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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Obama's elephant in the room

Politico reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama are near an 'agreement' that would allow Netanyahu to become an historical figure freeze 'settlement construction' in Judea and Samaria.
Officials on both sides familiar with the talks said that the American and Israeli sides appear close to compromise on two crucial issues: The U.S. may agree to let Israel complete the construction of buildings that are already under way in the disputed territories; and Israel — which has refused to include disputed Jerusalem neighborhoods in the settlement talks — appears willing to forswear evictions and demolitions in the Palestinian parts of Jerusalem.

“The Israelis have asked for us to let them finish existing construction,” said the U.S. official. “We’ve made clear that we need some commitments on evictions and demolitions in Jerusalem.”

One outstanding issue, another person familiar with the talks said: What happens if talks fail. Israel would like a formal acknowledgement that it can resume building if, after six or nine months, talks have fallen apart. The U.S. side says it won’t offer formal sanction to settlements that it has always opposed.
Of course, all this will do is get 'negotiations' started (if the 'Palestinians' play along, which is far from certain); it won't mean a deal on any substantive issues.

Rick Richman expresses the fear of many Israelis and their supporters: That whatever concessions Netanyahu makes now will become permanent. Richman suggests that the Israelis should seek explicit commitments from Obama:
Perhaps Israel will want, before it makes any new concessions, to seek a minimal commitment from Obama as well: to abide as president by what he promised as a presidential candidate. In his AIPAC address last year, Obama asked that he be permitted to be clear:
Any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state with secure, recognized, defensible borders.
Since those are minimum conditions for Israel in any negotiations, Israel may want a written assurance that Obama will not treat the commitment as a merely unenforceable oral understanding, nor as simply a letter from some other president—but as Obama’s own.
Obama is highly unlikely to make a commitment like that. You see, the elephant in the room with Obama's 'negotiations' is that any agreement that gives Israel "secure, recognized, defensible borders" will not fulfill Obama's commitment to a 'sovereign, contiguous Palestinian state.' Obama is going to have to renege on one of those commitments.

Which one do you think it will be?


At 9:55 PM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

"The U.S. may agree to let Israel..."

That sentences can be constructed in this way is an embarrassment to the entire nation of Yisrael.

At 11:31 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Let me get this straight: Netanyahu wants to reward Obama for breaking prior commitments made to Israel by previous US administrations.

How in the world does that benefit Israel? Not unless one is prepared to spin a surrender as a victory.



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