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Monday, October 26, 2009

Bibi's surprise

Prime Minister Netanyahu will be visiting Washington November 8 - 10 for the United Jewish Federation's General Assembly. The Obama administration is squirming. It seems that Netanyahu didn't bother to tell the President he was coming. Now, the administration has to decide whether to invite Netanyahu to visit the White House (Hat Tip: Theodore's World).
An American source told Ynet Sunday that news of the visit had been received with reserved astonishment.

The Obama administration has not yet responded to questions of whether a meeting with Netanyahu was forthcoming due to their surprise over the unscheduled visit. On the other hand, failure to invite Netanyahu to the White House may be perceived as a diplomatic crisis.

Sources in Jerusalem say Netanyahu did indeed decide to attend the GA without first consulting President Barack Obama, but that since the latter would also be present at the event the two may meet in any case.

The sources say a summit between the two leaders would be superfluous at this point in the peace process, and for this reason an official meeting has not been scheduled.
It's definitely fair to say that a meeting about the 'peace process' would be superfluous at this point.

Here's Barry Rubin in Monday's JPost.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is not going to back down on his demand. He is more afraid of his own colleagues, Hamas's baiting him as a "moderate" (a compliment perhaps from the West but a deadly insult in Palestinian politics) and his own people than of Obama. Indeed, nobody is afraid of Obama, which is one of the main problems with his foreign policy.

Disdaining the use of threats, leverage and pressure, the Obama administration is not likely to push the PA very hard on this and even if it did, Abbas would stand firm. Having extolled the Palestinians as peace-loving martyrs, courting Arab and Muslim opinion, treasuring popularity, the administration won't get tough. No amount of funding or other goodies is going to move the PA or Abbas either. For Abbas, it is something like the classical choice which can be paraphrased as: Your money or your life?

So there is, and will be, a deadlock, month after month into 2010. Is there some clever way out? I don't see one and I bet the administration doesn't either.

Abbas also has what for him is an attractive alternative: strike a militant pose, blame America, seek rapprochement with Hamas. In addition, what both the US and Europe fail to see is that the Palestinians don't need or want rapid progress on negotiations or even a state except on what would be completely their own terms. They can also afford the luxury of believing - and this is what Western policy has taught them - that Europe and America need them more than they need the West. Moreover they believe, and again this is what they have been shown, that intransigence on their part actually brings more criticism on Israel. If you believe, rightly or wrongly, that the world is about to condemn Israel as a pariah, war criminal state why make compromises with it?

This is the corner into which the Obama administration has painted itself.
And all because they started out of the box making demands on Israel. Anyone think they'll learn a lesson from this?


At 8:40 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Pursuing the "peace process" in the post-Goldstone Era isn't a high priority for Israel. No one in Jerusalem is wasting much time on some thing that is not going to get real results. Netanyahu understands that. The question is whether Obama does.


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