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Friday, January 22, 2010

Obama's flying pigs moment?

In an interview published on Thursday, President Obumbler admitted to Time Magazine's Joe Klein that his administration was overconfident about being able to bring peace between Israelis and 'Palestinians.'
The other area which I think is worth noting is that the Middle East peace process has not moved forward. And I think it's fair to say that for all our efforts at early engagement, it is not where I want it to be.

Why is that? My sense of it is that [U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George] Mitchell spent a number of months negotiating a settlement deal and saw some progress from the Israelis and kind of got blinded by that, because he didn't see that it wasn't sufficient progress for the Palestinians.

I'll be honest with you. A) This is just really hard. Even for a guy like George Mitchell, who helped bring about the peace in Northern Ireland. This is as intractable a problem as you get. B) Both sides — the Israelis and the Palestinians — have found that the political environment, the nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies, were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation. And I think that we overestimated our ability to persuade them to do so when their politics ran contrary to that. From [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas' perspective, he's got Hamas looking over his shoulder and, I think, an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process.

And on the Israeli front — although the Israelis, I think, after a lot of time showed a willingness to make some modifications in their policies, they still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures. And so what we're going to have to do — I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn't produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted, and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high. Moving forward, though, we are going to continue to work with both parties to recognize what I think is ultimately their deep-seated interest in a two-state solution in which Israel is secure and the Palestinians have sovereignty and can start focusing on developing their economy and improving the lives of their children and grandchildren.
Well, no kidding. JPost's Herb Keinon notes:
While the Prime Minister's Office had no official response to the president's remarks, Channel 2 quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official as saying that Israel had warned the Americans that their Middle East strategy would not bear fruit.

Another senior official tried to lower any expectations that Mitchell's current regional trip - the US envoy arrived in Israel Wednesday night from Lebanon and Syria - would lead to any dramatic progress, saying that it was not clear whether the Palestinian Authority had made the strategic decision to re-enter the talks.

The official said Netanyahu had no intention of giving Mitchell any more gestures to take to the Palestinians, saying that the Palestinians have climbed up a "eucalyptus tree," and every time a gesture is given as a ladder, they climb even higher.
Let's hope Netanyahu sticks to that intention. We've given more than enough 'gestures' to the 'Palestinians.'

But let's go back to that interview. First, note that Obama still apparently doesn't qualify Netanyahu's 'settlement freeze' as a 'bold gesture.' That shows how little Obama understands both of this region and of the coalition on which Netanyahu depends. What Netanyahu did was so bold as to be foolhardy both in terms of it being a far greater 'concession' than the 'Palestinians' deserve and in terms of endangering his coalition.

Second, Israel only has a 'deep-seated interest' in a 'two-state solution' if it will be allowed to live in genuine peace and security (and maybe not even then). Thus far, there has been no indication that will ever happen. The 'Palestinians' only have a 'deep-seated interest' in a 'two-state solution' if they have genuinely given up on their desire to destroy the Jewish state. So far, there is no indication that has happened or that it ever will.

Obama needs to do more than slow down. He needs to rethink his most basic assumptions, unles what he really wants is to replace Israel with a 'Palestinian state.' Don't hold your breath waiting for Obama to do any rethinking.

The only reason the pigs flew yesterday was the sudden flash of modesty. There still has been no change in the basic policy. Nor do I expect one.


At 8:34 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama is not going to admit his ideology is wrong. The best that can be expected in the Middle East is he'll go through the motions. But nothing will change there.


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