Can Condoleezza Turn The Tide?

by Paul Findley

A few days ago, emerging from the latest fruitless Arab-Israeli summit, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blurted bewilderment at the opposition of the Israeli government to The Arab Plan, the most popular proposal for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Confounded by the rejection, Rice said: “ I simply don’t understand why.”

It was her most recent effort to soft sell the plan. During the two years remaining in George W. Bush’s presidential term, she can rescue her boss from a bleak legacy as a failed war president and help him win world praise as a peacemaker in the Holy Land only if she drops the soft sell and demands presidential tough love.

Bush can force the cooperation of all parties and achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict only by facing down the Israeli government’s U.S. lobby. He must stand resolute and bring the immense resources of the presidency to force acceptance of the Arab League Plan. It is an offer by all 23 Arab states to establish normal, peaceful relations if Israel returns to its pre-June 1967 borders, except for mutually-approved land swaps near the pre-1967 border.

By now it must be self-evident to Bush that the Israelis will never experience true peace until Palestinians are secure within their own independent state. Perhaps Rice sees it, as I do, as a bargain Israel should seize. But she may not yet realize that Olmert follows pedestrian intincts. He must be driven to the Arab League Plan by political forces more menacing than the firebrand Jewish settlers on Palestinian land. He is a weak leader, under heavy assault at home for the failure of his Lebanese invasion last year. He is committed to cage the Palestinians behind 20-foot walls hoping this will break their spirit.

Rice’s confession at the recent summit suggests that she overlooked two vital facts: first, Israel’s rarely-discussed but firm goal--the ultimate inclusion into Greater Israel all the Arab land seized in the June 1967 Arab-Israel war. except the Sinai, long since returned to Egypt; and second, Israel’s firm control of U.S. Middle East policy. Its power is subtle but raw, sufficient to defend successfully Israel’s every act while terrorizing into submission almost every U.S. politician.

Nevertheless, considering the march of days and weeks, perhaps Rice will soon grasp reality and awaken President Bush to a rare chance to earn a bright page in history. Long a close friend and trusted adviser, Rice must persuade President Bush how he can win that page without firing a shot. He needs only to threaten to suspend all U.S. aid until Israel accepts the Arab League Plan. Bush has already taken steps in the right direction. He is the first president to endorse an independent Palestine. He repeated this pledge during his State of the Union Address.

Two recent events should awaken Rice—and the president--to the menacing role of the Israeli lobby: first, the well-publicized debate over a Study Paper on the Israel Lobby by two prestigious professors, Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago; and second, the wide, continuing controversy over former President Jimmy Carter’s latest bestseller book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid..

Bush has the leverage that enables him to prevail over any counterattack by Israel and its U.S. lobby. As the prime target of Israel’s main lobby in the early 1980s, I understand the lobby’s resources, but long personal experience on Capitol Hill convinces me that any U.S. president can overcome the lobby by taking his case to the American people. The president’s father, George H. W. Bush, did just that briefly midway in his administration.

Is Bush up to the task? In the waning days of his administration will he demand a comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement? Can Secretary Rice turn his attention from the hleak scene in Iraq to the bright promise of the Arab League Plan?
Polls show Israeli support for the Plan is already at 40 percent, while Palestinian support is over 70 percent. If the president acts decisively—a talent he has already demonstrated –he will prevail.

The achievement will be so towering it will elicit joy from all people of goodwill worldwide, especially Muslims, and help restore America’s moral authority to the high road where it belongs. Because it would signal Bush’s commitment to justice for Palestinian Arabs, it might lessen anti-American insurgency among Iraqi Arabs.

On the president’s personal report card this peacemaking would, I believe, substantially counter-balance his ill-fated war-making.
801words -0- [1-25-07]

Paul Findley served as a Republican U.S. Representative from Illinois from 1961-83. He is the author of five books, including the Washington Post bestseller, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions.  Confront Israel’s Lobby. He resides in Jacksonville, Illinois.


Top of the page

| Home | Al Habtoor Group | Habtoor Hotels | Al Habtoor Automobiles |
Diamond Leasing | Emirates International School |

Copyright © 2007 Al Habtoor Group. All Rights Reserved.
Articles, excerpts, and translations may not be reproduced in any form
without written permission of the Al Habtoor Group.