This is still reportedly in the works, but the outline of Obama's brand spankin' new Middle East Peace Plan is apparently being worked on as I write this, and one of my notorious Little Birdies has given me a few details to work with.
Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were humiliated by the Arab's absolute refusal to toss any reciprocal concessions Israel's way in exchange for concessions by Israel. So naturally, the Obama Administration decided to concentrate on wringing more concessions out of Israel in the hopes of persuading the Saudis and the Arab League to give a little, because this time, hey, maybe it might work!
In fact, it won't, as the Arabs have made abundantly clear, most recently at the Fatah conference. But given the hostility towards Israel by Obama, that's the track that's being pursued.
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Obama's US Middle East envoy George Mitchell dickered back and forth at a meeting they had in London and reportedly came up with a deal on Israel's building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria(AKA the West Bank). The Israelis are reportedly offering a temporary 9 month freeze in these areas, although a number of already started projects will be completed. They're also committing not to build any new Jewish communities in these areas.
On Jerusalem Netanyahu and Mitchell have agreed to disagree, with Netanyahu stating that Israel will continue to build in its capitol and Mitchell saying that the US will continue to oppose construction in East Jerusalem. But the basic idea is that Netanyahu will limit construction in East Jerusalem and the US will limit its opposition to rhetoric.
What Israel is supposedly going to get in return is a harder US line on Iran. I've seen speculation on this several places. The US, along with Britain and France, is supposedly going to try to get the United Nations security council to expand sanctions to include Iran's oil and gas industry.
I personally doubt this scenario, because I'm sure Netanyahu is smart enough to realize that Obama isn't going to be able to stop China or Russia from vetoing any meaningful sanctions. Not to mention the fact that EU countries like Germany who have a healthy trade with Iran aren't about to abide by any sanctions that do get through. The UN's Oil For Food scandal is a pretty good indication on how well that works. Nor is Obama going to let America's military do anything personally to stop Iran's nukes, that's for damned sure. And I certainly don't see Israel trusting France or Britain ( Britain??? Guffaw!) to do anything meaningful either.
I think a more likely scenario is something like this: in exchange for a temporary building freeze, Obama has promised to try to try and get some kind of symbolic concession out of the Arabs and to come up with whatever watered down sanctions the he can get through the UN, and if that doesn't work out by say, year end, he'll wink at the IDF taking out the Iranian nuke sites.
There are a number of things wrong with this scenario, from Israel's point of view and from America's.
First, Obama's new revelation on Iran (if in fact it even exists) is a day late and a dollar short. The mullahs are at most six months to a year from developing nuclear weapons, and their missile technology has progressed to solid fuel, putting all of Europe in range. The day is long past when sanctions can be expected to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This has implications for America as well, in that it will give Iran the power to shut off oil from the Persian Gulf any time it chooses and black mail Europe. It will also turn Iraq and Lebanon into Iranian colonies.
Second, Israel already had a formal agreement with the US on Judea and Samaria, one made between President George Bush and Israeli PM Ariel Sharon. That agreement was that existing Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria would be part of Israel in any final settlement and that normal building would be allowed. And the Obama administration, aided and abetted by ex-President Bush's cowardice in keeping his mouth shut has simply pretended it doesn't exist.
If the Israelis go along with a freeze, they're essentially agreeing to waive the agreement they made with Bush, the entire basis by which Israel signed on to the Roadmap in the first place. Not only that, but they'd be making a new deal with an American administration that has already shown its hostility to Israel and its willingness to renege on any agreements it makes.
When it comes to Israel, Obama simply isn't part of their fan club. Just like his closest friends, advisers and associates. And don't be fooled by the Jews in his administration like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. They're simply ruthless and ambitious hard Left careerists who are primarily interested in their own power and aggrandizement. They've latched onto Obama and could care less about any 'anti- Zionist' policies the boss man comes out with as long as they maintain that connection.
Obama wants to appease the Muslim world and sees Israel as an obstruction to that goal , and certainly not a US ally to be cultivated. As Victor Davis Hanson astutely pointed out, "to Obama, Israel is the exploiting Jewish landlord,the Palestinians are the oppressed tenant and Obama is the superior, all-knowing organizer-mediator who will give pep talks to the Palestinians on "responsibility" and "self-help" while drawing material concessions from the too wealthy Israeli building owner."
Obama will take whatever the Israelis give him and then simply ask for more without any reciprocation from the Arabs whatsoever. And there's no agreement Netanyahu could make with him that would be worth anything.
Imagine this scenario: Obama addresses the UN General Assembly in September, as he's scheduled to do. He has an informal agreement with Netanyahu along the lines mentioned above. But then, surrounded by the Arab nations in the anti-Israel UN, Obama unilaterally expands on that agreement, announcing a new plan that would substantially follow the Saudi peace ultimatum, which he's already endorsed.In exchange for an ill-defined 'comprehensive peace' with the Arabs, Obama calls for the Israelis to redivide Jerusalem and cede the Golan and the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria ( AKA the West Bank)to the Arabs, effectively making them judenrein and pushing Israel back to the pre-1967 borders Abba Eban aptly called 'the Auschwitz lines'. he calls for Israel to unconditionally recognize a Palestinian state.
He doesn't address the other two parts of the Arab demands,releasing convicted murderers from Israeli prisons and swamping what's left of Israel with genocidal 'refugees'- for the present.
Instead he introduces a couple of new angles. He calls for his anti-Israel adviserSusan Powers' solution, imposing this new settlement and enforcing it with a UN peacekeeping force to establish 'security' along the new borders, which would work about as well as UNFIL has enforcing UN resolutions against Hezbollah in Lebanon. And as a 'confidence building measure' to facilitate negotiations with Iran, he demands that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear site to
All this could explain why, after extensive visits by Obama administration special envoys to Damascus, Hamas suddenly made a major change and announced it was now open to Obama's plan for a two state solution.
Can you imagine the UN not jumping at the chance to vote for this as a binding resolution,particularly with American support? Would anyone listen to the Israelis protesting this rape of their country?
If Israel accepts anything like this, it will be national suicide. If they don't, they will be seriously isolated as a pariah nation and likely subject to massive sanctions for disobeying the UN diktat....which is probably what Obama intends.
Middle East peace for the Arabs has never been about 'settlements', 'occupation' or 'refugees'. It's always been about destroying Israel and the Jews. The ludicrous thing, the cosmic bad joke about the whole affair is that by helping destroy Israel, America and the EU are not buying themselves peace but paving the way for their own destruction. As the Iranians and others are fond of chanting, first the Little Satan, then the Big Satan.
Since Obama is likely to do this no matter what the Israelis agree to, they'd be far better off not bothering with making deals with him. Far better for them to simply hunker down and wait things out, concentrate on their own priorities and perhaps look for some new best friends. Israeli high tech an know how is a highly desired commodity on the world market. And India and China look increasingly promising as consumers.