Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Long term Perspective vs. No Full Picture

Historians looking back at distant events have the advantage of knowing how they played out; which things that seemed crucial at the time had no long-term significance whatsoever; and who "got it right". Then again, historians see only a small portion of the reality the living actors operated in, and this sanitizing of the past and Darwinian winnowing out of all unimportant facts can of course severely hamper historians' ability to understand what was going on.

Contemporaries have a different set of problems in understanding their reality. Besides not knowing what will prove significant and what is merely chaff blowing in our eyes and obscuring our vision, there's also a lot going on that we don't know about. Or is there? And what is it that we don't know?

Roni Sofer claims to know of a de-facto Israeli acquiescence with Obama's demand to cease construction in all settlements, even in East Jerusalem. The agreement is for six months only, so as to give the Americans time to prove the viability of their track (or its non-viability, I might add). It has already started, Sofer tells: the Ministry of Housing has not authorized any new construction projects in any settlements since the elections. The Minister of Housing is Ariel Atias of Shas, and reportedly is at the heart of the decision in spite of the contradictory posturing of Eli Yishai, the boss of his own party.

The settlers are all in an uproar, predictably, though this proves only that their politicians have identified an issue that offers them some publicity, that lifeline of politicians everywhere. Or maybe it proves there really is a freeze on construction? After all, they wouldn't be kvetching so loudly if the facts themselves were wrong, would they? Politicians wouldn't do that, would they?

You might be interested to notice, by the way, that our internationally-touted "far-right-almost-fascist-evil-settler" Avigdor Lieberman isn't participating in this particular circus. You may infer whatever you wish from that.

Egypt's Mubarak, meanwhile, has a meeting later today with Obama in Washington, and an Arabic newspaper in London claims there's a deal in the making (says Y-net. I don't read Arabic).

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his American counterpart, Barack Obama, are expected during their White House meeting Tuesday to discuss "an initiative of leaders" for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, in which the Palestinians will waive the right of return in exchange for compensation, the London-based Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Tuesday.
According to the report, the same initiative includes amending the 1967 borders in a way which has not been detailed, as well as the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state, with Jerusalem being the joint capital of both states.
If true, this means the Egyptians have accepted Netanyahu's terms for peace, or most of them. Palestine will be demilitarized, and no Right of Return; if this is coupled with a clear Palestinian acceptance of End of Conflict, meaning no additional claims can be made, the essence is very close to the demand for Palestinian acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State. Only on the matter of Jerusalem will Netanyahu have to change his declared position.

No one seems to be claiming the Palestinians will accept this package.

The item also contains this

According to the newspaper, commentators estimated that Mubarak's meeting with the Jewish lobby is a manifestation of the warming relations between Egypt and the Netanyahu government, which have been expressed in a series of issues in recent months, including allowing Israeli submarines to cross the Suez Canal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres' visits to Egypt.

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