Sunday, April 19, 2009

Israel And The Obama Administration Far Apart On Mid East Peace

The US Special envoy to the Middle East, Arab-American ex-Senator George Mitchell made a trip to Israel and the Palestinian occupied areas of Judea and Samaria to get a feel for how far he could push the new Israeli government and ended up in the middle of what could tactfully be called a 'divergence' of Israeli and American views on the Palestinians and Iran.

In fairness, Mitchell's task was made much more difficult by the Obama Administration, which sent several provocative signals to Israel that the US is preparing to appease Iran at Israel's expense before Mitchell even arrived to talk to them.

President Obama has made it clear many times that he favors a second Arab Palestinian state on the old pre-1967 borders established as quickly as possible and that he backs the Saudi peace ultimatum. Mitchell's job was to pressure the new Netanyahu government to commit to the Saudi plan and the idea of establishing a Palestinian state on Israel's territory, regardless of the problem of Hamas, the prior Roadmap agreements the Palestinians have still not implemented or Israel's very real security considerations.

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman quickly let Mitchell and the Obama Administration know that things have changed and they weren't dealing with the likes of Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert any more. he stated emphatically that the Israelis were more than happy to fulfill the actual commitments they made as part of the Roadmap, including the additional provisions spelled out by Ariel Sharon and accepted by then President Bush - as soon as the Palestinians began fulfilling their obligations under the same agreement.He also said that while Israel was committed to the Road Map, it was not committed to the results of the gang rape that occurred courtesy of Condi Rice at Annapolis...where nothing was signed anyway.

Needless to say, the Palestinians were not exactly pleased at being reminded that they actually had to do something to get anything. As a matter of fact, their reaction can best be described as a heel kicking, screaming tantrum.

When Mitchell met with Bibi Netanyahu, Israel's new Prime Minister essentially turned things on their ear by telling Mitchell that he would be happy to resume negotiations on the new Palestinian state President Obama wants and commit to the idea of a two state solution - as soon as the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State.

Since neither Hamas or Fatah have recognized Israel's right to exist,( although the Palestinian Authority did at Oslo, in order to get the aid money flowing)this presented a problem to President Obama's grand designs.

The Palestinians stated emphatically that they had no intention of recognizing Israel.

"This is an obstacle on the path to peace and the creation of two states," Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman said.

There's more to this than meets the eye. Aside from pushing Israel back to what ex-Israel UN Ambassador Abba Eban aptly called the 'Auschwitz lines' the Palestinians insist on the right to swamp what's left of Israel with thousands of genocidal 'refugees' in a so-called right of return, something that has never even been considered for the almost one million Jewish refugees on the 1948 conflict from all over the Arab world. Recognizing Israel would involve the Palestinians making a realistic concession on this point. And realistic concessions are not what Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah or the rival Green Hat Gang in Gaza are about. It's all or nothing and it always has been, which makes the whole idea of 'negotiations' farcical.

Netanyahu and Lieberman pointed that out to Mitchell, with Lieberman explicitly saying that new approaches are needed, because the old approach of israel making concessions and giving up land has been a failure. Netanyahu reportedly told Mitchell that the Israelis were not going to accede to a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria (AKA the West Bank) merely to have it become another part of Hamastan, something that would happen in a heartbeat if the IDF pulled out and left Abbas and Fatah to their own devices.

The US response to this was fairly negative. A planned meeting with Obama and Netanyahu at the White House for May to coincide with Netanyahu's appearance at the AIPAC convention was cancelled, and while both sides made polite noises to indicate that it was a mere scheduling problem, no alternative date was set, and the White House appears as anxious to speak with Netanyahu as they were with Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazy last month.Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to be hosted by the White House next month, but there's no indication Netanyahu will be there any time soon.

Mitchell made it clear that the US considers the establishment of a Palestinian state a priority:

"This conflict has gone on for far too long, and the people of this region should no longer have to wait for the just peace that guarantees security for all," Mitchell said.

"The US is committed to the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, where the aspirations of the Palestinian people to control their own destiny are realized," he said.

"We want the Arab peace initiative to be a part of the effort to reach this goal. A comprehensive peace in this region is in the national interest of the United States. It is in the interest of the Palestinian people, it is in the interest of the people of Israel and of the entire region. A two-state solution is the only solution," he said.

There is, of course, no mention from Mitchell of Arab violence and rejectionism as a reason why peace in this conflict has been so elusive.

Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the exchange between Israel and the US was a letter sent by National Union chairman and MK Ya'acov "Ketzele" Katz to White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel last week, after Emanuel was quoted as telling an American Jewish leader that the White House was going to ram a Palestinian state through no matter who was prime minister of Israel.

In the letter, Katz, who is not part of the Netanyahu government, reminded Emanuel of his Israeli background and of the biblical Queen Esther, who ended up at using her influence with Persian King Ahashverosh to intervene on behalf of the Jews of the Persian Empire against Haman.

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" Katz wrote, quoting from the Book of Esther (4:14).

I have no information on how the letter was received in the White House.


Christian Atheist said...

A planned meeting with Obama and Netanyahu at the White House for May to coincide with Netanyahu's appearance at the AIPAC convention was cancelled,FF,
To me the above is the most chilling part of this article.It's one thing to hear rhetoric but this looks like an actual toss under the bus.Although your track record leaves me little reason to hope, I fervently pray that you are either incorrect or mistaken in this particular. As the boy at the ballgame said "Say it ain't so.." Not that I think there's much chance of that!Unbelievable.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi CA,
That little factoid was reported in both the Jerusalem Post and YNET,
Yediot's English site.

Traditionally, Israeli PM's have always been hosted by the White House when they come to America. Not this time.

Both the White House and Jerusalem made polite noises about scheduling conflicts, but it is what it is.

Netanyahu wants to talk about Iran, and the Obama Administration doesn't. And the Obama Administration wants to pressure Israel on the Palestinians, and Netanyahu has already said what he had to say about it.

Christian Atheist said...

To quote myself(vain I know, but that's how I roll)"not that I think there's much chance of that" I didn't and don't. (Sigh)I'm at the point where I simultaneously can't believe the things this guy(zero, that is) does and yet have no trouble believing any of it.
What's Monkey's take currently? Not that I don't have full faith in you, mind,it's just that I would appreciate some authoritative prognostication!

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello CA,
Weekend Monkey normally deals with domestic politics, celeb interviews and cultural issues, not foreign policy..after all, he was a Democrat candidate for President in '08, with real experience in the political jungle.

His Real Banana column usually posts Tuesdays..but you can e-mail him at anytime or just leave a comment for him with any questions.