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PostSun Oct 21, 2007 6:07 am     Column One: Idle talk, reckless talk    


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Column One: Idle talk, reckless talk

Caroline Glick

Oct. 18, 2007

Apparently US and Israeli leaders think that idle chatter is
risk free. Last week, the Democrats in the US Congress decided
to take on the Ottoman Empire. Acting boldly, the House Foreign
Relations Committee condemned the empire (which ceased to exist
in 1917) for committing genocide against the Armenians in 1915.

The Democrats' goal is clear. They wish to use the Armenian
genocide as a way to embarrass the Bush administration, which
like its predecessors over the past 92 years, has yet to
acknowledge the Armenian genocide. And they have succeeded.

The administration that lobbies and begs the Turks not to invade
Iraqi Kurdistan in response to the terror attacks carried out
inside Turkey by PKK terrorists based in Iraqi Kurdistan; the
administration that lobbies and begs the Turks to continue to
allow US forces to use Incirlik air base to move troops and
materiel into Iraq; the administration that is searching for a
way to build proper relations with a Turkey that has now twice
elected the pro-jihad AKP party to lead it - that administration
has been duly embarrassed.

But the Democrats' petty political achievement has come at a
devastating cost for America. The Democrats' declaration induced
the worst crisis in US-Turkish relations in recent memory.
Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Washington. On
Wednesday, the Turkish parliament overwhelmingly approved an
invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. And Turkish military commanders are
threatening to bar the US from using the air base in Incirlik.

THIS TALE of the consequences of empty rhetoric should serve as
a warning for Israel and the US as the Olmert government moves
forward in its "peace" negotiations with Fatah figurehead
Mahmoud Abbas ahead of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's
planned "peace" conference at Annapolis.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's ability to conduct negations with
Rice and Abbas regarding the partition of Jerusalem, the
surrender of Judea and Samaria and the establishment of an armed
Palestinian state in the areas that Israel vacates owes much to
his coalition partners in Shas and Israel Beiteinu's preference
for empty rhetoric over action.

On Sunday, Shas leader Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai told
Rice that Shas opposes partitioning Jerusalem. Yishai warned
Rice, "If the sides return from [Annapolis] with a signed
document and a done-deal, this could destabilize and end the
tenure of the government."

Given that Rice didn't miss a beat in speaking forcefully of her
ardent commitment to establishing a Jew-free Palestinian state
in Hamas-dominated Gaza, and Hamas-ascendant Judea and Samaria
and Jerusalem, Yishai's statement clearly failed to impress her.

For his part, Avigdor Lieberman's rhetoric is increasingly
incoherent. Last week, after blaming the Left for all of
Israel's woes, Lieberman joined its ranks by calling for a
partition of Jerusalem. It works out that this paragon of
supposedly "hard-line" rightist ideals supports surrendering the
Arab neighborhoods surrounding the Jewish neighborhoods of
Pisgat Ze'ev, Neveh Ya'acov, Ramot, Arnona, Gilo, Armon Hanatziv
and Har Homa to Hamas.

But then this week, Lieberman suddenly remembered that he has
voters to consider. And so Sunday he announced that he opposes
Olmert's attempt to reach an agreement regarding Jerusalem's
partition with Fatah.

LIKE THE Democrats' condemnation of the Ottomans, Lieberman and
Yishai's empty rhetoric targets a domestic audience. And like
the Democrats' condemnation of the Ottoman Empire, while their
statements will have no impact on government policy, the
consequences of those statements for Israel are far reaching and
dangerous.

Yishai and Lieberman talk because they don't want to take the
only step open to them if they truly wish to prevent damage to
the country. That step of course is resignation from the Olmert
government and support for new elections. And Olmert knows this.

It is because he understands their ardent desire to remain in
office that Olmert feels he runs no political risk by
negotiating away Israel's survivability to Abbas. Yishai and
Lieberman's vacuous pronouncements enable Olmert to move forward
toward national capitulation.

Additionally, their empty declarations of opposition to Olmert's
moves lull the public into complacency. They make us believe
that they are curbing Olmert's urge to capitulate and so
mitigating the dangers to the state. But as Olmert's repeated
statements regarding the partition of Jerusalem make clear, as
long as they are inside the government they exert no influence
over him.

Even if Yishai and Lieberman resign in the aftermath of the
conference at Annapolis, their move will come too late to make a
difference. The damage to Israel's security will already have
been wrought. This is clear because even before a date has been
set for the conference, we already know how it will end, if it
is convened, and we already know the basic contours of its
aftermath.

We know with near absolute certainty that the conference will
end in failure. The conference will fail because there is no
offer that Israel can make that Abbas can accept. Abbas, who
doesn't even control his own Fatah terrorists - let alone Hamas
and Islamic Jihad - has no real support among Palestinians. He
already lost the Palestinian elections and Gaza to Hamas. Abbas
cannot accept any offer from Israel after his predecessor,
Yasser Arafat, chose to go to war rather than make peace.

Statements by both Hamas and Fatah leaders over the past several
weeks also make clear what will happen after the summit
collapses. As was the case after the failure of the Camp David
peace conference in July 2000, in the aftermath of the Annapolis
conference, Fatah and Hamas will reunite and the Palestinians
will open a new round of jihad against Israel. And in light of
Egypt's open and stalwart backing of Hamas, and given Hamas's
subservience to Iran, it is impossible to assume that the coming
war will be limited to the Palestinian arena.

Today a rare Right-Left consensus has emerged in Israel which
recognizes that Olmert has no public mandate for making
far-reaching concessions to Abbas. In light of this, it is
argued with some justification that even if Olmert offers Abbas
far-reaching concessions regarding Jerusalem and Judea and
Samaria, he will be unable to implement them. Noting this, many
government and Kadima officials claim that there is no reason
for concern about the talks Olmert is holding with Rice and
Abbas. But this is untrue.

In July 2000, then-prime minister Ehud Barak conducted
negotiations with Arafat at Camp David after his government lost
a no-confidence vote in the Knesset. In the fall of 2000, Barak
conducted further negotiations with Arafat at Taba where he
expanded the concessions he had offered at Camp David. Those
negotiations took place after Barak's government had already
fallen and elections had been called for January 2001.

In December 2000, outgoing US president Bill Clinton presented
his Middle East peace plan, which essentially codified the
concessions Barak offered at Taba. Clinton announced his plan
despite the fact that George W. Bush, who had been elected the
month before, had expressed deep misgivings about the
by-then-defunct Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

When Ariel Sharon and Bush succeeded Barak and Clinton, both
asserted that the Israeli offers at Camp David and Taba and the
Clinton peace plan were no longer on the table. But to their
discredit, neither leader took any steps to translate those
statements into reality. And so today, seven years later,
Barak's offers are being used by Olmert and Abbas as the
starting point for their negotiations. Indeed, according to
Palestinian spokesmen, it was Olmert who insisted on basing
today's negotiations on Barak's offers.

What we learn from this is that offers made by an Israeli
government bereft of both a public mandate and popular support
remain perpetually on the table. As a result, even though Olmert
and Abbas will fail to reach an agreement at Annapolis, the
offers that Olmert will make there will survive long after he
and his government leave office.

All of this demonstrates the dire consequences of Yishai and
Lieberman's preference for idle chatter over action. By
remaining in the government they do two things: They enable
Olmert to participate in a "peace" conference that will lead to
war. And they enable Olmert to place Israel's existence in
long-term jeopardy. If his proposed concessions are ever
implemented, they will render Israel indefensible while enabling
the establishment of a terror state with its capital in
Jerusalem. And even if they are not implemented today, those
concessions will remain on the table and form the basis for
future talks.

YISHAI AND Lieberman are Olmert and Rice's enablers. But it is
Rice and Olmert who lead us down the road to disaster. What
accounts for their reckless behavior?

By any objective standard, Rice has failed in office. On her way
to Israel, she and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited
Moscow, where they were publicly humiliated by Russian President
Vladimir Putin.

Under Rice's stewardship, the US failed to foresee or reckon
with Russia's abandonment of the West. Consequently, today the
US has no coherent policy for contending with the Kremlin. The
same is the case with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, Kim Jung-Il's
North Korea and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran. And this is Rice's
fault.

As the clock ticks toward the end of Bush's time in office, Rice
fears history's impending verdict. And so she seeks a singular
achievement. Like her failed predecessors, she has turned to
Israel. Like so many others before her, Rice hopes to force
Israel to make concessions that will lead to war only after she
is safely ensconced at Stanford University.

In her race to a signing ceremony, Rice ignores the fact that
through her actions she is destroying America's international
credibility. Her genuflection to the Palestinians and the Arab
world as a whole on the one hand and her open hostility and
moral condemnation of Israel on the other destroy US credibility
twice. First, by ignoring all of Bush's previous demands for the
Arabs and the Palestinians to abjure terror and accept the
Jewish state's right to exist, Rice is making clear that
countries will pay no price for supporting terror and jihad.
Second, by running roughshod over Israel, Rice shows that there
is no advantage to be had by being a loyal ally of America.

Then there is Olmert. When not engaged in surrendering Hebron
and Jerusalem to Hamas, Olmert faces his police investigators.
As the subject of three separate official criminal probes,
Olmert's desire to divert attention away from the fact that he
is unfit for office is so great that he is willing to give up
Israel's right to defensible borders and to its capital city.

Like the Democrats in Congress, Yishai and Lieberman demonstrate
the deleterious consequences of empty talk. For their part, Rice
and Olmert show us how reckless talk born of personal arrogance
can sink the ship of state. Both instances show us the deadly
consequences of misused rhetoric. What will it take for these
petty politicians to understand this?

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