No Agreement of Principles between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be presented to the fall 2007 “Peace Conference,” Olmert informed the ministers of his party today. Instead a joint declaration of intentions is to be expected. His statement comes on the eve of Condoleeza Rice’s visit to check up on the local progress for the conference; in effect, preempting the visit. The fall conference is now likely to end up on the ever growing heap of Middle Eastern peace plans.
It is now obvious just how much the Hamas putsch in Gaza and the formation of two competing Palestinian governments had weakened not only Hamas but also Abbas. Hamas had excluded itself, and is now not party to any political process; Gaza now is a site of mostly humanitarian concerns. But Abbas also does not have the authority and power to get Olmert to drop Israel's habitual recalcitrance to agree to final status conditions. Olmert is interested only in normalizing relations with the Ramallah government, and “normalization” has meant the preservation of the political status quo and continued Israeli colonization. Obviously such status quo is not tenable. Maybe it is time to rephrase the statement attributed to Samuel Johnson, and say “The Road to Hell is Paved with Bad Intentions.”