Weekly Commentary: Rice indicates shift in policy: Palestinian state before
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 27 September 2007
When U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talks in a public forum she is
extremely careful about what she says. And what she doesn't.
That's what makes her remarks at the 23 September press conference at United
Nations Headquarters she held with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and other
Quartet Principals so disturbing
Here is what she first said:
"And if you look at the phase-one commitments, it is very hard to imagine
the establishment of a Palestinian State in which the phase-one commitments
have not been realized or have not been carried through. And so, absolutely,
those phase-one commitments have to be met."
So far so good.
But then she said:
"... But it is absolutely the case that you're not going to be able to
establish a Palestinian State if you don't have a commitment to end terror,
if you don't have a commitment to end settlement activity, if you don't have
a commitment to non-violence. All of those things have to be achieved. The
Palestinians will have to have capacities. They will have to have security
forces that can provide security against terrorism, but that can also
provide security for the Palestinian people."
First Rice says that "it is very hard to imagine the establishment of a
Palestinian State" if the phase-one commitments haven't been carried out.
But Rice doesn't make it a red line. Instead the red line is "commitment"
rather than action.
Put simply, the solid red line is that before there is a sovereign
Palestinian state the PA has to issue are really well written declaration -
a really strongly worded one. And they have to be armed to the teeth.
What about actually doing something on the ground? "terror" has been given
the same weight as "settlement activity". As far as Rice seems to be
concerned, the people building a sukkah in Ramat Eshkol are just as much a
problem as the terrorist trying to blow up a bomb in Tel Aviv. This gives
tremendous "wiggle room" to argue that both parties are not behaving.
But again: while the Roadmap spoke of action - Rice's red line appears to be
only declarative in nature.
But that's not what phase-one was all about. It requires both talk and
Here is the wording:
Talk: "Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating
Israel's right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate
and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence
against Israelis anywhere."
Action: "All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against
Talk: "Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism "
Action: "and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and
restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on
And while Rice talks about apparently arming the Palestinians to the teeth
(does "but that can also provide security for the Palestinian people" mean
an ability to fight Israel?) she also ignores action:
"Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins
sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those
engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and
infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons
Instead of real action we have some photo ops.
This week the PA tried to make a splash in the press by handing over some
pipes to Israeli authorities - claiming that they were Qassam rockets.
Similar hollow photo ops can be expected in the future. This while
"moderate peace partner" Mahmoud Abbas continues to take a strong position
against Israel right to defend itself from terror attacks.
The last thing that Israeli officials can afford to do is ignore this policy
The shift away from requiring Palestinian compliance before the forming of a
Palestinian state isn't a matter of nuance. It is fundamental.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
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