The mood is dark in the IDF's General Staff ahead of next week's "peace" conference in Annapolis. As one senior officer directly involved in the negotiations with the Palestinians and the Americans said, "As bad as it might look from the outside, the truth is ten times worse. This is a nightmare. The Americans have never been so hostile."
Thursday a draft of the joint statement that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are discussing ahead of the conference was leaked to the media. A reading of the document bears out the IDF's concerns.
The draft document shows that the Palestinians and the Israelis differ not only on every issue, but differ on the purpose of the document. It also shows that the US firmly backs the Palestinians against Israel.
The Palestinians are also trying to take away Israel's right to determine for itself whether to trust the Palestinians and continue making diplomatic and security concessions or not by making it the responsibility of outside actors to decide the pace of the concessions and whether or not the Palestinians should be trusted.
As the leaked draft document shows, the Americans have sided with the Palestinians against Israel. Specifically, the Americans have taken for themselves the sole right to judge whether or not the Palestinians and the Israelis are abiding by their commitments and whether and at what pace the negotiations will proceed.
But the Americans are have shown themselves to be unworthy of Israel's trust. By refusing to acknowledge Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party's direct involvement in terrorism and indeed the direct involvement of his official Fatah "security forces" in terrorism, the Americans have shown that their benchmarks for Palestinian compliance with their commitments to Israel are not necessarily based on the reality on the ground. Then too, the US demands for wide-ranging Israeli security concessions to the Palestinians even before the "peace" conference at Annapolis have shown that Israel's security is of little concern to the State Department.
If the administration has decided to embrace the Palestinians as a means of weakening Iran, its decision is wrong on three counts. First, given Iran's support for the Palestinians, empowering them against Israel simply advances Iran's interest. Second, the Annapolis conference has become a hostage of Iranian goodwill which is non-existent. And finally, even if it were formed, an anti-Iranian Arab coalition would be powerless to check Iran's power.
Even though the summit at Annapolis weakens the US's position vis-à-vis Iran, it might still make sense for the Bush and Rice to support Palestinian statehood if doing so enhanced public support for the administration. But the opposite is occurring. Bush and Rice's seeming obsession with Palestinian statehood is being criticized from all sides of the aisle.
So then there is no good excuse for the Bush administration's decision to embrace the Palestinians at Israel's expense. It all comes down to Bush and Rice not thinking through the consequences of their moves.
It is a singular tragedy that Israel's elected leaders are too weak to make them understand that by harming Israel, they are harming the United States and making fools of themselves.
By Caroline B. Glick