James A. Baker, III
Back in his glory days as secretary of state, James A. Baker, III, was widely seen as hostile to Israel, a charge I defended him from, once in the Washington Post
("This Administration is Good for Israel
") and once in Commentary
magazine ("Bush, Clinton, and the Jews
A report in Insight magazine today, "Baker wants Israel excluded from regional conference," caught my eye, however. Here are some excerpts:
The White House has been examining a proposal by James Baker to launch a Middle East peace effort without Israel. The peace effort would begin with a U.S.-organized conference, dubbed Madrid-2, and contain such U.S. adversaries as Iran and Syria. Officials said Madrid-2 would be promoted as a forum to discuss Iraq's future, but actually focus on Arab demands for Israel to withdraw from territories captured in the 1967 war. They said Israel would not be invited to the conference.
"As Baker sees this, the conference would provide a unique opportunity for the United States to strike a deal without Jewish pressure," an official said. "This has become the most hottest proposal examined by the foreign policy people over the last month." Officials said Mr. Baker's proposal, reflected in the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, has been supported by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. …
Under the Baker proposal, the Bush administration would arrange a Middle East conference that would discuss the future of Iraq and other Middle East issues. Officials said the conference would seek to win Arab support on Iraq in exchange for a U.S. pledge to renew efforts to press Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Golan Heights. "Baker sees his plan as containing something for everybody, except perhaps the Israelis," the official said. "The Syrians would get back the Golan, the Iranians would get U.S. recognition and the Saudis would regain their influence, particularly with the Palestinians."
Comment: If this report is accurate, Baker has latterly confirmed the hostility he was accused of 15 years ago? What happened? Being tone-deaf, as he was then, is one thing. Throwing a close ally to the wolves, quite another. (December 5, 2006)
Dec. 12, 2006 update: I offer my take today on the Iraq Study Group Report at "James Baker's Terrible Iraq Report."
Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy, Arab-Israeli debate in the U.S., US policy
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