Israeli FM Peres and his Stillborn Ceasefire
Undismayed by the linguistic “misunderstanding” that left Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak red-faced after his Palestinian-Israel ceasefire goof Sunday April 29 – Peres blames the Arabic translator although TV footage shows the two men conversing alone – the Israeli foreign minister went on pushing his non-existent ceasefire in New York two days later. While Palestinian-Israel clashes escalated hour by hour at home in a lethal spiral, Peres assured UN secretary Kofi Annan Monday that the two parties had come to an understandingover a ceasefire. Missing only was “the fine print”, as he put it. Back in Cairo, the embarrassed Egyptian president attempted to explain the mishap to his parliament Monday by claiming he had been misled by the Israeli foreign minister, who showed him a “secret document” attesting to an Israeli-Palestinian accord as the basis for a ceasefire.
Touring the Jordan Rift Valley at about the same time, Israeli defense minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer declared angrily: “There is no ceasefire! The war goes on!”
The Israeli foreign minister is now heading for Washington for meetings scheduled Wednesday with secretary of state Collin Powell and Thursday with President George W. Bush. In the US capital, prime minister Ariel Sharon had the foresight to post a watchdog with whom he advised the President to double check on every Peres statement purported to be in his name.
That may not be enough to halt Peres’s independent drive to rehabilitate the Palestinian leader and talk the Middle East back to the 1993 Oslo peace climate. In an interview with Israel TV Channel One Monday night, he was asked whether he would ask the US administration to receive Yasser Arafat in the White House. His reply: “After all, the problem is not Arafat, but terrorism…”
That comment coincided – or clashed – with the US state department’s annual “Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000” report which not only quotes Israel’s accusations that the Palestinian Authority and Arafat’s own group, the Fatah, takes part in terrorist attacks against Israeli targets. It also cites increasing Iranian support for the Lebanese Hizballah, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad in their violent campaign to undermine the Middle East Peace process.
They will also have noticed that Hamas and Islamic bombers walk free, despite Arafat’s promises to prosecute and jail them, that the mortar barrage continues regardless of Arafat’s promise to Omri Sharon to halt it and that bombs prematurely detonated in Palestinian-ruled areas in the last 24 hours were destined for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
debkafile‘s Washington sources are not surprised that American leaders, who have a source or two of their own to report on what is really going on, are in no hurry to make time for the Israeli foreign minister. They let him cool his heels in New York for a couple of days, which may stretch further.