Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State has put her reputation on the line by personally making sure that Israel does not renege on the pullout from Gaza, or instigate trouble by baiting the hotheads among the Palestinians. Even though she urged both sides to honour the peace pledges, there is no doubt she has directed the subtle warning principally at Ariel Sharon.
A couple of more factors in the Palestinians’ favour are:
(1) A second term President Bush is less beholden to the Israeli, Jewish and pro-Israeli lobbies.
(2) The American quagmire in Iraq and the growing concern for assured supplies of affordable oil in the face of a thirsty China have made President Bush more conscious of the need to engage the Arab world in a friendlier manner. Undoubtedly it would have been a strategic policy developed by either Colin Powell and continued by Rice, or by Rice herself.
Rice obviously doesn’t trust Sharon, being aware the wily old fox has a habit of twisting and turning things to Israel’s favour even when the Israelis have been the aggressors.
If Mahmoud Abbas plays it right, Palestinians may actually see some hope for an independent state, one which has been denied to them for more than half a century. There are talks also of a US$ 3 billion aid package for the Palestinians to develop the Gaza enclave. His job is to keep a rein on the hotheads so that Sharon won’t be able to whisper the T-word to Washington.
Let’s keep an eye out on Sharon’s behaviour and activities to see whether the fox will play his usual monkey tricks, again.