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Monday, September 21, 2009

Speaking of that 'summit'

At the Weekly Standard, Michael Goldfarb nails the Obama administration's 'accomplishment' in holding a 'summit' on Tuesday.

Obama could have put the same meeting together six months ago -- without squandering his credibility with the Israeli public -- if he'd simply called for unconditional talks between the two sides. Obama has not set preconditions for talks with any of the rogue states he is now courting, but for Israel, there was a demand that all settlement construction cease, indefinitely, before the peace process could move forward. The Palestinians adopted this as their own precondition for talks, further complicating matters (in fairness, as Hillary Clinton concedes in her interview with the Washington Post, her public call for a freeze may have unintentionally locked the administration into a policy to which it was not fully committed).

In the event, construction will continue on some 2,500 units and Netanyahu has authorized new construction on some 450 units. The Israelis have dismissed outright demands for a freeze in East Jerusalem and are negotiating the terms of a temporary freeze in the West Bank on the condition that any freeze come with a written guarantee from the Obama administration that if peace talks break down, the freeze will come to an end.

Obama has managed to get the two parties to the table to talk about having talks. Good for him, but this is a far less impressive achievement than the Annapolis conference, which was widely mocked on the left as an unserious attempt at peace and indicative of Bush's lack of engagement with the issue. At this pace, Obama may need a third term just to get this process back to where Bill Clinton had it in 1993.

By the way, contrary to that excerpt, Hillary didn't exactly take one on the chin for the Obumbler.
QUESTION: One specific example I was thinking of, early on in the Administration you publicly called for a full settlement freeze, no natural growth, full stop on that. And some of your predecessors might have said that privately but not put it out there in a public domain. And Senator Mitchell has been going back and forth negotiating this, and it looks like whatever he comes back with is not going to be actually to the standard that you originally set publicly. So does that -- I mean, and so for instance, diplomats would say, oh, I don't want to set an expectation that we can't meet.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but the President said exactly what I said too on settlements.

QUESTION: Right. But I think he -- didn't he say it privately and then you let it out publicly?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, it was kind of a --

QUESTION: And then he said it later publicly.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It was a one-two, yes. But --

QUESTION: Maybe it was planned.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But it was presidential policy --


SECRETARY CLINTON: -- we were going to state that view, and we did so. But maybe because we both had been in politics, we know very well that that's when the negotiation starts. And I'm very -- I am very much of the mind that others have said this, it was in the Roadmap. I mean, others have said the same thing. But I'm not -- I wasn't sure whether either the American public or the Israeli public knew that we were restating what we believed was in the best interests of Israel as well as what the United States position was.

And so it's been against the backdrop of that very strong statement that we've been moving. Now, we aren't ready to announce where we're ending up, but I will predict to you that we will end up in a place that no Israeli government has ever gone before. And I think that is to the credit of the Israeli Government, which wants to get back to negotiations that can lead to a two-state security with the security of Israel guaranteed and with the Palestinians having the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves.
It sounds to me like that was Obama's position and she went public with it but it certainly doesn't sound like he disapproved of her going public.


At 11:25 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obumbler six months go put himself out ahead on a limb with a public demand upon Israel that led the Palestinians to adopt it too and which had no chance of being taken seriously by Israel. Had the President and the Secretary Of State simply called for the parties to resume talks and let them work out their differences neither side would be forced to stake out positions that had a negative effect on getting negotiations restarted. But that's not what he did - he tried to please the Palestinians at Israel's expense and ended up getting the worst of all worlds.

Obumbler's diplomacy hasn't been all that spectacularly successful.

What could go wrong indeed


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