On the eve of President Bush’s major address to the country regarding a new Iraq war strategy and a trip to the region by Secretary of State Condi Rice, Israel’s Prime Minister has reiterated that he has put “unilateralist” steps on the shelf. This is important (even though PM Olmert chose an interview with Chinese press to make the statement).
While it seems that last month’s Baker-Hamilton report is gathering dust alongside many prior commissions of Washington wise men, that report did indeed urge a new US push for “solving” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Additionally, some leading congressional Democrats preemptively positioning themselves to oppose any proposal by the President to “surge” new US troops into Iraq are stating that a military surge is not what is needed, rather the situation demands a “smart surge,” a “surge in diplomacy” — which, again, could revive a new US push on Israel & the Palestinians — as called for in an NYT op ed last week by Brent Scowcroft, endorsed with a little too much alacrity by the IPF on the Times’ letters page. As Washington continues to struggle over Mideast policy, clear statements from Prime Minister Olmert which put the spotlight on the continuing violence committed by the Palestinians and the onus for action on their side will remain critical.