Now Finish the Job
A year ago, JINSA reported that Jerusalem Consul-General Ron Schlicher, Washington’s main interlocutor with the PA and Yasser Arafat, had invited a “skunk” to the Consulate’s 4th of July celebration – Marwan Barghouti, leader of the Tanzim. [see JINSA Report #198] We had two problems. First, Mr. Schlicher appeared to have no standards for dispensing invitations to a celebration of American ideals.
A year ago, JINSA reported that Jerusalem Consul-General Ron Schlicher, Washington’s main interlocutor with the PA and Yasser Arafat, had invited a “skunk” to the Consulate’s 4th of July celebration – Marwan Barghouti, leader of the Tanzim. [see JINSA Report #198] We had two problems. First, Mr. Schlicher appeared to have no standards for dispensing invitations to a celebration of American ideals. Even the State Department’s own report on terrorism (a document most often referred to with a sigh or a snicker) points to the Tanzim as an instigator of violence against Israel, and Barghouti as its head, not to mention Barghouti’s very public anti-Israel and anti-American ranting. Second, the Jerusalem Consulate was a “free radical,” the only Consulate that reports to Washington directly, and NOT through an American Embassy.
The first part of the problem appears to have been resolved. Barghouti is on trial for murder in a Jerusalem court. And Mr. Schlicher left Jerusalem in mid-July, a few weeks after President Bush said the U.S. would no longer deal with the PA leadership. According to The Jerusalem Post, at the end of his vacation, the State Department decided to keep Schlicher in Washington through its mid-September annual review of Foreign Service officers, which will last 6-8 weeks. The Post reports, “Asked whether the decision to extend Schlicher’s stay in Washington was a symbolic expression of U.S. efforts to break ties with Arafat, one diplomatic source said: ‘My understanding is a) he’s on vacation and b) we’re not talking to Arafat.'” We suspect he won’t be back.
The second issue remains precisely as it was when we wrote a year ago:
JINSA has always believed that moving our Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is the right thing to do. But it isn’t the only thing to do. The Consulate, because it reports directly to the State Department (not through the Embassy) has had a fairly free hand in U.S.-Palestinian diplomacy. That has to stop and Congress should stop it. Congress should hold hearings on regularizing the status of the Consulate so that the Ambassador is the authority, whether he holds court in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. And Congress should make it clear that the purveyors of violence have to be persona non grata everywhere, particularly at the American Consulate in Jerusalem, Israel.
In a related measure: We applaud President Bush for announcing that further American aid to Egypt will be predicated on advances in democracy and human rights in that country.
In another related measure? The Administration’s plans for the Middle East are being taken seriously in at least one quarter – American oil companies have slashed the purchases of Iraqi oil that were permitted under the UN oil for food (or oil for weapons of mass destruction) program. This is apparently purely a business decision; oil companies don’t want to be caught short of supply if/when the war starts. Now, if the House-Senate conference on the Energy Bill would just approve oil exploration in ANWR, we would have a nice confluence of commercial and national security interests.