Under Saudi auspices in the holy city of Mecca, overlooking the sacred Kaaba stone, Palestinian Fatah and Hamas leaderships finally reached a power-sharing deal last week. The deal came 13 months after the Hamas victory in Palestinian legislative elections, and the party's subsequent inability to form a functioning government in the face of an international boycott, Arab opposition, and an ongoing standoff with President Abbas and his Fatah movement.
Barely two weeks old, the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report is viewed by many as having already suffered crib death. Those who shaped the initial disastrous policy in Iraq and the broader Middle East have waged a tenacious and effective counter-attack against the 79 Report recommendations. Somehow, we have now reached a place where the most likely next step on Iraq will be a combination of troop escalation ("surge" in language-massaged neocon speak) and an even more stubborn refusal to talk with the country's neighbors, notably Syria and Iran.
On May 23, the House of Representatives passed Resolution 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, by a vote of 361 to 37. Nothing remarkable about that. But the passage of H.R. 4681 had all the ingredients of the worrying way in which the Israel-Palestine conflict has played out in American politics and policy for the past decade or more.
When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Washington in early June, one might have expected him to be heralded as the poster boy for “freedom's march” in the Middle East -- democratically elected, a reformer, and a recognized man of peace. Yet after the meeting, Palestinian delegation members spoke to me in terms of only a “small success.”