x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arafat-Sharon talks?

A member of the US Congress inadvertently reveals just how much many Americans don't know about the plight of the Palestinians.

So you write a letter to a congressman expressing concern over House Resolution 268, a resolution that reaffirms US commitment "to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

And then you wait. A year later, you receive a response dated April 20, 2012. But it might as well have been dated 2002.

The letter in question (reported by the blog Mondoweiss), from the office of Pennsylvania Republican Joe Pitts was, to say the least, out of touch with reality: "With the global war against terrorism, it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists that have perpetuated violence and to restart a peace process that has collapsed."

The Middle East peace process has enough problems without having to rely on the efforts of a Palestinian leader who died in 2004, and an Israeli one who has been in a coma since 2006.

It might be tempting to dismiss this as a one-off absurdity, but it is cause for genuine concern. The House of Representatives has considerable influence on US foreign policy in the Middle East. Is it too much to expect them to know what year it is over here, too?