Foreign Policy Blogs

The Enigma that is Vice President Cheney


During his Middle East trip, Vice President Cheney offered several pragmatic remarks concerning the stalemate between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators:

"On Sunday, Cheney said the United States would continue to work toward the "long-overdue' goal of creating a Palestinian state.

"Achieving that vision will require tremendous effort at the negotiating table and painful concessions on both sides,' Cheney said, adding that “it will also require a determination to defeat those who are committed to violence and who refuse to accept the basic right of the other side to exist."

As Laura Rozen notes, Cheney's urging for both sides to make painful concessions was right on par with what needed to be said, but surprising coming from the source.  While his comments regarding the peace-process may have given pause, he also provided expected assurances that the United States took notice of Iran's threatening nature towards Israel, and renewed America's commitment to ensure Israel's security.

"Before dinner with Mr. Olmert on Saturday night, Mr. Cheney offered robust support for Israel.

"America's commitment to Israel's security is enduring and unshakable, as is our commitment to Israel's right to defend itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other threats from forces dedicated to Israel's destruction,' Mr. Cheney said. The United States, he said, "will never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security."

Addressing Arab-Israeli peace, the author of this Jerusalem Post editorial believes Arab states should "lead by example, rather than waiting for the divided and radicalized Palestinians to move first."  The author might be pleased to read that Yemen's plan to reconcile Fatah and Hamas has recently gained steam.  That said, Fatah negotiator Ahmed Qureia has begun to back-peddle from the agreement, stating that Abbas had not provided guidance on the proposal because he was hosting Vice President Cheney.

Based on Cheney's statement's today one might expect him to be unhappy with the reconciliation effort.  Cheney noted that "it is clearly a difficult situation, in part, because I think it's true, there's evidence, that Hamas is supported by Iran and Syria and that they’re doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process.”