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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mighty Barack has struck out

Leo Rennert reminds us of another lesson that Palileaks has taught us: Just how badly Barack Obama struck out.
With the Palestinians being that flexible and pragmatic about Jerusalem, the question arises why, given this progress on the private negotiating track, Obama would, in his first try at Mideast diplomacy, put all his chips on pressuring Israel to institute as the first order of business a permanent building freeze in these same Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Since the Palestinians already signaled that they would agree to leave them under Israeli control in a permanent peace agreement, why would a President of the United States insist on demanding concessions from Israel on an issue that the Palestinians already had written off as not a big priority and, in fact, completely unnecessary in their pursuit of Palestinians statehood?

Since Israel would retain these neighborhoods anyway, what was the great urgency under Obama to put them front and center on the U.S. agenda?

As it turned out, Abbas -- while already having written off these neighborhoods in his private negotiations with Israel -- felt naturally compelled to be at least as tough on Israel as Obama and publicly seconded the U.S. demand for a total freeze of Jewish neighborhoods in Eastern Jerusalem.

The result was an embarrassment for both the U.S. and Abbas as a result of an ill-advised, quixotic initiative by Obama the first time out of the Mideast diplomatic box. By raising the temperature over Jewish areas of East Jerusalem, Obama set off a chain reaction of totally unnecessary tensions with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who stood firm and insisted that Jewish neighborhoods in Israel's capital were not going to be on the negotiating table -- especially since these were the same neighborhoods Abbas already had abjured in private.

It took many months to repair a totally unnecessary rift between Washington and Jerusalem. In his first time at bat in the big Mideast diplomatic league, Obama struck out spectacularly -- as Al-Jazeera's trove of leaked documents makes amply clear.
I happen to believe that Rennert is right and that the 'Palestinians' did concede all (or nearly all) the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. In fact, that was reported long before the Palileaks documents came out. But if that's the case, why are the government and the City of Jerusalem still afraid (even this week!) to approve building projects that are across the armistice line?


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At 8:32 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Why is Israel afraid indeed? Its not like approving new construction in Har Homa would change the status quo!

What could go wrong?


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