So far, there hasn’t been a new “peace agreement” between Israel and the Palestinians. That’s fine with me, since peace in the region has little or nothing to do with “peace agreements,” and as long as Hamas, Hezbollah and others are trying to murder Israelis, any “peace agreement” with the Palestinian Authority means nothing.
In the media, though–like the State Department–the absence of a wholly fictitious peace agreement is critical. Moreover, from this rather weird perspective, the absence of such an agreement isn’t caused by the fact that many Palestinians haven’t given up on their desire to kill the Jews; rather, it is a personal failing on the part of President Bush. Hence the headline: “Bush has missed targets on Middle East peace.” The AP’s article is by White House correspondent Terence Hunt:
President Bush has a faulty calendar and questionable optimism when it comes to the Middle East. By his original reckoning, an elusive peace should have happened three years ago and a democratic Palestinian state should now be living in harmony with longtime enemy Israel.
That was the hopeful timetable prescribed in the 2003 Mideast strategy known as the “road map.”
Of course, it did not happen.
Thinking back on the last five years, I would say that the main obstacles to peace have been constant rocket attacks launched by Hamas and other radical Palestinians, countless would-be, and occasionally successful, suicide bombers, and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and other provocations by Hezbollah. The AP, however, sees events in a more neutral fashion: tensions “flare,” violence “erupts,” bloodshed “brings grief.” Only with respect to casualties–one might assume they are all innocent–can the AP distinguish between the parties:
Instead of a historic reconciliation, tensions flared, more violence erupted and bloodshed brought grief and deepened generations-old hatreds, particularly on the Palestinian side, which suffered disproportionately heavy casualties.
Actually, though, the AP doesn’t have much interest in the Israelis and Palestinians when it can blame the lack of a “peace agreement” on the Bush administration:
So, Bush reset his timetable and promised to get engaged in the tedious peacemaking process that he largely avoided during most of his presidency. Now, he leaves for the Mideast Tuesday to try again. Undaunted by the missed deadline, he already had set an ambitious target for an agreement about 250 days from now, reaching for a peace deal that has eluded other administrations that invested more time, energy and prestige than his administration has.
With his approval ratings near historic lows, Bush is struggling with a sickly economy, an unpopular war in Iraq and efforts by Iran to spread its influence. The seizure of western Beirut by Shiite Hezbollah fighters backed by Syria and Iran humiliated the American- backed government in Lebanon last week and posed more troubles for the White House.
The AP quotes a Mideast expert to the effect that President Bush is not pressuring the two sides to reach an agreement:
Daniel Levy, another Mideast expert, said Bush is not pressuring the parties to get an agreement.
“I don’t think either side feels that there is a president here or a team that would crack heads if necessary and carry this over the finish line,” said Levy, Mideast analyst for The Century Foundation and a former Israeli peace negotiator. He envisions Bush eventually giving a speech saying that the United States will not try to impose a settlement and that he is handing over a serious set of negotiations to his successor.
If that’s true, it’s a good thing.