Israel, Peace negotiations, Syria, The Qnion

Failure to Coordinate Grand Gesture Ends in Embarrassment for Israel, Syria

syria-israel-map1DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Fresh on the heels of a regional summit in Doha where President Bashar al-Assad had reaffirmed his support for resistance against Israel while expressing reservations about the Arab Peace Initiative, the Syrian president dropped a bombshell by embarking on an epoch-making visit to Tel Aviv, Wednesday morning.

“Nobody saw this coming,” said Mark Burnes, a State Department analyst who monitors Syrian affairs. “We knew that they were close to a deal, but the Israelis didn’t tell us how close.”

Security arrangements appeared to have been made in advance to permit the passage of the presidential aircraft into Israeli airspace, and a small retinue of high-level ministers and military officials awaited al-Assad at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International airport.

The highly secret preparations for the visit, however had produced an improbable breach of diplomatic protocol: the absence of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu among the ministerial welcoming delegation. Official sources say that earlier that same morning, the Israeli PM had himself embarked upon an epoch-making visit to Syria, touching down in Damascus International Airport only 6 minutes after President al-Assad arrived in Tel Aviv.

A high-level source in the Syrian Foreign Ministry said that they were baffled by an alert from the Syrian Air Defense Force, notifying them that an Israeli civilian aircraft had entered Syrian airspace and was requesting permission to land in Damascus.

“We had scrambled four MiG-29 interceptors, but when the pilots of the Israeli jet explained who was on board their aircraft, our Air Force High Command relayed the message to us with a request for clarification,” the Foreign Ministry source said.

Asked if the Syrians had been expecting a reciprocal visit from Netanyahu at a later stage, the source responded, “All that I can say is that the scheduling error was committed by the Israelis. We were supposed to visit first.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the mix-up, but a source in the Prime Minister’s office confirmed that the ball appeared to have been dropped by the Israelis.

“Our staff has been stretched to the breaking point for the past three weeks, trying to form the ruling coalition and putting together the cabinet. Netanyahu has been meeting MK’s until all hours of the night; he’s exhausted and over-worked. It’s understandable that a scheduling error might occur under these circumstances,” the advisor said.

Responding to a question about the potential outcome of this logistical mishap, a source in the British Foreign Office said: “Well, it certainly changes the story a bit, doesn’t it? This was supposed to be the “Sadat goes to Jerusalem” moment, but they fouled it up. They’re like ships passing in the night… or, airplanes passing in the day, or whatever.”

As of this writing, Prime Minister Netanyahu was still in the air returning from Damascus to Tel Aviv, where he will be received by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

By QIFA NABKI — 3 hours ago

[To read more about the visit, click here.]
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20 thoughts on “Failure to Coordinate Grand Gesture Ends in Embarrassment for Israel, Syria

  1. Happy April Fools to you too!

    Posted by Jad Aoun | April 1, 2009, 12:07 pm
  2. What did little Mahmoud of Iran have to say about all this?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | April 1, 2009, 12:41 pm
  3. Poor Bibi.

    Posted by netsp | April 1, 2009, 1:02 pm
  4. You win!! My heart was beating so fast through that first paragraph. You’ve got the AP style down to a tee!
    Twittered at

    Posted by Sasa | April 1, 2009, 2:07 pm
  5. QN,

    Bibi swore he will only go to Damascus once he learns how to say in Arabic “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

    Posted by Shai | April 1, 2009, 2:19 pm
  6. Hah, hah, hah.

    Posted by pattonmat89 | April 1, 2009, 2:25 pm
  7. A man can dream, can’t he?

    Posted by Abraham Rotsapsky | April 1, 2009, 3:57 pm
  8. QN,

    You should have added a mutual plane crash above the Golan to the narrative, for the sake of poetic justice 🙂

    Posted by Yossi (AKA Rumyal) | April 1, 2009, 9:42 pm
  9. QN,

    I second Yossi’s suggestion. But what bothers me more, is why you decided that Bashar’s route had to pass through Jordanian and Palestinian airspace? 🙂 Are there some hidden preconditions here?

    Posted by Shai | April 1, 2009, 9:52 pm
  10. Joe M.,

    Thank you. There you go… But why the threat “If Netanyahu blah blah blah…”? Why not dissolve the PA now? Long term, such a move will certainly win Fatah greater popularity than continuing to court various Israeli governments, no?

    Posted by Shai | April 2, 2009, 4:46 pm
  11. Another fine piece of investigative reporting from Jacob Tafnis. QN, how do you manage to get exclusive publishing right from such a renowned reporter?

    Posted by idaf | April 2, 2009, 10:47 pm
  12. Shai,
    They won’t do it because they gain too much advantage from the institution. It helps organize their trips to embassies, stays in fancy hotels, makes them feel like “diplomats” as they call each other “president” and all that bullshit. Why would they dismantle it? We are talking about a bunch of crooks here. They are involved in a “peace industry” which is in their own interests, and the PA is a key part of that industry. It’s not going away any time soon.

    Posted by Joe M. | April 3, 2009, 10:12 am
  13. idaf,

    He’s a close friend, just like Amtihke Jad and Bala Manyakeh. We go way back. 😉

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | April 3, 2009, 11:44 am
  14. Joe M.,

    It’s exactly the same on our side. Our politicians and our leaders are no less corrupt. It’s easier to name the ones that are NOT under investigation, than the ones that are.

    In this greatest economic crisis we’ve ever had, the same politicians that just recently called for a law to be enacted that will limit the amount of ministers in government to 18, have now created 30, and another 9 deputy-ministers. The amount of money that will be spent on flying these buffoons around the world, to meet up with Fatah peace-lovers in fancy hotels, is beyond understanding. They also wanted to build a new Prime Minister’s complex, that was going to cost the taxpayer only 650 million shekels (150 million dollars).

    The new Minister of Internal Security is Lieberman’s best buddy from the same party. He told the Chief of Police that he didn’t wish to be updated about the recent investigations of high-level individuals. Imagine – he’s in charge of internal security, but doesn’t want to know if Lieberman is stealing, robbing, threatening, or killing anyone.

    What do you think of our new Foreign Minister? 🙂

    Posted by Shai | April 3, 2009, 1:38 pm
  15. I like Lieberman as Foreign Minister. He has the same policies are Livni, Barak, and all the others, but he openly admits it and doesn’t feel the need to play nice. It’s about time.

    Actually, this new government in Israel makes me more optimistic for the chances of peace. Because it makes it harder for Fatah, Egypt, Jordan, and the other puppets to act like they can deal normally with Israel. It puts the squeeze on them.

    Of course, I expect a lot of nothing to happen with the new government. Maybe a war or two (no different than any other Israeli government), so I just hope the Israeli government lasts long enough to crush the puppet governments. God knows they are amazingly resilient.

    Though, I was very surprised that Livni didn’t join the government. It’s too bad that she defeated Mofaz in the leadership election. That would have killed the “peace process,” and Israel as a zionist state, once and for all.

    Posted by Joe M. | April 3, 2009, 9:08 pm
  16. I’m also more optimistic now (about the chances for peace), than I was with the Kadima-Labor governments. As you say, things are now clearly “on the table”. I feel we’re closer to the day when Israel will be given very clear choices to make, than we’ve ever been before. And I think, and hope, that the majority of my countrymen will choose correctly.

    Posted by Shai | April 3, 2009, 9:22 pm
  17. Shai & Joe M.,

    I completely disagree with both of you on that note.

    I am drawn to draw a parallel. Many Israelis would like to see Hizballah come to formal power in Lebanon. The idea is that H’s greatest asset , their ability to not present a target, is lost.

    Posted by netsp | April 6, 2009, 2:25 am


  1. Pingback: Best April Fool’s I’ve seen in a while… « The Blog and the Shower - April 2, 2009

  2. Pingback: Game-Changer: Nasrallah Announces a New Hezbollah Deterrence Policy « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - February 16, 2010

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