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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Krauthammer on Obama's meeting with Netanyahu

Here's what Charles Krauthammer had to say about President Obama's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu:
There were two new, important elements. One was overt and one was implied.

The new element that I think was stated openly was that, for the first time, Obama stated that his negotiations with Iran are not open- ended. He set not a deadline, but a timeline.

The timeline that he set openly was that if by the end of the year there is no indication of significant movement with Iran, it's over, and he will turn to strong sanctions. And that's new.

Secondly, they both implied that the negotiations will not be just between Israel and Palestinians. A two-way will become a three-way.

The premise here is that the Palestinians are too weak. Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, has no authority to negotiate. And Hamas, the other element among the Palestinians, is a war-making entity. It's not going to make peace. So there is no real interlocutor that Israel has.

So what is going to happen is you will see Israel start to make small concessions. And the response will come from the Arab states, not in the form of sending ambassadors, but of gestures of warming of relations.

So they're going to have, in essence, a dance between Israel and the Arab states, and the Palestinians, who are the weaker element here, are going to make small gestures.

But you're going to see all of these things happening on the ground, gradually, but not in the way that we have envisioned them in the past as simply between Israel and the Palestinians.
Let's look at Iran first, since that's what Krauthammer discussed first (which I find revealing in and of itself - does this mean that Netanyahu succeeded in convincing Obama that Iran is the more immediate issue?). I don't see that Obama made that 'timeline' quite as definite as Krauthammer sees it. What Obama actually said was that the United States would "assess its policy of engagement by the end of the year to see if progress has been made." That's a long way from saying "if by the end of the year there is no indication of significant movement with Iran, it's over, and he will turn to strong sanctions." And he's still only turning to 'strong sanctions,' which aren't likely to do a whole lot of good (partly because there are a lot of other players - Russia, China and the Europeans - who are unlikely to play along with them).

Then there's the part about the 'Palestinians.' According to Krauthammer, Israel is going to make 'small concessions,' and in return the Arab states will make 'gestures of warming relations.' Well, what concessions and what gestures? And how will this advance the cause of 'peace'? (Or perhaps it won't and that will suit all the parties other than the 'Palestinians' just fine). While everyone admits that Hamas isn't interested in peace, the elephant in the living room is that if an election were held among the 'Palestinians' in Judea and Samaria today, Hamas would win it.
A day after US President Barack Obama informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of his intention to launch a new regional peace effort, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday morning that there was "no chance for an effective peace process so long as Hamas rules the Gaza Strip."

Delivering the annual Shin Bet survey, Diskin addressed the volatile balance between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.

"A joint [Fatah-Hamas] government can only be formed through firm international pressure," the Shin Bet head said. "Hamas will never voluntarily give up its rule in the Strip, and the Palestinian Authority will never cede its control over the West Bank."

"If ballots were cast in the West Bank today, there is a good chance Hamas would win," he added.

Diskin said that there was no need to continue construction of the security barrier, as Israel possesses good intelligence and military capacity to prevent terror groups from launching attacks from the West Bank. He warned, however, that Israel should not transfer authority of all counter-terror operations to PA security forces, as the IDF was currently responsible for the majority of preventive arrests.
That makes those 'small concessions' (opening roadblocks in Judea and Samaria? turning over control of Arab cities?) sound quite dangerous and those gestures of 'warming relations' unlikely to be maintained if they are truly dependent on 'progress' in the 'peace process.'


At 10:27 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I don't agree with Krauthammer. No one is going to risk themselves for the Palestinians. Sure, the Arab countries pay them lip service but they are neither interested in them or in warming relations with Israel. I just don't see where a breakthrough is going to come. In fact, the extremists are the ones who hold the upper hand at the moment. The political climate in the Middle East is not propitious for peace today.

At 2:25 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Moshe Feiglin thinks the reason for Israel's current difficulties is it has abandoned Jews like Jonathan Pollard to the wolves. Israel's raison d'etre is to protect Jews not just Israelis. Its a moral principle. See:

Just One Great Expectation

In other words, if Israel will not stand up for Jews in distress, its not going to be able to hold onto Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem for very long. According to Feiglin, Israel's failure to do so is at the root of the quarter century of crisis the Jewish State has endured. The following words from Feiglin explain it a lot better than I can:

Our rejection of Jonathan Pollard is intentional. If we really wanted him back, he would have been here long ago. Israel's rejection of Pollard means that we have lost our national solidarity. That solidarity - the brotherhood that testifies to our shared Jewish destiny - is our secret weapon. Without it, we are lost.

Its time to bring our brother Jonathan home to his people.


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