"Sharon and Arafat must solve Middle East conflict"

US congressman offers some out of date advice on Israel/Palestine.

Looking for a new and fresh approach to solving the Israel/Palestine conflict? Don't ask US Representative Joe Pitts, the Pennsylvania congressman who has become something of an internet sensation. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday:

Replying to a Chester County constituent's e-mail regarding Middle East tensions, Pitts wrote on April 20 that "it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat" to hunker down at the negotiating table.

Problem is, Arafat died in 2004. And Sharon, no longer Israel's leader, has lain in a coma-like state since a massive stroke in 2006.

. . .

"Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns," Pitts began. ". . .With the global war against terrorism, it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists that have perpetuated violence and to restart a peace process."

Pitts' assistant said: “It’s a dumb mistake that is the result of human error in a complicated mail system,” rather than a reflection of the congressman's knowledge of international affairs.

The Times of Israel reported that neither Sharon or Arafat were available for comment.

Hat-tip: Huffington Post

 

A Palestinian artist paints a mural of Yasser Arafat, Gaza City, 2005. Photograph: Getty Images

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Donald Trump's inauguration signals the start of a new and more unstable era

A century in which the world's hegemonic power was a rational actor is about to give way to a more terrifying reality. 

For close to a century, the United States of America has been the world’s paramount superpower, one motivated by, for good and for bad, a rational and predictable series of motivations around its interests and a commitment to a rules-based global order, albeit one caveated by an awareness of the limits of enforcing that against other world powers.

We are now entering a period in which the world’s paramount superpower is neither led by a rational or predictable actor, has no commitment to a rules-based order, and to an extent it has any guiding principle, they are those set forward in Donald Trump’s inaugural: “we will follow two simple rules: hire American and buy American”, “from this day forth, it’s going to be America first, only America first”.

That means that the jousting between Trump and China will only intensify now that he is in office.  The possibility not only of a trade war, but of a hot war, between the two should not be ruled out.

We also have another signal – if it were needed – that he intends to turn a blind eye to the actions of autocrats around the world.

What does that mean for Brexit? It confirms that those who greeted the news that an US-UK trade deal is a “priority” for the incoming administration, including Theresa May, who described Britain as “front of the queue” for a deal with Trump’s America, should prepare themselves for disappointment.

For Europe in general, it confirms what should already been apparent: the nations of Europe are going to have be much, much more self-reliant in terms of their own security. That increases Britain’s leverage as far as the Brexit talks are concerned, in that Britain’s outsized defence spending will allow it acquire goodwill and trade favours in exchange for its role protecting the European Union’s Eastern border.

That might allow May a better deal out of Brexit than she might have got under Hillary Clinton. But there’s a reason why Trump has increased Britain’s heft as far as security and defence are concerned: it’s because his presidency ushers in an era in which we are all much, much less secure. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.