The UN’s world leaders exchange programme gets underway today with the Israeli Prime Minister and the President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) beginning a two-week job-swap. The scheme is intended to promote greater understanding and co-operation between nations, and it is hoped the first role reversal will lead to a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Under the rules of the exchange, Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas must for the first week follow the policies already laid down by their opposite number. However, at the midway point of the swap each will take sole charge of their adoptive government and introduce their own policies in a twist that the UN is dubbing ’regime change’.
‘I’m really looking forward to it,’ said Israeli Prime Minister Olmert today. ‘It’ll be nice just to hang out with the Palestinians for a while and see how they operate. I’m hoping they’ll come to understand that if all the people in the West Bank just budged up a little, then that would really make life more comfortable for us Israelis. Plus I’m told that the Gaza Strip is one of the best places on the planet to launch rockets from, so I’m really looking forward to that.’
PNA President Mahmoud Abbas was also in positive spirits. ‘I’ve got relatives in the building trade, and they’re really jealous that I’ll get to put up some settlements in the West Bank without having to worry about formalities like planning permission. But top of the to-do list for week two is definitely the transfer of the deeds to East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights into Palestinian hands. Should be good.’
Assuming the inaugural exchange is a success, the UN has a number of further job swaps lined up. Hugo Chavez is pencilled in to trade places with staid German premier Angela Merkel in January, while Gordon Brown is due to swap with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai in March. It is anticipated that Brown’s experience in reining in rebellious Labour backbenchers will stand him in good stead for trying to reconcile the warring Afghan tribes. Meanwhile, as part of its potential future leaders scheme, the UN has confirmed that Conservative Party leader David Cameron will spend the 2009 parliamentary season on loan at Plymouth Argyle.