Imagine the consternation among the career staffers at Israel’s foreign ministry after their new boss, Avigdor Lieberman, said that Israel was not bound by prior agreements and explicitly mentioned Annapolis. It was hard enough for them to adjust a few years ago, when Tzipe Livni started to sound more like a Peace Now activist, ca 1988, than a Likudnik. But the challenge of speaking to the rest of the world about Lieberman is much more daunting.
The new, recommended response is a rather bold attempt at diversionary spin, as spelled out by Itamar Eichner in today’s Yediot Acharonot. Here is a translation from Israel News Today (No link available. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org):
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s rejection of Annapolis has created the sense in the world that Israel is not interested in peace with the Palestinians. In order to deal with this contention, the Foreign Ministry yesterday adopted a new PR line for the Lieberman era: all the embassies in the world received a background paper showing “the series of Palestinian missed opportunities for peace.”
The message stresses that the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity and it reviews Palestinian rejectionism from 1939 to the Olmert government. For example, the series of missed opportunities refers to turning down the partition plan of 1947, the Arab League’s rejection of Israel’s hand extended in peace after the Six-Day War, the Palestinian rejection of the autonomy idea proposed in the Camp David agreements and the acts of terror after disengagement.
The document notes that the Palestinians basically turned down all the peace plans and that throughout their history they have been waging a battle against Israel more than they are interested in the establishment of a state of their own.
As misdirection goes, that is actually rather daring, because it is part of a magic trick that even Houdini could not pull off. There is nothing positive that can be said about Israel’s official positions right now, so let’s go as far back as 1939, shall we? That’ll keep ’em occupied! For that matter, we could always go back even further, to 1919 or so, and trot out the accounts of Palestinian leaders who refused to meet with Chaim Weizmann when he wanted to talk about sharing the land. And we’ve got 1892, when some of their leaders met with the Turkish sultan and complained about Jewish emigration. Hey, we’ve got lots of material to work with…Now bring out that big cabinet with the secret escape hatch! And the rabbit!