Powered by WebAds

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Clinton - Netanyahu meeting: Epic fail? Part 1

I don't know how many of you have sat in seven-hour meetings, but I have sat in several of them. The length of the meeting does not always dictate success or failure. And Thursday's meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Clinton is looking more and more like a failure.

Josh Rogin reports that the reason the meeting ran so long is that they weren't discussing a 'settlement freeze.' According to Rogin, they were talking about final borders.
"If there in fact is progress in the next several months, I'm confident people will look back at this meeting between Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu as the foundation of the progress. It was that important," former Congressman Robert Wexler, now the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, told The Cable.

Wexler said that President Obama had long been asking both the Israelis and the Palestinians for clarity on the territories they envisioned being part of their future states. The recent meeting, he said, could be an important step in that direction -- at least in clarifying Israel's position.

"I am hopeful that yesterday's meeting was the beginning of clarity in terms of Israel's visions about her own borders -- where does Israel want Israel's borders to be," said Wexler. "Because ultimately, we can't help our close friend until they share with us their own vision."

The meeting was the highest level interaction between the U.S. and Israeli governments since the last round of direct talks in September. Wexler said that while the two leaders didn't sit down with a map and draw lines around particular neighborhoods, the administration's switch to a focus on borders as a means of getting at the settlements problem was clear. "It's the only rational, sane way to proceed," he said. "Talking about borders and territories will by definition minimize the impact of the settlement issue."

Wexler said that by virtue of the fact that the meeting was seven hours, it's reasonable to assume that significant progress was made. "I think we're very close to creating that magic formula that satisfies both the Israelis and the Palestinians to come back to the table."
Not necessarily. I've been in seven-hour meetings that ended with the parties blowing up the deal. Have a look at this picture of Clinton and Netanyahu, which was likely taken after the meeting (based on how disheveled they look).

Do they look happy? They look awfully tense to me. Netanyahu looks a little smug and Clinton looks like she needs a drink.

Let me add now that if the discussion was about borders, no one in Israel has reported it. Do Bob Wexler and Josh Rogin know something that no one in Israel does?

The 'Palestinians' would be happy to discuss borders, reports Rogin.
"The conventional wisdom is that if we deal with the issue of the borders then we will be able, by default, to deal with the issue of settlements -- and if you can define the borders of the two states and agree on these borders, then each party can build in its own territory without being contested by the other party," Areikat told The Cable. "This is what everybody is aiming at.... Now whether the Americans are going to succeed in convincing the Israelis to do it, we have to wait and see."

Of course, the two sides disagree over the order of events even when discussing the border issue.

"The Palestinian position is that we need to agree on the borders, then we will discuss in parallel the security arrangements. The Israelis are saying no, we need to define first what the security arrangements are to project what the final borders will be," Areikat explained.
And Rogin claims that the US has offered Israel a package of incentives to reach agreement on borders.
In what appears to be a recognition of the Israeli position, Clinton and her team apparently spent a good deal of their time with the Netanyahu team spelling out a long list of additional security guarantees the Obama administration is offering to Israel.
Well, yes, incentives have been offered, but they're being reported here as being in exchange for another three months of 'settlement freeze,' now not including Jerusalem, and aside from an impressive dollar number for fighter jets that has left people here in shock, no one I've heard has been very impressed by the incentives. But I'll come back to them.

I'm going to bring this post to a close before it gets really out of hand in terms of length. But before I do, I want to bring you the 'Palestinian' reaction to Netanyahu's meeting with Clinton. They are not pleased.
A PA official said that the US consul general briefed Abbas on the results of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s talks in the US last week.

The official claimed that the Americans failed again in convincing Netanyahu to agree to a full cessation of settlement construction in return for the resumption of the peace talks.

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat announced over the weekend that the Palestinians may ask the US to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines if the Americans fail to pressure Israel to stop the construction in one month.

“If the US can’t oblige Israel to stop the settlements during this month, we will ask the US to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem,” Erekat said.

He pointed out that 107 countries have recognized the Palestinian state and that the Palestinians have official embassies in dozens of countries. “Unfortunately, the US still hasn’t recognized us,” he said. “Also, there are 21 EU states that haven’t recognized us although we have representative offices there.”

Erekat said it was “unjust” to hold both Israel and the Palestinians responsible for the suspension of the peace talks. “The Israeli government is responsible for the collapse of the negotiations because of its practices and construction in the settlements, especially during Netanyahu’s visit to Washington,” he said. “Why aren’t they holding the Israeli government responsible as they promised to do when they said that they would hold the party responsible for the collapse of the talks responsible?”
Similar comments from Abu Mazen and Fayyad are also noted.

Netanyahu is actually trying to sell the American incentives to the cabinet, but it's doubtful whether he can do that, and it's even more doubtful that the 'Palestinians' will accept what Clinton required of Netanyahu as sufficient even if Netanyahu succeeds in selling it to the cabinet. Maybe....

More to follow.

Labels: , , ,


At 4:42 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Palestinians don't have to negotiate.

Why should they if Israel is going to make a unilateral concession to them anyway?

They can stay away from the talks for three months and then get the Americans to badger Israel for yet another extension.

For Abu Bluff, its the best of all worlds.

At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel better be careful, neither the obama administration or the p.a. can be trusted. Make them define every word of what they are offering. If Israel agrees to this borders plan it would be a huge mistake. I see the p.a. and obama admin. just declaring unilaterally a state using those "agreed" upon borders. I hope I am wrong, please be careful.


Post a Comment

<< Home