February 2011

Last week the Guardian, Britain’s main liberal newspaper, ran an exclusive report on the belated confessions of an Iraqi exile, Rafeed al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by the CIA. Eight years ago, Janabi played a key behind-the-scenes role — if an inadvertent one — in making possible the US invasion of Iraq. His testimony bolstered claims by the Bush administration that Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, had developed an advanced programme producing weapons of mass destruction.

Israel has been indulging in a sustained bout of fear-mongering since the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled earlier this month. The ostensible aim has been to warn the international community that the lengthy “cold peace” between the two countries is on the verge of collapse. In reality, the peace treaty signed three decades ago is in no danger for the forseeable future. The Egyptian and Israeli armies have too much of a vested interest in its continuation, whatever political reforms occur in Egypt.

The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians was widely pronounced dead last week as hundreds of official documents leaked to Al Jazeera television showed Palestinian negotiators had agreed to make major concessions on Jerusalem, refugees and borders. But there were few indications that Israel’s leaders are in mourning. Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s prime minister, has been happily reverting to his default position on solving the conflict: “economic peace”.