Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The curly-haired perfume peddler has another go

The last time we visited Reuters correspondent Crispian (curly-haired) Balmer (peddler of aromatic resins), he was exhausting the "D" entries in his thesaurus in an effort to sell us on the notion that the Palestinians are positively desperate for their own state -- even as he failed to acknowledge the simple truth that the Palestinians could have their purportedly longed-for state tomorrow if they would only accept UN resolution 181 which formally created a Palestinian Arab state and a Jewish state 63 years ago.

Balmer now tries his hand at some "analysis", Reuters parlance for an op-ed, dredging up a host of Reuters boilerplate propaganda in the process.  Focusing on the question of whether Israel's relationship with the United States is on the rocks, Balmer cites the reaction of Palestinian Arabs and Middle East diplomats to the incentives reportedly promised to the Israelis in exchange for their agreement to extend a building moratorium in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"):
The Palestinians scoff at the idea that the United States might be losing its ardor for Israel, saying the U.S. promise of inducements, including $3 billion worth of fighter jets, is evidence of the Jewish state's privileged status in Washington.
The enticements have also raised eyebrows in the United States, with analysts doubting the wisdom of offering Israel incentives to get it to introduce a temporary halt to settlement building that is deemed to be illegal by the World Court.
Note how Balmer tosses in as a red herring, the opinion of the World Court, something the analysts he cites do not actually mention and an opinion that is entirely advisory and therefore non-binding on the issue of the legality of Jewish settlements (League of Nations and United Nations resolutions permit Jews to settle anywhere in the original Palestine Mandate).

Balmer then rehashes the argument made back in April by his colleague at Reuters, Bernd Debusmann, that resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict is essential to American military interests in the Middle East and beyond:
At a deeper level, the on-going sense of uncertainty in Israeli circles is fueled by evolving U.S. military objectives.
General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, launched a debate in March when he said that Israeli-Palestinian tensions had had an "enormous" impact in the Muslim world where his troops were based.
Petraeus said the Middle East peace process had to keep moving forward to help the U.S. military position -- an assertion quickly challenged by Israeli rightists who denied any such linkage.
His stance explains why Obama has put enormous emphasis on restarting the stalled peace talks despite obvious pessimism on both the Palestinian and Israeli side, not to mention at home.
As we noted at the time, Debusmann conveniently omitted several items Patraeus indicated were far more critical to American interests than resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict, including for example, preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons which as we now know, thanks to WikiLeaks, has also been the priority for the Arabs themselves.

Moreover, Obama had been pushing madly for a Palestinian state long before Patraeus filed his report in March of this year (Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was the first foreign leader Obama phoned after taking office, and pressure from the White House to freeze Jewish settlements began publicly in May of 2009).  Thus, Balmer's suggested linkage between Patraeus' testimony and Obama's obsessive drive for a Palestinian state is specious.

The larger point, that US-Israeli relations may be suffering, is clear enough but the reason is also clear: this is the first American administration in over 40 years that has held peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Arabs hostage to an Israeli concession to completely halt building in its capital city.  A strategy that has failed to bring a Palestinian state and simultaneously alienated 97 percent of the Israeli public.

Now, that's something to fret about.

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