Whom does the Egyptian government support among the Palestinians? Hamas, despite their recent bickering. So how would progress on negotiations with the Palestinian Authority soften Egypt’s attitude? Is President Mursi going to say: wow, that treaty with Israel is worthwhile because there is hope of a deal with the Palestinians that will ensure a non-Islamist government in Palestine and help to guarantee the existence of a Zionist state in the region?
No. He would say that such progress would indicate a betrayal by the PA, and make it harder for the Islamist cause to flourish. Hence, any such deal must be stopped. Mr. Rhodes, let me explain. It was Mubarak who perhaps benefited from an advancing peace process.
Mursi hates the idea.
I think there’s an opportunity, frankly, for there to be a deeper source of support for peace broadly across the region if there can be progress.
I will give Rhodes the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that he does not believe one word of that sentence.
Again, Obama’s trip is not about this issue. Yet by keeping the mythology alive about the state of the conflict, the Obama administration does another disservice to Israeli interests and American understanding of the region.
Oh, and let’s not forget something else: Rhodes didn’t say that the PA, whose leaders Obama will also meet, must show Israel that it’s serious about peace.
Supposedly, making peace is a one-way street in which the burden is always on Israel. Yet Israel’s behavior is not due to stubbornness, paranoia, or ideology.
It is based on experience.
Footnote: Of course I am aware that there have been circumstances in which specific Arab factors were responsive to Israeli concessions. To act, Arab leaders — autocrats or otherwise — must believe they can get away with defying Islamists, who will declare anyone wanting to make peace with Israel as enemies of Allah. That was most obviously true of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Mursi’s ideological compatriots killed Sadat.
That graphically sums up who is on which side, and why Rhodes’ — and hence the Obama administration’s — formulations are absurd.