Opinion | Columnists

Bush must know he cannot get peace deal

A quick way to bring Israel in line is for the US to withhold its billions in aid.

  • By Nicholas Coates, Associate Editor
  • Published: 23:40 September 27, 2008
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Illustration by Luis Vazquez/Gulf News

George W. Bush is Whistling Dixie if he believes he can get a Middle East peace deal before he leaves office. If he hasn't succeeded in the past eight years, how is he going to manage in four months? The simple answer is: he won't. It will be one of the many problems he will leave to his successor.

To the Arab world, and Palestinians in particular, the presidential candidates are of the same coin. They have given no indication of how they would go about ending the Middle East conflict, other than the immortal phrase of King Edward VIII on visiting the depressed coal mining villages in South Wales, when he observed "something must be done".

As with the king, John McCain and Barack Obama could not define exactly what that "something" should be, only that there should be something.

Shuttling

Bush and Condoleezza Rice have spent much of the administration term shuttling between Palestine, Israel and the US trying to find a solution that will bring that elusive peace to the Middle East.

Rice's main achievement seems to have been to build up a significant amount of air-miles which she can use on leaving office. Other than that, her time has been wasted because she has ignored the bump in the road - Israel.

Sadly it is already obvious to many that neither Obama nor McCain will challenge the Israel "preferred nation" status - well, certainly not at this time just before the November election. They both believe the Jewish vote to be far too important to their success to have any concern about the strength of Jews in US politics.

It is a position that progressively over the years has grown considerably, leaving the impression to many, politicians in particular, that their vote wields far more power than it actually does.

Opponents of the Jewish strength in America point to their infiltration in politics, business, and the media in particular, but also in the grassroots and their lobbying power in Washington.

Yet non-Jews far outnumber Jews in the US, it's just that non-Jews have not concerted their efforts as efficiently or effectively. While Arabs in the US have increased over the years, their influence has not increased in equal measure.

Unless Bush and Rice, or their successors, take the bull by the horns and challenge Israel to make greater concessions to the Palestinians, there will never be the two-state solution so enamoured by Bush.

There will not even be a three-state solution (Israel, West Bank, Gaza), which is the least desirable solution of all, which fortunately has not been touted as yet.

Bush and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, when meeting in the White House on Friday, claimed they both "live in hope" of a settlement before Bush leaves office.

The truth is, neither of them live in hope, they both live in cloud cuckoo-land. There can never be any form of agreement with Israel while it maintains its present position.

The Israelis stubbornly show little or no room for manoeuvre or flexibility, knowing they do not have to as long as US administrations, previous, present and successive ones, dare not tackle the issue head-on.

A quick way to bring Israel in line is for the US to withhold its aid. George Herbert Walker Bush, when president, stopped some peripheral aid given to Israel but as it was only a token gesture it did nothing to persuade Israel to fall in line. Yet it is ironic that many Americans do not know how much aid and grants their country gives to Israel

"Since 1949 the US has given Israel a total of $83.205 billion. The interest costs borne by US tax-payers on behalf of Israel are $49.937 billion, thus making the total amount of aid given to Israel since 1949 $133.132 billion.

"This may mean that US government has given more federal aid to the average Israeli citizen in a given year than it has given to the average American citizen." (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs).

Furthermore, these figures do not include soft loans or special deals for military equipment which are very difficult to extrapolate, for obvious reasons.

Israel has managed to convince many leaders in the West that it is the advocate of peace and it is the Palestinians who are the aggressors.

But Israel consistently fails to remind people that they are the occupiers of Palestinian land. It is this omission that destroys all attempts at peace in the Middle East and will continue to do so while that lie persists.

Gulf News

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