Benjamin Netanyahu has finally been given the go-ahead by Israel’s President Shimon Peres to try and form Israel’s next Government. This heralds the next round in the farce that passes for “the peace process” in the Middle East.
The solution to the problem - what to do with the 6% of Palestine that still belongs to no one - needs to take a new direction and Netanyahu intends to do just that.
Gone are most of the old cast - President George Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. They will be replaced by rising new stars President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who will be joined this time round by resurrected 90’s star Netanyahu and former bit player George Mitchell - both of whom have a chance to achieve real fame if they perform better than they did so long ago.
The PLO’s Mahmoud Abbas has just managed to hold on to his leading role but is being challenged by Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh - an enterprising upstart who has already assumed a lot of the lines once spoken exclusively by Abbas.
“Explosive and set to rocket to stardom” could be how his captive audience in Gaza might describe Haniyeh.
Haniyeh’s superstar aspirations have been dealt a blow as Paris, London and New York exclude him from centre stage . He had temporarily gone into hiding last month - to escape his Israeli critics. This followed his disastrous performance in Gaza resulting in his unpopularity increasing even further worldwide. Little has been heard from him since. But no doubt he is soon set to make a comeback. Old actors never die - they only put on different clothes and still act out the same roles.
Lurking in the wings are two understudies for the Arab lead roles - Egypt and Jordan. They could soon find themselves starring on the Gazan and the West Bank stages in a repeat of their unbroken record running performances between 1948-1967. They are presently reluctant to return to the stage so intensive negotiations to get them to sign on the bottom line will be required.
Every actor has his price and the bargaining will be hard. Holding on to power and survival in the global economic downturn are two fertile areas to be explored in concluding successful negotiations to get them back on stage again. The royal patronage afforded by Jordan’s King Abdullah could be just the catalyst to spark a real revival in a pantomime that has sadly lost the plot.
The latest attempt to revamp the tired old Roadmap script will prove to be a waste of time, energy and effort.
The Roadmap - a blockbuster written in 2003 in the best traditions of Hollywood and underwritten by America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - has turned out to be a damp squib despite billions of dollars being spent to help it - and its principal actors - earning a Nobel Peace Prize.
The Arabs wanted 100% of the happy ending and were not prepared to share it with the Jews.
Now that’s not really negotiating - most would call it insanity . But then again nothing has changed in Arab thinking for the last 90 years.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee was not sucked into awarding the much sought after Prize to Bush’s Roadmap script following the disastrous decision in 1994 to award it prematurely to Shimon Peres, Yitzchak, Rabin and Yasser Arafat for their starring performances in the Roadmap’s forerunner - Oslo.
Born to great acclaim in 1993 on the White House stage before a television audience of billions and a host of VIP’s sitting in the front stalls to witness the performance live - Oslo was to disappear some six years later in a welter of recriminations as the temperamental actors spat their dummies and stormed off the stage.
History has now repeated itself with the demise of the Roadmap. However this time the actors have quietly left the stage with no encores as the curtain descended on yet another failed attempt to create a box office success.
The Arab Peace Initiative - written in 2002 and now enthusiastically promoted by the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference - has been touted as the new script to get the show on the road again and the crowds through the turnstiles.
This was made very clear by PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo in a press release to Ma’an News Agency on 12 February when he announced:
"Our options are clear toward the coming Israeli Government. [The PLO] will not deal with any new Israeli Government if it does not respond to the Arab Peace Initiative and halt settlement expansion.
US President Barack Obama, his Middle East Envoy, George Mitchell, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton know full well the obstacles preventing accomplishing a just solution to the establishment of a Palestinian State.
These obstacles were not set up by the Palestinians and we will not accept an alternative economic solution to the political situation.
Anyone who thinks that we, the Palestinians and the Arabs, are out of options - is mistaken “
The Arab Peace Initiative was rejected by Israel five years ago precisely because it mandated Arab sovereign control in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza. It will be rejected again - for the same and many other reasons - not only by Netanyahu but by any new Government eventually formed in Israel.
Until the Arabs agree to divide the West Bank with the Jews, ticket sales to future performances of this ongoing farce will continue to plummet.
President Obama might do well to head off this flop just waiting to happen by introducing a new song (with apologies to Noel Coward) into the next staged production of this long running fiasco:
“Don’t put your plan on the stage dear Yasser Rabbo
Don’t put your plan on the stage
Its a bit of an ugly duckling
You must honestly confess
And the width of the plan would surely defeat
Its chances of success”
If the PLO don’t want to sing this song then the understudies - Egypt and Jordan - might just find themselves center stage in the glare of the spotlights much sooner than they think.