In the looking-glass world of Middle East politics, it is easy to forget that Ahmad Saadat, the imprisoned Palestinian leader Israel summarily arrested in Jericho late on Tuesday, is wanted for masterminding the killing of the Jewish state's most notorious racist politician-general.There you go; a little bit of context but now for the Britain's duplicity bit:
Rehavam Zeevi, head of the Central Command in the late 1960s and early 1970s, personally developed and managed Israel's brutal regime in the newly occupied West Bank. After retiring from the battlefield, he waged a relentless war against "the Arabs" on the political front. His Moledet party, founded in the 1980s, advocated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Greater Israel--in other words, from Israel and the occupied territories.
His thinking became so acceptable after the outbreak of the intifada that he was appointed tourism minister in Ariel Sharon's first cabinet. Maybe Sharon thought that, with Zeevi for company, he really might start to look like a man of peace.
Zeevi's killing by gunmen in a Jerusalem hotel in 2001 was about as close as the Palestinians have managed to get to emulating an Israeli-style targeted assassination--with the difference that, in the Palestinian operation, no bystanders were killed.
Britain reneged on its understandings with the Palestinians and quit Jericho, but not before telling Israel it was going. As if waiting for its cue, Israeli armour rolled into Jericho at once to capture Saadat and a handful of other wanted men.And of course the Palestinian backlash against British duplicity has made British "security concerns" a self-fulfilling prophecy.
To Palestinians, the British broken promise, as well as the hasty exit from Jericho and apparent collusion with Israel, all smacked a little too painfully of other episodes of British foreign policy in the Middle East. There were echoes of 1956 and London's pact during the Suez Crisis with Israel on the invasion of Egypt. And there were echoes too of 1948, when Britain hurriedly abandoned Palestine, though not before it had effectively fulfilled the Balfour Declaration's promise of creating a Jewish homeland by allowing hundreds of thousands of Jews to immigrate.
That in large part explains the outpouring of rage from Gaza to Ramallah on Tuesday, as well as the kidnapping of foreigners. Britain's duplicity was a reminder--if it was needed--that nothing has changed in a century of Western "diplomacy".