Alvaro de Soto's parting blast
It is hard to find a harsher indictment of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration than the detailed document that Alvaro de Soto, undersecretary general of the United Nations and its envoy to the Middle East, submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon upon the completion of his 30 years of service in the organization. He accused the United States of a plot to depose the Palestinian government from power at any price, even the price of a bloody civil war.
It is no wonder that publication of the secret document in the British newspaper The Guardian has shaken the glass building in New York. There is nothing that the UN Secretariat fears more than a crisis in relations with Washington. It is not hard to guess how people reacted there upon reading the following paragraph in the document: "I want to stress that, in effect, a National Unity Government with a compromise platform along the lines of Mecca might have been achieved soon after the election," wrote de Soto, "had the U.S. not led the Quartet to set impossible demands, and opposed an NUG in principle."
De Soto asserted that between the elections and the Mecca agreement, the U.S. pressed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas. "A week before Mecca," he wrote, "the U.S. envoy declared twice in an envoys meeting in Washington how much 'I like this violence,' referring to the near-civil war that was erupting in Gaza in which civilians were being regularly killed and injured, because 'it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas.'"
De Soto suggested that the secretary general remember these things the next time someone tries to convince him that a year of pressure on the Hamas government has done the job and that therefore, the siege on the territories should be continued. "On the contrary, the same result could have been achieved much earlier without the year in between in which so much damage was done to Palestinian institutions, and so much suffering brought to the people of the occupied territory, in pursuit of a policy that did not work, which many of us believed from the outset wouldn't work and which, I have no doubt, is at best extremely short-sighted."
In May, when de Soto was writing these grave accusations, he could not have known that a few weeks later, the Mecca agreement would go the way of other agreements between the rival organizations. However, a reading of the document?s continuation indicates that in all likelihood, the explosion that occurred in June did not surprise the veteran Peruvian diplomat. Toward the beginning of last summer, de Soto reported, "advisors close to Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] set in motion an initiative whose purpose - as underscored to us privately - was to bring about the untimely demise of the PA government led by Hamas, through the calling of a referendum to ratify the adherence of the Palestinians to Abu Mazen's program of negotiating a two-state solution in accordance with the Oslo Accords and the commitments entered by the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] ... The U.S., which appears to listen to a small number of Palestinian interlocutors who tell them what they want to hear, seemed to believe on any number of occasions that Abu Mazen was just around the corner from taking Hamas on - but this misjudged both the man and the balance of forces he faced."
De Soto suggested to his boss that he take into account the possibility that sooner or later, the PA will collapse, either as a result of a deliberate Palestinian decision or as a result of the government's implosion in the wake of the economic siege, courtesy of the Quartet. The angry man from the UN said that if this happens, the responsibility for the well-being of the Palestinian population will fall on Israel's shoulders, and all of the achievements of Oslo will go down the drain.