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Nov 17, 2005 3:35 pm


ISRAEL SAVES RICE'S HIDE



You will excuse me if I do not celebrate Condoleeza Rice's meager victory. For it she achieved it by forcing Israel to place the security of her own citizens in the hand of EU observers.

What is the US getting for her intermittent support of Israel? Is the question heard over and over again. Here is one answer. When the chips are down and the American ally needs a favor, Israel will be there. Indeed, it will take serious risks on behalf of its ally.

The US is having a terrible time in the Middle East. Condoleeza Rice has just been dissed in a most public manner by Egypt:

In a surprise move, Egypt, which accounts for more than half the Arab world's population and is the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid, derailed the Forum for the Future by demanding language that would have given Arab governments significant control over which pro-democracy groups would receive aid from a new fund.

Last-ditch diplomacy by the United States -- which was represented at the conference by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- failed to get Egypt to budge, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit left before the conference broke up. ``We made a very clear case,'' a senior U.S. official at the conference said on condition of anonymity. ``There were intensive negotiations. We made clear it would scuttle the declaration.''

Participants might have to wait another year for a regionwide declaration, Bahrain's foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Khalifa, said at a news conference in Manama.

In other words, Rice's trip to the ME was about to be a total disaster. Do I hear anyone questioning the $2 billion dollars the US pays Egypt to spout anti-Americanism and undermine American regional interests? In any case, Rice's Middle East diplomacy needed rescuing and, ultimately, Israel came to rescue. It was not the first time and will not be the last. Israel, unlike Egypt, Turkey or France, knows that allies do not betray allies when they are in trouble.

I also hope Rice knows what she has done and will feel personally committed to insure that her rescue does not cost Israeli lives.




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