palestine for Iraq
We’ve been had. After Bush’s 2002 June speech, we rejoiced. We were home free. No such luck.
Bush has made a Faustian bargain. He has sold America’s soul, Israel, to the devil, Saudi Arabia. What is that bargain? I’ll give you Palestine, you give me Iraq.
Lately we have been reading that the US has been planning a regime change in Iraq for over a year now. To accomplish this they felt they needed the Arabs on board. To achieve this end, the following otherwise incomprehensible actions were taken by the US administration.
Israel was restrained from defending itself after the spate of suicide bombings last spring. Arafat was protected at all costs.
The groundwork was laid for the Road Map by saying that the Palestinians `needed “hope” and by arguing the need for international observers.
The so-called Saudi Peace Plan was taken out of the drawer and released through the NY Times, which the administration did not reject out of hand.
The administration started to make speeches, which reaffirmed that the settlements were an obstacle to peace.
Bush made his June “vision speech” in which he sugar coated his vision of a Palestinian State with all kinds of safeguards for Israel, to make it easier for Israel to swallow the poison.
In September the Quartet released the first draft of the Road Map.
The Road Map is negotiated while the US attempted to get UN approval for the War. France and Germany proved intransigent but not the Arabs.
The final draft was released in December but not published ostensibly because of the Israeli elections and then until a government was formed. The administration also wanted Labour in the government of Israel so that it would be easier to get Israel to travel the Road Map. Sharon tried hard but didn’t succeed.
The Road Map was also held back as a trump card to ensure Arab support for the War which had not yet started.
As part of their bargain, the Arabs attempted to get agreement on ending the terror but didn’t succeed. No matter.
Throughout this period of time when it was negotiating with Saudi Arabia the State Department came often to the defence of Saudi Arabia describing them as a friend of the US. In fact their representative was invited to Bush’s ranch.
Much was made of the number of times Sharon met with Bush. Sharon rightly assumed great coordination of aims and often remarked that they saw “eye to eye”. But unfortunately he was blind.
As cover for the bargain, Blair became the fall guy and started pushing for a Palestinian state and the Road Map in his assigned role. In fact this was a smoke screen for the deal that had been cut with the Arabs.
The Administration made it appear that they were paying a debt to Blair to hide the deal with the Arabs.