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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Clinton - Netanyahu meeting: Epic fail? Part 2 (Why the 'Palestinians' will accept the deal)

The big topic of conversation on Sunday in Israel is the package of US 'incentives' to get Israel to agree to extend the 'settlement freeze' for three months. Jerusalem is off the table, which makes it very unlikely that the 'Palestinians' will agree to the package unless.... Well, there is one incentive that the US could give the 'Palestinians' to agree to the package being offered to Israel, and it dovetails perfectly with what's been offered to Israel. In fact, the 'Palestinians' will agree to this deal for reasons I'll explain at the end of this post.

Before I discuss the incentives, I want to say that as an Israeli I don't believe that there's any package that's acceptable, and as an American I'm embarrassed to see the American government groveling before a much smaller power in a bid to get that power to accept something - anything - to move ahead. As much as I couldn't stand him, Bush 41 had the right idea in 1990, when he gave both sides the White House phone number and told them to call when they were ready to make peace. The Obama administration has made the US look like a middling regional power by continuing to push under these circumstances. There is no 'fierce moral urgency' other than its own survival that ought to make a great power like the United States grovel in front of anyone. It doesn't bode well for American power and prestige in the future - regardless of whether Israel accepts the incentives.

But that's a parenthetical. Clinton offered Netanyahu a package of incentives for Israel to agree to an extension of the 'settlement freeze.' Here's what's been reported in Israel.
The US asked Israel to freeze all new settlement construction begun after September 26th for a 90-day period in exchange for support in the United Nations and 20 additional advanced fighter planes worth $3 billion, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The principles of this agreement designed to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, were relayed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to his inner cabinet, a forum of seven ministers, on Saturday night and will be explained to the full cabinet on Sunday.

The US said that if the deal was accepted it would not request an additional settlement freeze. The request does not include east Jerusalem.


Should Israel accept the offer, the US in turn has pledged in the next year to veto any efforts by the UN Security Council to impose on Israel a non-negotiated solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, as the Palestinians have requested.

It would further veto any resolutions that deny Israel the right to self-defense or seek to de-legitimize Israel. The US would also oppose such efforts in other UN bodies and forums.
Haaretz identifies the 'advanced fighters' as F-35's and adds:
The U.S. will not ask Israel to extend the new moratorium when it expires.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, said the Americans had not officially informed the Palestinians about the details of the proposal, "but they know we have a major problem in not including east Jerusalem".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will put the U.S. plan before Palestinian
decision-makers and call for an immediate session of Arab League officials before announcing an official decision, Erekat said.

In return for an Israeli freeze, the U.S. government would deliver 20 F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a deal worth $3 billion. Moreover, if an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is achieved, the U.S. would sign a comprehensive security agreement with Israel. The U.S. and Israel are to discuss the nature of the new security arrangements in the next few weeks.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the cabinet that the US freeze proposal was 'not final.'
"This proposal was raised during my talks with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. It is still not final; it is still being formulated by Israeli and the American teams."

Speaking at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said "if and when it is complete, I will bring this proposal to the appropriate Government forum, which in this case is the Cabinet."

"In any case, I insist that any proposal meet the State of Israel's security needs, both in the immediate term and vis-à-vis the threats that we will face in the coming decade," Netanyahu explained.
There's been lots of speculation over who will vote in favor and who against in the cabinet. Read the whole thing.

Here's the key to the American offer: The offer to support Israel in the UN is not open-ended. It's good for a year. (It also bears pointing out that the 'security agreement' with the US is also contingent upon Israel reaching a final status deal with the 'Palestinians'). As one cabinet minister asked on Sunday, why should we give a three-month settlement freeze for support that has always been automatic until now? Why let the US tell us that in a year they will stop supporting us in the UN? Well, it's worse than that.

Why would the 'Palestinians' accept this deal without a 'settlement freeze' in Jerusalem? Because the Obama administration is going to promise them that if they accept it and there's still no deal in year or in August 2011, the Obama administration will not veto (at least!) a Security Council initiative to declare a 'Palestinian state.' And that's why this deal is so dangerous for Israel.

Could Obama let a 'Palestinian state' go through the Security Council without a deal like this? Of course he could. But he wouldn't be able to say that Israel agreed to it and Congress would then be outraged. It would also ensure that Obama is a one-term President. But if we agree to this deal, we are agreeing that if there's no deal with the 'Palestinians' in a year (and we all know there won't be), the Obama administration will allow a 'Palestinian state' to be created by the Security Council.

There is very little else that is more dangerous to Israel's existence right now than the prospect of a Chapter 7 (compulsory for all UN members) resolution creating a 'Palestinian state.' That's why Israel's government must say no!

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At 4:48 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Agreed. There is no support for it among most of the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Jewish National Home. Shas as usual is the swing vote and we can guess Labor, Netanyahu and Meridor will likely vote in favor of the US proposal. My guess is whether it passes depends on how large a bribe Shas can be persuaded to swallow to get it to pass in the Cabinet.

Its not over yet. What could go wrong indeed

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As one cabinet minister asked on Sunday, why should we give a three-month settlement freeze for support that has always been automatic until now?"

The implicit is that such support will not otherwise be forthcoming as long as Obama is in the White House. Credible threat? I'd say so.

I'd also say that assurances from Obama are worthless, given his double-dealing and backstabbing to date.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Y.K. said...

Your guess as to what the admin promised the Palestinians may well be accurate, but it doesn't mean Israel consents to it by accepting this deal. And late 2011 was always the deadline for Obama (see UN speech), the Palestinians (fayyad's statements which suggest establishing a state by that time), and even Nethanyahu's ideas for the process. So I don't entirely agree with the analysis, but the deal is still not good for Israel, aside from giving extra time to a process which will not lead anywhere.

All of the benefits are stuff Israel has already been promised to receive or is very likely to receive. On the other hand, the deal causes suffering to the settlers and leads to the deterioration of Israel's bargaining position by accepting to discuss borders as separate from security (which is a part of the deal per Yisrael Hayom and JCPA [1]), and to discuss borders first. This cannot lead to a good outcome as the two issues are linked, because the US can't guarantee security for Israel or the PA, and because once territory is discussed Israel will have no bargaining position left since it has agreed to give what it's supposed to. Worst of all, the negotiations are doomed even moreso if the US has indeed promised the farm to the Palestinians.

It may be therefor necessary to embark on a confrontation path sooner or later. The interesting question is therefor less about the deal, but rather how and when should Israel confront Obama if he decides to support the Palestinians all the way.



At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Anointed One goes Pali in the UN Security Council he'll do that w/out a freeze--so what's the loss? -- if a crisis develops in 3 months it can be dealt with then. As Abbas still publicly demands a Judenrien Palestine with E. Jerusalem and right of return to turn Israel into a second Palestine--imo exclusion of Jerusalem and promise not to re-up freeze leaves Obama support for independent Jew-free Fatahland up in the air . If the prez goes full appease mode, Israel can clear the Palestinian chessboard or annex large settlement blocks etc. coz it will have to.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Carl.
I sincerely hope this is not true and that Israel doesn't accept this "Deal".I would wait till there's another President in the White House one who's isn't as bias.

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is working on a timetable that assumes he isn't going to get a second term. And everything I know about him tells me that he's going to ram a 'settlement' down Israel's throat one way or another, even if that means not vetoing or even directly supporting a UNSC resolution to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1949 armistice lines. Sadly the other members of the Security Council are all likely to go along with such a move, even though it will almost certainly mean war.

But Obama is determined, and I don't see how he is going to be stopped. The unstated side of all his carrots and offers to Israel is the unstated stick. And he'll use it on Israel.

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

The AP is predicting this thing passes the Israeli cabinet.


(I try not to swear even on the Internet. That's the closest it gets.)

At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Palestinians are not indicating they believe that somehow accepting this deal locks Israel into the fait accompli of American backing of UN Security Council resolution for the Palis after one year (but yes, who came up with the one year?). They say they are unhappy and surprised (will be ditto for the American anti-Israel NYTimes to Mearsheimer right/left on the Bibi-Clinton-{Obama] confabs); if folks want a break now to eliminate uncertainty later or a trap one year down the road, well, divorce solves troubled marriages--well, they end--but they often end messily and the divorce has its own costs--it is prudent to initiate proceedings with open eyes.

At 2:10 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Netanyahu broke a promise but cynical Israelis know no politician in Israel ever keeps a promise.

The revanants are finding out the hard way that just like the inhabitants of Ghajar, they are dispensable - for the right price.


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