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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Krauthammer on Obama's meeting with Abu Mazen

Here's Charles Krauthammer's take on President Obama's meeting with Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen.
We have to start understanding that Abbas is an illusion. He is a fiction. He is a ghost. He is a potential president. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I mean, even the presidency he holds is a dubious legality. And it is said of him that he doesn't even control downtown Ramallah where his offices are.

So you’ve got a man who doesn't have anything in his control. And the reason that years of negotiations he held with the previous Israeli leader, Ehud Olmert, went nowhere is because when Olmert offered everything, Abbas had nothing he can offer to back it up.

So, what is it the United States is trying to do? It has to have a peace process in place, otherwise people will wake up and say we don't have a peace process, and that is intolerable. So you create one.

If you see where Obama is going next week, he's going to be in Egypt, in Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The idea is to create an odd, three-way negotiation in which Israel makes concessions, small concessions, incremental, on the ground, like the lifting of roadblocks, the dismantling of outlying settlements.

And the corresponding concession is not from Abbas, who can't deliver, but from the Arab states — for example, the relaxation of Israel's isolation, trade bans. You could imagine the ping-pong team in Saudi Arabia, although that's rather unlikely, but a gesture on the part of Arabs. So that's what the administration is setting up.

There are some, however, in the administration who believe you can actually have a real settlement in this administration. I think it's an illusion. There's an old adage in the Middle East, "He whom the gods would destroy puts it in his head to solve the Arab-Israeli dispute."
Indeed. The problem is that too many people in this administration actually believe they're going to reach a 'settlement.' And they start with President Obama himself, who believes that through his personal charm, he will succeed where Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (and others before them) failed.

Unfortunately, Obama may actually reach a 'settlement.' But if he does, it won't include Israel.


At 4:59 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - more accurately Obama can outline a possible settlement. But he won't be able to impose it anymore than he can impose nuclear disarmament upon the North Koreans. The United States may be a superpower but its not ancient Rome.


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