The opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing was initially rated a spectacular success. However it now turns out that lots of smoke and mirrors were used to introduce an air of present reality where none really existed.
The angelic voice of 9 years old Lin Miaoke was not hers but the recorded voice of another 7 year old girl rejected because of her appearance. A large number of the spectacular fireworks were computer generated to achieve maximum visual impact for the billions watching the ceremonies throughout the world.
Even the visual reality of the brotherhood of man represented by competitors from over 200 countries marching into the vast stadium for the opening was soon to be shattered by the outbreak of war between Georgia and Russia and two new terrorist attacks in the Xinjiang province of host nation China by a separatist movement seeking to establish an independent Islamic state there.
The feeling of reality following the announcement of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal to eventually cede to the PA 93% of the West Bank and Gaza plus an additional slice of Israel equal to another 5.5% of the disputed territories was also thrown to the wind following its abrupt rejection by the Palestinian Authority (PA)
Mr. Olmert had appropriately made his long awaited offer during the two week period of the Olympic Games when universal goodwill is supposed to be at its highest. In doing so he hoped to resolve the long running marathon between Arab and Jewish competitors each striving to win the race for sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza.
This was to be Mr Olmert’s final - and hopefully triumphant - attempt to secure a gold medal before his announced resignation as Prime Minister takes effect at some unspecified date after September 17.
Mr Olmert’s decisive movement out of the blocks was halted in its tracks when Ahmed Abdel Rahman - an aide to PA President Abbas – protested that the PA had not heard the starter’s gun:
“We haven’t officially heard about the plan from official Israeli leaders. All what [sic] we hear about are just media balloons to show that Israel is serious in the peace process”(Xinhua, August 12)
More balloons - and a prelude to the fireworks that were soon to follow – came with the response of PA negotiator Saeb Erekat who told AFP:
“These are half truths used by Israelis as a test balloon so they can blame the Palestinian Authority should the negotiations fail.”
This had been a poor start to what had promised to be “the race of the century” especially after “a senior Israeli official” said the PA had been given preliminary maps of the proposed borders. Someone in the PA had dropped the baton and no one there obviously wanted to be held responsible.
The mooted plan was rejected by the PA within hours of it being leaked in the media - setting a new world record for the fastest rejection by the PA of any Israeli proposal made over the last 15 years.
Saeb Erekat led the cheerleaders’ chorus telling AFP:
“We are not a bazaar. We want a complete Israeli withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem and agreement on all the final status questions.”
Yet another new world record had now been set for the length of time the Arabs had consistently and unreservedly maintained this same identical demand since 1967.
Nabil Abu Rudainah - another Abbas spokesman - was equally as vociferous telling WAFA news that the Olmert proposal showed “a lack of seriousness” and was “a waste of time”.
The city in which the handshaking, flag raising and closing ceremony was to ultimately take place - Jerusalem - was not even dealt with in Mr Olmert’s proposal since the publication of any details dealing with its disposition was deemed to be too thorny an issue to appear in the official program.
Both Mr Olmert and Mr Abbas appear to be like two losers rowing against each other in a repechage heat which neither is going to win. Like the Australian eight they are rudderless and drifting down the rowing course to nowhere.
Mr Abbas - already on his high horse before the Olmert proposal - has failed miserably to clear the first hurdle faced by him in responding to the Olmert initiative.
The coaches and support teams sitting on the sidelines - including President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, President Sarkozy, Prime Minister Putin, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Quartet Representative Tony Blair - must be tearing out their hair at the outright rejection of the Olmert plan by the PA.
However their frustration should be tempered by the realisation that the entire negotiating process that followed President Bush’s enunciation of his Roadmap 6 years ago was also nothing but smoke and mirrors. These negotiations were always destined to failure from the date of their inception for the very reasons articulated in Mr Erekat’s above mantra that has been standard Arab fare for the last 40 years.
Any suggestion that there could be some “give and take” in the division of the West Bank and Gaza between Israel and the PA has again been exposed as pure folly and sheer nonsense.
Mr Erekat’s perennial message was further rammed home by another advisor to Mr Abbas - Nabil Abu Rudainah - who told Arab News:
“The Israeli proposal is not acceptable. The Palestinian side will only accept a Palestinian state with territorial continuity, with holy Jerusalem as its capital, without settlements, and with the June 4, 1967 boundaries.”
Attempts by the international community will no doubt be made to change the PA’s game plan but they will prove to be a complete waste of time.
The closing ceremony for the Roadmap had been performed once again and no amount of doublespeak could disguise this incontrovertible fact.
The Olympic Games motto -“One World, One Dream” - seems to have run a distant last in the West Bank and Gaza. The time for playing games is over. It is now time to get serious about what is to happen there.