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Monday, October 04, 2010

Obama to pay a hefty price for over-hyping

I've been in a course recently where we talk a lot about enthusiasm, and how being enthusiastic can get others to listen to you where they might otherwise ignore you.

The Obama administration came out of the Washington talks with Israel and the 'Palestinians' all enthusiastic about the prospects of reaching a 'peace agreement' between Israel and the 'Palestinians' within a year. Unfortunately, it seems that in diplomacy, you at least have to have a basis for enthusiasm. In this case, there is none. The Obama administration's promotion of the 'direct talks' turned out to be a lot of empty hype. And now, there may be a price to be paid for that hype.
[Aaron David] Miller, who was involved with the Oslo talks and is an old hand at Middle East negotiations, is doubtful. He told the French news agency AFP, "They [the Obama administration] now need to pay or are considering paying both parties for simply sitting down at the table.

"If the price is this steep this early on, you can only imagine what will be required when they truly run into an impasse on the substance," said Miller, now an analyst with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

He explained that U.S. President Barack Obama created his own dilemma by over-hyping the carefully choreographed talks between Abbas and Netanyahu in Washington last month.

Despite State Department claims that the two leaders spoke about core issues, PA officials have said the entire session was devoted to procedural issues—primarily the building freeze on new Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria and which Abbas has insisted be extended.

The “momentum” that was the basis of Mitchell’s strategy died the second the two and a half hour session ended.

"They took on this project in August in order to pre-empt the crisis they now find themselves in," according to Miller. “They hyped, I think, probably unnecessarily, the re-launch of the negotiations in Washington."

The Obama administration reportedly has promised Abbas that Israel’s building in Judea and Samaria will be on a limited basis. Abbas rejected the price.

On the other side, Israel reportedly was offered a guarantee that the extension of the freeze would be for only 60 days. David Makovsky, a widely respected analyst with close ties to Dennis Ross, one of the Oslo negotiators and who now works with President Obama, posted online a list of other guarantees:


Like Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu also said “no," reflecting a growing distrust of Washington both by Israel as well as the Arab world.

If Mitchell succeeds in bringing Abbas back to the table, the Obama administration eventually will face a likely worse dilemma—failure to achieve an agreement on security for Israel and borders for the proposed PA state.

Virtually all State Department reporters are extremely skeptical of an accord in one year, if at all.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who apparently fears being blamed for dampening the enthusiasm, continues to repeat the one-year mantra as well.

What could go wrong?


At 2:30 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Netanyahu in private I suspect, really agrees with his Foreign Minister but has to keep going for the sake of appearances.

No one really expects a deal to happen with the Palestinians - not next year, not in this decade, or in our lifetime.

There are just too many elephants in the room to overcome for that to happen.


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