Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dennis Ross' Way Forward in the West Bank

Yesterday's WaPo featured a Dennis Ross essay that suggested a way forward for the "peace process": allowing Palestinians access to the stone quarries located in what the Oslo Accords designated Area C in the West Bank - areas that remain under control of the IDF.  Such a move would perhaps boost the West Bank economy, as well as signal to the Palestinians that the current Israeli government ultimately has good intentions toward them and indeed looks forward to a negotiated overall settlement.

I'd be curious to hear reactions of current GOP presidential contenders (perhaps "pretenders" describes them more accurately) Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.  In Perry's hyper-Christian view, God has already given the West Bank to Israel; in Santorum's, the IDF's control of the West Bank is akin to the US's subjugation of Texas and the American Southwest.

But what's especially telling in Ross's suggestions is that nowhere does he allude to the problem of Israeli settlement building (and settler violence) in the West Bank.  Unless my re-scan of the text missed it, Ross nowhere even mentions the word "settlement."  At least Elliot Abrams is honest (or at least open) enough (in what seems to me an idiotic take on the issue of the West Bank) to posit that Jewish settlements are not the real problem.  But Ross seems to ignore them altogether, at least here.

Much to America's benefit, Dennis Ross is away from Foggy Bottom and the halls of the DoS.  Unfortunately, he is once again safely ensconced at the Washingon Institute for Middle East Affairs (AIPAC's think-tank, for all intents and purposes), where he likely possesses an even bigger megaphone.  At a beer garden in Prague several years ago, I witnessed a rowdy, inebriated German tourist pouring beer into a tuba-player's instrument (as he was playing it).  Would that someone could do the same (metaphorically speaking) for Ross's megaphone.

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