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Monday, October 12, 2009

Mitchell leaves empty-handed again

The United States' special Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, returned home on Sunday night, presumably to report to Secretary of State Clinton as the United States committed to do after the tripartite meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Obama and Abu Mazen on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly two weeks ago. Mitchell's press conference with 'Palestinian' bottle washer negotiator Saeb Erekat in Ramallah on Friday night gave as clear an indication as any just how far apart the sides are:
At a press conference in Ramallah with PA negotiator Saeb Erekat on Friday night, Mitchell said, "We do not underestimate the difficulties for us or for the parties, but we all have obligations to do everything we can to help achieve the goal of comprehensive peace that will be good for the Palestinians, good for the Israelis, good for all the people in this region.

"We discussed our common vision of a viable and independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are deeply committed to that," he said.

Erekat, in an indication that the Palestinians have not dropped their demand for a total settlement freeze before restarting direct negotiations, said that if Israel "wanted to resume the peace talks, it should first express clear commitment to implementing the road map plan, which includes stopping settlement, and be committed to the two-sate solution."

Netanyahu has made clear that although he would agree to a temporary moratorium on new housing starts in the settlements, he would not freeze construction of some 2,500 units currently being built, or another 500 that were approved last month. He also has made clear that he would not stop construction for public buildings such as schools, synagogues and health clinics. Moreover, Netanyahu has said he would not agree to any settlement freeze in Jerusalem.

Mitchell, expected to leave the region on Sunday after his meeting with the prime minister, said the sides had been invited back to Washington to continue the talks, with Erekat telling reporters this would likely take place within two weeks.
Jennifer Rubin comments:
At some point, the gap between the president’s rhetoric and the reality in the region will become too glaring to ignore. Eventually the absence of progress, even by Foggy Bottom standards, becomes a reminder of the impotence of the president. Why invest so much energy and rhetorical effort for so little result? It is not clear that trying really, really hard gets Obama anywhere. It simply highlights that he lacks the means to implement his utopian vision.

No matter how badly Obama distorts history, and no matter how much daylight he puts between the U.S. and Israel, there isn’t any evidence that his persona really matters. The “Cairo Effect” is a bust. It seems there are facts, ignored by Obama, that trump the speeches and posturing. Hamas has dug in, the “reasonable” Palestinian Authority isn’t so reasonable and lacks “Authority,” and there is no fundamental commitment to recognize the Jewish state and end terrorism.
But where will Obama find his foreign policy success? Not here, that's for sure.


At 3:28 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

One wonders why Obama keeps at it in the absence of any real achievement. If I was him, I'd look for far easier pickings than an elusive Middle East peace agreement.


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