Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Former Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami Nixes the US Peace Conference

In an opinion piece published in Yediot today (and not yet translated into English for ynetnews.com, if it will be at all), former minister Shlomo Ben-Ami criticizes the Bush-Rice peace initiative. Though calling it "logical" because it cuts out the intermediate steps and focuses on the final status, he said that it would not work because it excludes Hamas and the Saudis from the negotiations. He also implies that the US accepts the Israeli perspective and that until the US becomes an honest broker, no headway can be made via Washington.

Of especial interest was Ben Ami's remark that Palestinian militias will not lay down their arms until they see a Palestinian state rise on the 67 borders. And that if the US wants to bolster Palestinian moderates, the way to do so is to give them that state.

Of course, all the above is obvious -- what is interesting is Ben Ami's evolution since his party was voted out of power, and he left the government. While everybody talks about the shift in Israel to the right following the breakdown of Oslo, Ben Ami has gone to the left. Sure, he still believes in the Clinton peace plan, and so that doesn't really put him on the left. Still, if anybody wants to see how reasonable Ben Ami can sound, read his post-Oslo book, Scars of Wars, Wounds of Peace. And if you don't have time for that, his Democracy Now "debate" with Norm Finkelstein, available on Norm's website here, looks almost like a lovefest. (In my opinion, it is a must read for Finkelstein-bashers -- you see how reasonable and temperate Finkelstein can be. Actually, I think he was a little too easy on Ben Ami, but that is the subject for another post.)

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