Tips for Tony
1.Don't invest your own money.
Before you begin work in your new office in Jerusalem as the emissary of the Quartet, pop over to New York to visit your predecessor, James Wolfensohn. Like you, he was also highly motivated and optimistic when he took office, and believed his previous experience as president of the World Bank and his frequent contacts with world leaders had prepared him to deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians. But it did not help him when he tried to build a post-disengagement economic infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The "crossings agreement," which he attained with great effort, was not implemented; Hamas' ascent to power emptied his mission of all content. His biggest mistake was to contribute half a million dollars of his own money to purchase the hothouses from the Gush Katif settlers. Not a single stem has made it to market.
Wolfensohn was a successful investment banker who made millions on Wall Street. But you, as a pensioner of Her Majesty, cannot take such an economic risk. Hold on to your savings for Cherie and the children and don't make bad investments in the territories.
2. Forget what you said.
The archives at 10 Downing Street are full of your statements on the supreme importance of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You have repeatedly said that a solution is at hand, if only the right mediator can be found. You presented the example of the solution you brought to Northern Ireland as an example for the Middle East. Now is the time to make good on those statements. Your friend, U.S. President George W. Bush, and his partners in the Quartet have laid the Middle Eastern trouble at your doorstep. The world will see you as responsible for a solution to the conflict, even if your mandate is limited to "fostering Palestinian institutions." If you fail, you won't be able to counter the criticism completely, but you should learn from Wolfensohn's approach to the stock market: look ahead. Try to forget yesterday's declarations and focus on action.
3. Show you understand security issues.
On the Israeli side, that dreamy duo awaits you: Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak. You've heard from both of them in the past on their willingness to withdraw from the West Bank and establish a Palestinian state there. But that was in your previous position. Now you'll have to deal with the practical side of the conflict, and not just slogans. Olmert and Barak will promise to help ease the Palestinians' situation, but those who decide whether Palestinians receive freedom of movement is the GOC Central Command, Gadi Shamni and the Shin Bet security service regional head. Try to make friends with them and with the brigade commanders. Go with them on stakeouts and on arrest sweeps. Show empathy for security problems and persuade them to listen to you. As a long-time observer, by now you must know how suspicious the Israelis are. In an interview with Haaretz nine months ago you spoke about the concern here that the Israeli interest will be harmed to solve a global problem. You promised then that you would never sacrifice Israel's security. Those suspicions will accompany you throughout your mission. There will always be a politician or pundit who will accuse you of flattering the Arabs in an attempt to erase the shame of the Iraq war. Don't get insulted. Show your credibility by your actions.
4. Set new goals.
From your earlier meetings with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, you know how great the gap is between his fine declarations and his meager actions. Just as the Israelis will try to feed you excuses, Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan and Saeb Erekat will complain endlessly that they are weak. Don't let them get away with it. Set minimal goals, but insist on their implementation. Go out with Tawfik Tirawi and Palestinian intelligence operatives to collect weapons and arrest Hamasniks. Explain that every such action allows you to clear one more roadblock. Your life won't be easy then either: There will always be someone who will present you in the Arab press as an agent or a dupe of American and Zionist imperialism. But, again, don't get insulted. Show then you can get results.
5. Prepare a letter.
If you succeed, a Nobel Peace Prize awaits you. But don't count on it. Write your letter of resignation ahead of time, in which you accuse Bush of not giving you backing, Olmert of stubbornness and Abbas of ineffectiveness. In moments of despair, when your fine plans go up in the smoke of terrorist attacks in Israel and civil war in the territories, you can look at the letter and fantasize about the summer house you'll buy in Spain or Italy when all this is over.