Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense," cried Mr Sharon. "It is unacceptable. Israel will not be another Czechoslovakia."Sharon of course was comparing Bush to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who sacrificed Czechoslovakia to Hitler in 1938. Sadly almost six years after Sharon made that statement that angered the US President, both Bush and Sharon's successor Ehud Omert ignore the fact that war is on Israel's doorstep.They are also projecting Fatah head Abbas as a peacemaker despite the fact that he has been nothing of the sort. Olmert and Bush have both been competing for the title Ms. Neville Chamberlain 2007.
Dennis Ross, the former senior American Middle East peace negotiator, says he thinks "there is a risk of war" between
and Israel this summer. Syria
In an exclusive telephone interview with Ynetnews before next week's Conference on the Future of the Jewish People in Jerusalem, Ross said that "nobody has made any decision (about going to war), but the Syrians are positioning themselves for war."
The ex-State Department official criticized the Bush administration for being "tough rhetorically and soft practically" on
, saying that "we have reached the worst of all worlds. The Syrians don't see what they have to lose by not changing their behavior and they don't see what they would gain by changing their behavior. Damascus
has rearmed Hizbullah to the teeth – there should be a price to pay for that," Ross insisted, pointing out that the Bush administration had failed to implement its own Syria Accountability Act. He said the Syria and US Europeshould aim to "squeeze the Syrian economy" and use a policy of "sticks before carrots" in its dealings with . Damascus
As far as
's relations with Israel were concerned, Ross said that Syria had "its own ways of communications" with Jerusalem , and that not talking with Damascus only increased the chance of war while "if you talk, then that reduces the chance of war." Syria
'Fatah has to change'
Ross also warned of the dangers to
following Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip. "I don't share the view (of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert) that we have a new opportunity… there should be a new sense of urgency." Israel
The competition between Fatah and Hamas "is very important. If Hamas takes over then it (the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) becomes a religious conflict.
has a huge stake in the nature of this conflict." Israel
Fatah will only remain in charge of the
West Bankif it changed, said Ross, noting that it had lost the Palestinian Authority elections because it had lost the confidence of the Palestinian people. "It has to end the image and reality of its corruption… It has to show it can deliver on a better life for Palestinians and achieve Palestinian national aspirations. If it doesn't, it will lose in the West Bank."
Ross said the onus was also on Fatah to deliver in terms of fighting terrorism. "If the security situation does not change, all the fine words will be for nothing. There has to be coordination between
and Fatah, but Fatah has to deliver." Israel
The former diplomat said he thought the
and Tony Blair, the Quartet's new US Middle Eastenvoy, could help facilitate the strengthening of Palestinian institutions, but stressed "we're going to have see leadership from Fatah."
The Bush administration, he said, should be focused on "the 18 months they have left to ensure that Fatah is in a better situation vis-à-vis Hamas."
Ross also criticized the Bush administration for its passivity during
's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. He said Israel should have made it a priority to have tried to coordinate the withdrawal with Fatah, so that it was not just a case of Washington leaving Israel "and throwing the keys over the fence." Gaza
Ross, the author of the recently published "Statecraft: and How to Restore
's Standing in the World", also said that the West had to ratchet up the sanctions against America to stop its nuclear program. Iran
"We have slow-motion diplomacy matched against their fast-paced nuclear development," he said, arguing that
Europewas not applying enough economic pressure "to get the attention of the Iranian leadership".
While he doubted that economic sanctions would deter Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he said others in the Iranian leadership would take notice and work towards changing the country's policy.
Conference for the Future of the Jewish People
The chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, Ross will be in
next week for the Conference for the Future of the Jewish People, which the JPPPI has organized. Jerusalem
He said the aim of the conference was "to create a different type of conversation" between Israeli and Diaspora leaders and to identify the priorities that the Jewish world had to face. A third aim of the conference, he said, was to create an ongoing set of discussions to see how its recommendations could be implemented.