Divining the News (DTN)

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Olmert hits back in spat with U.S. over remarks on UN Gaza truce vote – updated

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Why the public spat? There must be deeper rumblings inside…. Inside the washington Israel nexus … or it is considered a meaningless red herring to disguise other war plans: Lebanon, Iran …

First Juancole’s quote on the subject, fuller text at end of post:

As Daniel Levy, who had been a Labor Party adviser on peace negotiations, told The Los Angeles Times’s Paul Richter:
‘ This is terrible for the United States . . . This confirms every assumption they have in the Arab world about the tail wagging the dog. . . . It’s a story you’re likely to hear quoted there for years to come.” Levy also accused Olmert of “unparalleled arrogance.”. . .”There are some things you don’t say, even in Ashkelon, even in Hebrew . . . ”

Olmert hits back in spat with U.S. over remarks on UN Gaza truce vote

Ehud Olmert’s bureau maintained on Wednesday that the outgoing prime minister had correctly described moves that led to a United Nations resolution on a truce in Gaza, despite a United States rejection of his account, Israel Radio reported.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday flatly rejected Olmert’s assertion Monday that he had convinced the Bush administration to abstain from last week’s resolution calling for an immediate truce between Israel and Hamas in the coastal strip.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also denied that the abstention embarrassed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

McCormack said the comments attributed to Olmert “are wholly inaccurate as to describing the situation, just 100-percent, totally, completely not true” and suggested that the Israeli government might want to clarify or correct the record.

Olmert said Monday that Rice had been embarrassed by orders from President George W. Bush to abstain from voting on the cease-fire resolution that she was negotiating. Olmert said he had called Bush – and interrupted him at an event in Philadelphia – to ensure the United States did not vote for it.      Source

From Juancole

Why did Olmert spill the beans on his backroom maneuvering against Rice? It is a very damaging thing that he said. As Daniel Levy, who had been a Labor Party adviser on peace negotiations, told The Los Angeles Times’s Paul Richter:
‘ This is terrible for the United States . . . This confirms every assumption they have in the Arab world about the tail wagging the dog. . . . It’s a story you’re likely to hear quoted there for years to come.” Levy also accused Olmert of “unparalleled arrogance.”. . .”There are some things you don’t say, even in Ashkelon, even in Hebrew . . . ”

The likelihood is that Olmert was stung by severe criticism of his government for allowing the UNSC cease-fire resolution to be passed. His Kadima Party is in a neck and neck race with the even more hard line and far rightwing Likud Party, with elections to be held on February 10. Presumably Olmert was trying to deflect the Likudniks’ charges that Kadima was inept or impotent, and to improve the standing of his would-be successor, Tzipi Livni (now the Foreign Minister).

Olmert is having to step down as prime minister because of a corruption scandal that blew up in his face and made him look petty and greedy. As a mediocre politician with an over-sized ego, he doesn’t have many opportunities left to try to rehabilitate his reputation. If he pushed W. around for Israel’s sake while she warred with the Hamas terrorists (his way of thinking), then maybe that would take some of the edge off his unseemly money-grubbing and massive list of failures, which include the 2006 Lebanon War.

Finally we come to the really big mystery. If the substance of what Olmert said is correct, even if he got some details wrong, then why in the world did Bush listen to him? Bush is outgoing and faces no new elections. His party cannot benefit or suffer with the Israel lobbies from a decision he took in relative secrecy since it won’t even face another election for 2 years, by which time this Gaza war will be completely forgotten.

Why in the world would Bush over-rule the US Secretary of State, for the sake of Olmert, in the midst of delicate negotiations with European and Arab allies? Here are the only possibilities I can think of:

1. Bush is as dumb as he looks and just agrees with the last person he spoke to.

2. Bush hates it when the roar of cannon dies down, and is a sadist who enjoys prolonging war far too much to ever actively back a ceasefire.

3. Olmert has something over Bush. I remember that Bush had taken on Sharon in September of 2001, calling for a Palestinian state and ordering Sharon to stop colonizing the West Bank. Sharon was so furious that he compared Israel’s situation to that of Czechoslovakia in 1938, when the rest of Europe let Hitler grab part of it. But by spring of 2002 Bush was bending over backward to please the Likud. What changed? Something did. There is a mystery to be explained here. I only point out that along with the previous two explanations, this one would make sense of otherwise baffling behavior on Bush’s part.

Precisely because his overly frank speech raises these sorts of questions, I expect Olmert to deny the entire address, and then it will be expunged from the public record and never spoken of again.

In any case, this slippage of the veil over the way US foreign policy is being dictated by a foreign country reinforces the need for a Peace PAC or ‘For America’ PAC to counter-act the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is obviously way too powerful for Israel’s own good. J-Street and Brit Tzedik Ve Shalom and Tikkun and other liberal Jewish-American organizations are trying to do the right thing here. Whereas AIPAC gets plenty of help from the evangelicals, the rest of us are letting down the majority of the Jewish community that supports the peace process by not helping it lobby on this issue.

That resolution Olmert tried to spike means that his government’s continued war on Gaza (he ordered 60 airstrikes on Monday through early Tuesday) is even more illegal than the whole enterprise was to begin with.

posted by Juan Cole @ 1/13/2009

http://www.juancole.com/2009/01/israeli-pm-ehud-olmert-claims-to-be.html

Tipofthehat: http://middeno.wordpress.com

Written by morris

January 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Gaza, israel

Tagged with , , , , , ,

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