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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Obama's bumbling his chance for peace

Tuesday's JPost editorial explains why President Obama's obsession with a 'settlement freeze' is going to kill support from people who otherwise support the 'peace process,' while providing no gain on the Arab side.
Barack Obama might want to reflect on how his push for a freeze is being seen among mainstream Israelis - those who want a peace deal. They wonder why there is no withering campaign to pressure Abbas into insisting that a Fatah-Hamas unity government explicitly accept the Quartet's principles. Or why ranking administration officials aren't demanding that Abbas explain why he rejected Ehud Olmert's unprecedented offer amounting to the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank. They are left uneasy by the administration's parsimonious reaction to Netanyahu's seminal Bar-Ilan speech on a two-state solution.

How can Netanyahu garner more domestic support to move vigorously against illegal outposts when Obama is essentially saying that in his eyes, Ma'aleh Adumim is an illegal outpost. It's hard to see.

Netanyahu articulated the consensus position of the Israeli body politic: "Palestine" must be demilitarized so that we don't wake up to find Iranian Revolutionary Guards overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport; that the Palestinian refugee issue must be addressed within the boundaries of Palestine; that, by extension, in a region which includes two dozen Muslim states, the Palestinians need to give up the "right of return" and accept Israel as the Jewish state. And that Israel cannot agree to pull back to the hard-to-defend 1949 Armistice Lines.

Settlement issues are complicated and the government's policy often seems incoherent at best. For instance, it is retroactively legalizing 60 apartments built without approval just outside Talmon. It is also belatedly building 50 new homes in Adam to accommodate the residents of unauthorized Migron, which it wants to dismantle. In the ideal world, Netanyahu's office should be breaking news of construction over the Green Line, and explaining it in the context of previous understandings with the US.

Would a temporary settlement freeze bring us any closer to peace? More likely, it would encourage the Palestinians to dig in their heels. Why not hold out for a permanent freeze? Or one that applied to metropolitan Jerusalem?

David Ignatius of The Washington Post recently quoted a senior Arab diplomat as telling him that a settlement freeze won't cut it. What the Arabs demand is an imposed solution. This is basically what Obama has also been hearing from some in the ostensibly pro-Israel community in Washington, led by J Street.
Read the whole thing.


At 4:01 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Arabs have demanded an imposed solution for decades - whereby the US forces Israel back to the 1949 armistice lines minus east Jerusalem without their having to recognize or make peace with Israel. With a friendly pro-Arab American President in power, the Arabs finally think their goal is within sight - and that America will be able to deliver Israel for them without their having to do anything to reconcile with the Jewish State. In that context, the current settlement contretemps is just a sideshow.

Israel has no reason to believe any agreement to a settlement freeze demanded by the US will not lead to further American pressure to meet the entire range of Arab demands, which in essence, would entail its own disappearance. There is no way - Israel could or should - ever agree to a solution being imposed on it against its will.

What could go wrong indeed

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Hutzpan said...

How can Netanyahu garner more domestic support...

Obaministration doesn't care. The goal for now is to topple Netanyahu's government, so does he get domestioc support or not - is irrelevant.


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