Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Rather odd situation going on at the U.N., as the U.S. proposes a security council resolution that would condemn Israel's demolition of Arafat's compound:

Seeking to avert a confrontation with Arab states over the siege, the Americans offered a draft resolution calling on Israel to "cease measures in and around Ramallah," saying that they "aggravate the situation" and that they "do not contribute to progress on comprehensive Palestinian civil and security reforms."
This is odd, considering that the current administration has all but given Israel carte blanche in conducting their own war against Palestinian terrorists (freedom fighters, militants, "islamists", whatever) and I had hardly expected that position to change. Indeed, that Stratfor analysis I had mentioned earlier had said that the U.S. would probably give Israel an even freer hand in exchange for the promise that Iraqi attacks on Israel would not be responded to. Even if one considers the current Israeli actions against Arafat to be an overreaction, overreaction isn't exactly unwelcome for the Bush administration.

On the other hand, the old tone hasn't completely disappeared, and sheds some light, I think:

The American draft, presented during an emergency session of the Council today to counter a Syrian proposal, cites two Palestinian groups by name, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, holding them responsible for the recent attacks in Israel. The proposal would require that they be treated as terrorists under a Security Council resolution passed last year to condemn the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

It was the first time that the United States had sought to equate, in the formal terms of a Security Council measure, the Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel with the terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001.
As the NY Times article notes, this is partially a tactical move to ensure that a competing Syrian resolution doesn't get passed, but it's still worth looking at. It's interesting not for what it includes, but what it doesn't include, and what it doesn't include is Fatah. The coupling of these two positions together might mean that the administration is rethinking its policy on Arafat, or at least not quite as willing to label Arafat himself as a terrorist as they were, say, three months ago.

Then again, it might be simply because the U.S. didn't want its proposal to be utterly ignored, or to enjoy the spectacle of having to veto the Syrian proposal, as the article implies. Still, it seems to speak to an administration whose newfound multilateralism is perhaps constraining it more than it had been, or at least an administration that knows that it can't deliberately antagonize other players in the region while it gears up for a war in Iraq whose chief raison d'etre, the lack of weapon inspectors in Iraq, is fast disappearing.

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