I’m having a flashback to my teenage years now…. seeing tables fly by my window, the way Dorothy saw witches on broomsticks or bitches on bicycles, or both, in The Wizard of Oz: round tables, rectangular tables, horseshoe-shaped tables, parallel tables — oh, man, I’m getting dizzy. Tea leaves swirl around in the thick soot and unidentifiable debris that spins around with the house.
I wake up in a sweat and shake my head. I’m not in Paris! (Good. I hate France.) I look at my iPhone on the night-table. It’s not a Timex. It’s obviously not 1973 anymore either! We’re not trying to organize the end of the Vietnam War. Then what the hell is going on here?
Oh, shit. I’m at the United Nations General Assembly. Prozac for breakfast again today.
Back to reality
The speech today by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in which he said, “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people ….” but remarkably never acknowledged Judaism or Jews, was well-played in Ramallah, where things were surprisingly peaceful, but what kind of a childish snub is that by Abbas? Is he a diplomat, or just a dip?
But still, at a time when virtually no one in Israel was listening (it was after sundown Friday night in Israel, and the last Sabbath of the lunar year), Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stood up in front of the U.N. General Assembly in New York and again offered to meet with Abbas in New York, in the very building in which they were both standing, immediately, and with no preconditions.
Netanyahu, longtime far to the right in Israeli politics, has reached deep inside his support base and pulled concessions out, at his own personal and political risk, and offered them to the Palestinians. And each time he’s thrown some more human chips into the pot – in the form of uprooted Israeli settlers and in some cases entire communities – he’s been paid back in Katyushas, Grads, Qassams, and al-Quds – rockets and grenades, but no peace. None.
If the economy in Gaza is so bad, where are they getting money for rockets and other munitions, and why are they spending it on that and not food or rebuilding schools or developing commerce? Where in the developed, civilized world do citizens just walk around with AK47s, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and shoulder-launched missiles? Do they have any police in Gaza, or are they preparing for the end of days? (Caution: Do NOT get me started on that.)
The meeting, no surprise, has not taken place. Netanyahu refuses to dismantle another Israeli home, school, synagogue, what have you, on the West Bank as a pre-condition for just sitting down at the table with Abbas.
Abbas, for his part, doesn’t seem to have the ability to rule nor the authority to represent. Even al-Jazeera reported that Netanyahu was unlikely to get any real response from Abbas because the Palestinian leadership has said it will not meet before establishing clear terms of reference and a timetable. So, Abbas simply split town.
For whatever today’s speeches were worth, this is the grand total of all the energy spent by all parties today, according to a Reuters report in Ha’aretz:
The “Quartet” of Middle East mediators (EU, Russia, US, and the UN) proposed on Friday that Israel and the Palestinians should meet within one month to agree (on) an agenda for new peace talks with a goal of a deal by the end of 2012.
They’re now committed to talking about two points: How they refer to each other; and when to have a meeting to agree on when to meet.
It’s like the Paris Peace Talks all over again.
*** Update: In an article by Tovah Lazaroff, Khaled Abu Toameh, and Herb Kein, The Jerusalem Post reports: “Israel responded positively Saturday, and the Palestinians negatively, to a formula for restarting negotiations issued by the Quartet that would place a December 2012 deadline on reaching an agreement.” Read JPost Article