Middle East Comment from a Traveling Journo

Middle East Peace: The Man in the Way

I went to a discussion last night with David Trimble and Jonathan Powell on the lessons the Good Friday Agreement may have for Middle Eastern Peace. Whilst there were many interesting debates, which you will soon be able to find here, there was one comment about Dennis Ross that got me thinking.

Dennis Ross has been advising the US government on Middle Eastern Policy for years. His advice on the wording of negotiation, and the details of concessions has been central to US policy since Reagan. Last night, Lord Trimble said that Obama should have listened more closely to Ross before he made the ‘unwise’ decision to announce his support for the 67 borders. Trimble is an inspiration for many many reasons, but he is totally wrong on this one.

No administration since Reagan has made much headway on finding a solution to the Palestinian issue, and Ross has been the common denominator in every single one. He has been able to weave his way through successive Democratic and Republican administrations, by being himself a Democrat who appeals to libertarian sentiment in the Republican camp. But make no mistake, he is very definitely a pro-Israeli Conservative – with a big C – when it comes to the Middle East, as his work with AIPAC and PNAC shows. This is a man who signed a letter supporting war in Iraq with men like Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. He ensured the Palestinians were the ones to make every concession at Camp David and now he doesn’t want the President to say what we all know is true. How can his judgement be counted upon?

The ultimate proof that this man is standing in the way of peace is George J Mitchell’s resignation. Mitchell is one of the most inspirational men in US politics and was pivotal to the brokering of peace in Northern Ireland. He resigned last week as Mid East Envoy – it is widely assumed – because of Dennis Ross. Political appointments in every country are made to appease certain factions, and Ross’ constant presence in all these administrations is the product of a very powerful Jewish Lobby. Mitchell was a wonderful appointment, but his effective deputy undermined everything he did.

‘There is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just that there’s no tunnel.’

This is what Shimon Peres said when asked about the prospects for peace in the Middle East. It was quoted last night. Everyone knows the 67 borders is that light. But we all know too that there needs to be the political willpower and leadership to build the tunnel. Palestine’s divided leadership has made that impossible, as has Israel’s intransigence since 2009. It was right that Obama used his own instincts when writing that speech, because the President’s words – rather than those of an envoy or secretary of state – lend a lot more weight to an argument most people on earth know is right, but for a certain powerful few. Ross should have resigned, not Mitchell.


Filed under: Middle East

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Middle East Comment from a Travelling Journo

%d bloggers like this: