It will be, quite frankly, a relief, if I will now be able to do these postings without having to mention Condoleezza Rice every time, now that her visit here is finished.
At present she is saying the conference may be delayed until December. And — will wonders never cease! — at the airport before leaving she actually made a statement strongly supportive of Israel:
"If, in fact, they’re going to be asked to withdraw from the West Bank at some point, what does that mean for the security of Israel? That’s a fair question. It really is. And so one of the things that I take back is that we are going to need to spend a lot of time thinking about how this [Palestinian] state, if we are fortunate enough to be able to bring it into being, how it is going to relate to the security of its neighbor and vice versa.
"They [Israel] had the withdrawal from Lebanon and it brought instability in Lebanon. They had the withdrawal from the Gaza, and look what happened in Gaza."
How different her tone is in this statement. She may have absorbed some important messages at long last.
I’m hearing that the US recognizes (and Rice’s statement certainly seems to confirm this) that Israel is going to have to stay in Judea and Samaria for a long time.
Now that she’s leaving, National security adviser Stephen Hadley is coming to pick up where Rice left off. But it’s highly unlikely that he will accomplish anything she didn’t. She will be back by the beginning of November.
Reportedly, Israel is now prepared to mention the core issues in a joint document. Mention them, not provide the solutions.
Now the good news is this: A majority of the members of the Knesset have signed a petition saying that Jerusalem must remain undivided.
Let me clarify immediately: This is not binding. What Olmert requires to proceed is the approval of his government, i.e., his ministers, drawn from his coalition.
However Yisrael Katz (Likud) initiated this petition to demonstrate that Olmert has no mandate to negotiate Jerusalem’s future, and this can have a powerful effect. If it doesn’t slow down Olmert himself, it may unsettle the US sufficiently so that there is greater hesitation about proceeding.
It is worth noting that 30 members of the coalition, and 13 members of Kadima itself, including Tzachi Hanegbi, Chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, signed. This lack of support within Olmert’s own ranks is telling.
What was also significant to me is that Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu, did not sign, although two members of his party did.
Hopefully on to other matters in the next postings…